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“Raiders Off Season; Derek Carr & Kahlil Mack Contracts; Salary Cap; Who Stays, Who Goes”

NFL: Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders

It was a fun season for Oakland Raider fans but now the off season lull begins. I am extremely optimistic about the Raiders next season but there is work to do.  Let’s see if we can’t fill that void with early off season talk.

Salary Cap:

First off, if you are new to my writing my regulars would tell you I only write one way; honestly.  I’m not a homer and I don’t say what people want to hear.  I’m also not a hater.  I have the following I do because I respect the game and the readers.  I want to inform readers of all levels; whether you are new to the game and the Raiders or whether you know about schemes and techniques.  This is supposed to be fun and informative.

The salary cap was created by the NFL to create parity. The NFL felt that if they leveled the playing field and prevented dynasty’s, there would be more fan interest because different teams would be in the playoffs. Both Super Bowl teams from last year didn’t even make the playoffs this year.

Remember when Seattle won the Super Bowl? QB Russell Wilson was making under 1 million. His average annual salary is now 21.9 million. With that salary cap hit, they are struggling with their OL & depth at many positions. Well the Raiders are now in that same boat.

Last month the Raiders and Derek Carr both said that they wanted to finalize a deal in the off season. Carr is set to make 1.7 million in 2017. They were looking at a 4-5 year deal for 20 million a year. If the Raiders wait another year, they may get into a bidding war with teams and most feel the price would go up to 23-25 million per year.  Resigning players in their contract year is the smart thing to do.

In 2018 they now have to resign Kahlil Mack. He also is going to get a huge raise from his 4.6 million dollar average. The good thing is they can franchise him so they won’t lose him. Those are huge chunks taken out of the salary cap. Most that are looking ahead also think it’s near impossible for the Raiders to keep OL Gabe Jackson when his contract is up. He’s going to get a big raise from his 4 year average salary of 770k. Some think he’ll get around 7-8 million/year.

Derek Carr’s contract will dictate what the Raiders do in the off season.   The days of having a ton of money under the salary cap are gone. Seattle has done it right by emphasizing good drafts and player development through good coaching.  Raiders need to do the same.

The Reality:

The Raiders have to limit their busts. The Nate Allen’s and Sean Smith’s of the world can’t happen anymore.   The Jihad Ward and DJ Hayden draft picks can’t happen anymore (both picks that I took heat for from fans for hating them). If your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round draft choices aren’t starting within 2 years and at least playing fairly well, then they were not good picks.   Before the salary cap you could bench picks and let them learn over time. Those days are gone. The standards need to be high if you want to keep winning.  Let’s now look at each position.

Quarterbacks:

Derek Carr will be back and healthy after healing up from his injury. Matt McGloin’s meltdown in Denver pretty much sealed his fate.   He’s an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and he said he’d like a chance to start somewhere. Look for McGloin to sign elsewhere and Cook to be the backup.   I said it at the draft last year, I think Cook is a back up at best in the NFL and I’m not a huge fan of his but he’s ok.

Running Backs:

DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard at times really stole the show.   Both are explosive and can catch the ball. I don’t think either is a franchise back but they are very valuable in a RB by committee way which has been the trend in the NFL.

Latavius Murray is a nice back but he doesn’t thrill me at all. Some have said he’ll ask for 6-7 million a year.   If he wants a lot of money I let him go and pick up a free agent or a later round rookie power back. There are some steals that can be had in later rounds. I still like Jamize Olawale and I wish he’d get more carries. The Stanford RB “Christian McCaffrey to Oakland” in the second round rumors have already begun.

Wide Receivers:

The Raiders are set with Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. They both dropped a lot of balls this season though, including one each in the playoff game so hopefully that improves. I said it last year; Seth Roberts is not a good #3 and he also had the dropsies. The Raiders have the rights to Roberts but you wonder if they move on. Lower down the Raider needs list, adding a good #3 WR would be a plus. Andre Holmes has his moments and is solid at #4, but where he shines is special teams where he has become a big contributor. He’s an UFA but I think he’ll come back.

Offensive Line:

The engine of the Raiders.

I still remember Donald Penn being raked over the coals on social media by many Raider fans when he asked for a lot of money in his last contract.   Well he is worth it. He had his best year and didn’t allow a sack until Carr was hurt late in the season; and on that play he slipped.

The OL will stay intact but there will be some changes. Menelik Watson is an UFA and may not be resigned. He is hurt a lot and his play is sporatic.   Mike Tice loved Jon Feliciano; I didn’t. I still didn’t get drafting him and he hasn’t been great either. Look for some new faces backing up the starters next year.

Tight End:

It’s hard to evaluate the TE’s because the Raiders throw so little to them (Part of the reason I didn’t like Bill Musgrave’s offense). During the year they were always top 8 in catches v.s. targets.   When they were thrown too they usually caught the ball.

Clive Walford is a good blocker and pass catcher. Mychal Rivera is a good pass catcher but can’t block and may not be resigned. Lee Smith; a loss that no one brings up that was a big one; will be back after breaking his ankle in week 4. He is the best run blocking tight end in the NFL and can catch a ball or two when needed.

Defensive Line:

The great Woody Hayes once said when asked about the potential of his freshman QB Rod Gerald, “Potential? Potential means you ain’t no damn good yet!”. The Raiders can’t be enamored with potential anymore. They need results.

The Raiders were LAST; DEAD LAST in sacks. They also were last in yards per play (6.1). I said it last year and I’m saying it this year; clean house in the DL.   Stacy McGee and Denico Autry have shown glimpses of good play, but injuries and inconsistencies have limited their success. McGee is UFA and Autry is restricted. Raiders need to move on unless the price is right.

I ripped on the Jihad Ward draft pick and still don’t get it. He started 13 games this year and played in all 16; did anyone notice?   They drafted him too high but I would not have drafted him at all. You can’t miss on early picks in the salary cap era.

Dan Williams and Justin Ellis were bad this year and their days are numbered.

The best way to help your DB’s is to have a great pass rush. The Raiders have to sign or draft a DT that can put pressure on the QB.   Mario Edwards so far isn’t the answer either. He’s hurt too much and has had some good play but it’s still not a given he’ll be good. Aldon Smith? In my personal life I avoid high maintenance people or drama so this whole thing gives me a headache.

Linebackers:

The Raiders LB’s this year at times were awful. They could not cover tight ends and they struggled in the running game. Malcolm Smith gets lots of tackles but many are much more downfield than they would like. He usually is good in coverage but he struggled at times there too.   He’s never been great against the run; that’s why in Seattle he was not a 3 down LB; and he’s not now to be honest.   Do you resign him for big money? No.   Lesser money? OK. He along with Perry Riley Jr. are UFA. Riley Jr. played great when he was first picked up but his play tapered off the longer he was on the field. He’s an ok player but as a starter, he may not be the answer.

The Raiders need to sign a physical LB that can shore up the position and they still haven’t found that.

Defensive Backs:

Clean House. For years the Raiders have wasted a ton of money, draft picks and signings on DB’s to fix their defense and it hasn’t worked. I’d rather spend less money on them and more money on the DL. The Matt McGloin fan club has almost been as annoying as the DJ Hayden fan club. No he’s not a shut down corner.   No he’s not a great slot cover guy.   Let him go. It didn’t work and I said it when he was drafted; it was a bad pick and it’s time to move on.

When Raider fans last year had David Amerson as the king of the world while holding up Pro Football Focus stats, I said hold your horses and give it time. I was right. Amerson is good on outs and short to mid range passes but he struggles a lot against the long ball. He was burned often this year with the deep ball and it’s the reason he struggled at Washington. The poor play of the safeties didn’t help him either.

Nate Allen has been a bust. He and Reggie Nelson take so many bad angles it’s hard to watch. Allen is an UFA and I let him go. Bad signing. TJ Carrie is more of a backup and Keith McGill was very bad at times and his days may be numbered.

Karl Joseph struggled in pass coverage but did well against the run for the most part.   Hopefully a healthy year and experience will fix that but the Raiders are hoping he’s not injury prone.

Sean Smith was a huge bust. Many of the people ripping on Smith now were applauding his signing back then (see, being a GM isn’t so easy). Smith is tentative and I’ve never seen a guy give so much cushion near the end zone. A couple of writers said he needs better technique; huh? So he’s great for 3 years but he forgot everything the next? Come on.   The truth is Smith played on a team known for their pass rush and great safety play at Kansas City. He seems to need it and he gets neither in Oakland.   The Raiders are stuck with him for one more year at least; possibly two.

Coaches:

Jack Del Rio has done a good job but these dumb penalties still need to be fixed.  Also, the Raiders lifeless performance against Denver can’t happen.  Even if you lose your QB you still die hard.  Del Rio has said the standards need to be higher now and that’s a good sign.

I don’t know what else Ken Norton Jr. was supposed to do. He did a great job at Seattle but Seattle had players. The Raiders LB’s are not good and their DB’s are worse.   Then add the poor DT play. Their Safeties and LB’s flat out can’t guard TE’s.   They have the worst pass rush in the NFL. Love to see what genius can make that work. The Raiders agree with me and are bringing back Ken Norton Jr. for 2017.

Some Raider fans are clamoring for Wade Phillips to take over as DC. Only thing is, Denver was 28th in the NFL against the run this year and it was one of the main reasons they struggled. What was different? Stud run stopper Malik Jackson signed with Jacksonville and LB Danny Trevathan signed with Chicago. The year before? Denver was #3 in the NFL against the run. Did Phillips forget how to stop the run? No. He didn’t have the same players.   Coaches help but some fans need to stop giving all the credit to the players when they win and then blame the coaches when their favorites don’t play well.

I wrote this article below when Bill Musgrave was signed and I flat out didn’t get it. The Raiders letting him go is a good thing. (Conservative; poor adjustments in game). The Raiders have the 2nd best OL in the NFL and great talent on offense.  They were #6 in the NFL in offense because of their great talent; not because of Bill Musgrave.

The only thing is they sure like to hire their friends.   Todd Downing goes from QB coach to OC.   Downing is a good friend of Mike Tice who hired Downing in the early 2000’s when he was coaching the Vikings.   He has very limited success up until now. Time will tell. Rookie OC’s don’t tear up the NFL either for the most part.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/who-is-bill-musgrave-the-raiders-hire-a-new-offensive-coordinator/

How to Keep the Success:

With Mack and Carr making so little money compared to others, the Raiders have had it easy.   Now the hard work comes in. The Raiders can still keep their success but they have to stop taking reaches on some draft choices and their signings have to be right on. They also can’t keep dead wood around if they aren’t getting the job done or staying healthy.

Like everyone else, the Raiders have holes to fill; mainly on defense. For me, DT, LB and DB should be addressed in that order.   Personally, the Allen’s, Murray’s and Malcolm Smith’s of the Raider world may have to go. Even if they are doing a fairly good to good job, it’s all about the salary cap and staying under it. Look for the chips to fall after they sign Derek Carr. This will be the most important off season for the Raiders in 15 years, and one of the most interesting.  It will be stressful but exciting to see what they do.

“The Oakland Raiders Mindset on Day 1; In Depth Evaluation of Karl Joseph; Lot’s of Good, Little Bad”

 

karl joseph
First Round Selection for the Oakland Raiders, Karl Joseph S

Raiders Draft Day 1; What They Thought About:

I love draft day and it is always good to reconnect with old friends for the 17th time.  Draft day is special to us and we love it.

To start out I was shocked when ESPN was reporting that the Raiders were going to take William Jackson III out of Houston.  I watched him play in 3 games and he was kind of soft in my mind but he was a great athlete.  A rich man’s DJ Hayden.  The NFL and NFL junkies LOVE their athletes but I only love athletes if they have an instinct for football.

Reggie Ragland was plummeting like a stone due to a story that broke that he had an enlarged aorta.  That isn’t rare and he can live a normal life with yearly checkups.  Problem is the hyper neurotic NFL is NOT going to want to take a chance like that.

Myles Jack (does any of these agents ever tell their clients to keep their mouths shut?) in another “I’m an open book” moment told Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post/NFL that he has a degenerative condition that may require microfracture surgery in the future.  In an innocent tweet, Hubbuch reported this.  Jack’s exact quote was, “If I can play 3 years in the NFL then that would be above average.”  Yikes.  Bart confirmed that’s what Jack said.  Yes kids I did my homework so you don’t have to!

Injury reports are a hit or a miss thing.  Remember Star Lotulelei?  The Utah DL stud was considered a top 3 pick but in pre draft checkups he had a heart condition that was created by a bad virus he had.  After two weeks he was cured of the virus and his heart function was normal but that didn’t matter.  The NFL freaked out and he dropped like a stone to Carolina at #14 and now he stars for Carolina who just went to the Super Bowl.  In my 2013 draft I picked Star; the Raiders picked DJ Hayden. (ok ok, the counseling about the Raiders bad drafts didn’t cure me after all).

In last years draft 15 minutes before the first pick ESPN radio announced that Leonard Williams shoulder may need surgery and he may be out for the year.  The top 2-4 pick dropped to 6.  The shoulder injury was from 2013 and since then  Williams didn’t miss a game.  Remember ESPN saying Carr broke his wrist before the season last year?  You have to be careful with all these rumors; many of these reports are to freak people out so they will listen or read what they’ve created.  Oh those ad dollars will make you lie like a beast.

One thing that many have talked about outside of California is just how little California fans watch and like college football.  Many really don’t know much about the players other than highlight tapes.  Nothing wrong with that but it’s just not their thing. I feel like an SEC/Big 10 guy sometimes trapped in a Pac 12 body.  I love college football so much and on a cold & wet Saturday, good food, good company, a fire and lots of college games is a joy to me.

Why Karl Joseph?:

First off in my draft I chose DL Shaq Lawson.  I had Joseph as a late first rounder or early second round talent.  The Raiders wanted Karl Joseph in the second round but they didn’t think he’d last until their pick.  I think the Raiders also felt Reggie Ragland was going to fall like a rock and he has.  I think no way without that health report is he not going in the first round.

Even though this wasn’t a great value pick in my mind, the Raiders may have thought that Ragland would be there to them in the second round so in reality they would get their safety and their MLB.  If that was their thinking, wow is that smart.  If not, then you just hope it works out.

The Raiders need a starting MLB in This Draft.

Other than Ragland I don’t think any of the MLB draft choices are ready to start.  It’s a bad year for MLB.  There may be a dark horse.  I do love Scooby Wright III out of Arizona though because he is just a ball hawk and a tackling machine so picking him up wouldn’t be the dumbest thing.  Some have him going round 3, others on day 3.  Critics say he’s not fast enough to cover the pass but they said the same thing about Zach Thomas and recently 49ers Chris Borland and they excelled big time.  Wright is a tough, smart football player and I get him in the 3rd or 4th round all day.  He’s too talented to not have on the field and even as a backup he’s much better than Ben Heeney.

(I’m not a big highlight video guy; the games are what shows the truth but just a few plays to let people know who he is.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M1PTdQyRVY

The Positives of Karl Joseph;

(Read above; I’m not a big highlight video guy; anyone can look good in them; but here is a little sample of Karl’s good plays.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L88OIVNvsVA

Grades from Yahoo Sports to ESPN had this pick as a C- to a B+.  I predict he will be a huge fan favorite.  He’s an old school safety that loves to tackle and hit people.  He has a passion for football and is a born leader.  His technique is solid and he often hits runners flush.  If you are looking for an NFL combine genetic freak who runs 4.3 40’s then this isn’t your guy.  Karl is one thing; a football player.  The word that is used most to describe Joseph is that he is a thumper.  He’s a physical player who loves to hit people.  He’s a good tackler and is excellent against the run, mixed in with quality pass coverage talent.  His weight is between 195-205 lbs. so at 5’ 10” he’s not a huge guy.

Remember that newly signed S Reggie Nelson is going to be 33 in September so he’s only going to be playing in Oakland for 1-2 years.  Safety will be a priority.

Some will say oh great, Mike Mitchell 2.  But that’s not the case.  Joseph is a good cover guy and is a ball hawk.  He’s smart with good instinct.  He plays very physical football and rarely misses tackles.  Mitchell was just a hitter who could run fast.

At 5’ 10” people are calling him a poor mans Bob Sanders, the Colts great safety (Sanders was 5’ 8” or 5’ 9” depending on who you asked).  A compact guy who always seemed to be around the ball making plays.  Joseph is a very confident player with football smarts who should fit in nicely with the Raiders defense. Look for the Raiders to put Reggie Nelson at Strong Safety and Joseph to Free Safety.

The negatives:

He’s coming off an October ACL injury and probably will not be 100% the first part of the season.

Before he got hurt he ran a legitimate timed 4.6 40 which isn’t burning up anyone’s speed meter (he ran from 4.5 to 4.7) but he’s fast enough.  He’s a risk taker at times and sometimes got burned trying to do too much.  For good or bad, with his slower 40 time, Al Davis doesn’t make this pick.

Many wonder with his size and style of play can he stay healthy.  Bob Sanders was a beast when he played but he was hurt; a lot.  As people saw with Charles Woodsen, he said he wanted to play 10 more years after week 6.  The Raiders then put LB’s on the tight ends because the Raiders were struggling covering TE’s and this freed Woodsen up to stop the run and he took a beating.  He announced he was retiring after week 14.  Playing safety in the NFL is a rough go and a healthy one is key to having success.

Was Choosing Joseph a good pick:

NO ONE.  I mean NO ONE has been as honest as I have been about the Raiders and their draft picks for the last 13 years.  I’m not a homer and I’m not a hater; that’s why both those groups don’t like me sometimes.  I deal with what is and not with what might be.  I have the following I have for a reason and that’s because like or dislike what I write, you get honesty.

That being said, I say this is a solid B+ pick.  I like Joseph’s instinct and hitting ability.  He has great technique and he’s a ball hawk.  Another swagger guy but he has a passion for the game and is a born leader.  These are the guys the Raiders are stock piling.

He’s smart and a good solid player that will make plays at safety.  He loves hitting and tackling and if he can stay healthy, he will be a solid player for years to come.  He’s not Jack Tatum but he’s also not Mike Mitchell, Patrick Bates or Derrick Gibson.  I don’t think Joseph is a top 15 pick but there was no way he was going to be there in the 2nd round so I understand the pick and it’s all good.

If the Raiders get Ragland in round two than I give this pick a big fat A +.  The Raiders still need a MLB desperately but this is a nice start to the draft.

“Oakland Raiders Draft Preview: Players That Can Help Immediately in Round 1”

 

 

NFL logo and set are seen at New York's Radio City Music Hall before the start of the 2013 NFL Draft
The Pre NFL Draft Scene

Are you sick of the words moving, stadium, Schaaf, Davis and Los Angeles?   Are you sick of crazy rumors that always end up to be false? Me too.   Let’s actually look intelligently into the future of the Raiders ON THE FIELD. Come on kids, who’s with me?

The Raiders ended up the season 7-9 and they will be drafting in the 14th spot in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Mock Draft Mania:

I think what bothers me about mock drafts is how mind numbingly wrong so many of them are. I was shocked at some of Pro Football Focus, Bleacher Report and FanSided’s writers mocks, and even NFL.com’s writers mock drafts.   I mean did they ever watch a game in college? They don’t use common sense.   People forget that a few years ago Mel Kiper Jr. got 1; thats right; one pick right in the first round. And this is from a guru that people pay ESPN to check out his insider mock drafts! Insiders are so wrong so often that as a fan, you should take mock drafts with a grain of salt.  Do you actually think NFL teams are going to be honest and tell sports writers what they are going to do?  Al Davis in his younger days would leak fake rumors just to mess with writers and other teams.

What changes this years draft is Hue Jackson being hired in Cleveland.   Many have commented he is not a fan of Johnny Manziel so instead of Joey Bosa you could see California QB Jarod Goff going to Cleveland at #2. Let’s look at some of the talent that could come Oakland’s way next year.

Possible Picks:

Shawn+Robinson+Oklahoma+v+Alabama+SzV8kZrawVrl
A’Shawn Robinson vs Oklahoma

A’Shawn Robinson: DT Alabama

My favorite player in the draft after Jaylon Smith got hurt. Remember; a strong DL covers up DB’s issues. Look at the 4 teams left in the playoffs. Seattle has the best defensive backfield in the NFL but when the pass rush struggles, even they are toast.   Some have Robinson going in the early or middle part of the first round but wow would he be a steal. He’s the best DL on the best defense. One announcer said he looks like a fast vending machine. He is 6′ 3″ 320 and he’s quick; he’s hurdled more than a few offensive blockers in his time too. Many feel he’s just beginning to get his stride as a pass rusher. He could be effective immediately and could play all 3 downs. He’s my #1 DL in the draft even over Joey Bosa; a special talent that can’t be passed up by the Raiders if he is available which may or may not happen.   How about him, Aldon Smith, Kahlil Mack & Ellis rushing the passer next year. For the first time in years I’d be happy with the Raiders DL and so would fans.

 

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama
Reggie Raglund vs Texas A & M

Reggie Ragland: LB Alabama  

Ragland is a rugged and physical MLB who is a good tackler and a popular name for mock drafters. He is fast but doesn’t have blazing speed. He’s also a popular teammate and leader as well. The problem with Alabama LB’s is that you really don’t know if they can cover anyone in the passing game. They play zone and rely on their pass rush so their LB’s rarely play man to man coverage. If he can cover in the NFL he is going to be a good one.

Mackensie alexander1
Mackensie Alexander vs Oklahoma

Mackensie Alexander: CB Clemson

Teams either love him or hate him. Some have him going as high as 6th and some have him going in the second round.   The ACC isn’t the greatest conference as is seen by their lack of bowl success every year but Alexander is the real deal in my book. I love an NFL draft writer on Bleacher Report who complained that he didn’t have an interception this year; well when you give up only 11 catches all year and no one throws your way, you are not going to have interceptions. Too many stat ho’s. He is aggressive, athletic and has great instincts in coverage which will be a breath of fresh air after watching DJ Hayden for 3 years. I’ll miss the DJ Hayden apologists though.   Ok maybe not so much.

11.21.15_MSU FTBL VS OHIO STATE
Jack Conklin vs Ohio St.

Jack Conklin: OT Michigan St.

If the Raiders want to go OT here, some are saying Taylor Decker from OSU, but I like Conklin better. Decker looks better in his uniform and is very tall (6′ 7″) but he isn’t consistent enough for me in the run game and Conklin is a Raider. Conklin plays hard every play and he’s a big physical guy with a mean streak. A bruising OL that wears defensive players down. I see him starting in a year or two if not earlier. He’s smart and physical and I love his game.

ezekiel elliott
Ezekiel Elliott vs Western Michigan

Ezekiel Elliott: RB Ohio St.

I think a few Raider fans pretty much want all pro’s at every offensive position so this is a pick for them. I think teams that draft well are fans of the best player available and even though I don’t think this pick would happen, this still is the Raiders and you never know. I think Elliott is better than Heisman winner Derrick Henry. Alabama always has near the best OL in college and they never get the credit when their RB’s do so well. With Eddie Lacy struggling last year, Alabama RB’s haven’t exactly tore up the NFL the last 10 years. Elliott is big, fast and strong and he’s a work horse. He was never asked to catch the ball much so he’ll have to learn with experience. People forget that Barry Saunders averaged a little over 2 catches a game in his career and he wasn’t in the lineup often for the Lions on passing downs.

Elliott has a little prima donna in him but he’s a physical, talented player. The Raiders could move or let go of Reece and Murray and give the starting nod to Elliott and let Roy Helu Jr. take the 3rd down role for every week and not just week 17. Again, crazier things have happened but it’s a long shot. Eli Manning isn’t the type of QB to carry a team so to me, Elliott has NY Giants at #10 written all over him, but who knows. Again, if he’s there his talent is hard to pass up.

 

Mississippi v Mississippi State
Laquon Treadwell vs Mississippi St.

Laquon Treadwell: WR Mississippi

Think Dez Bryant or Larry Fitzgerald. Personally I think the Raiders need an upgrade at #3 WR but defense is a much bigger need. I had high hopes for Andre Holmes but he’s not getting much playing time. Seth Roberts is ok but when others are double teamed he should be.

 Treadwell has good size and good speed even though he’s not a speedster.   He is a quiet guy but a total leader type who makes big plays in the biggest games. He came back from a horrific ankle injury as good as new. A playmaker in the biggest sense with great hands. He will make one team very happy and has the potential to be a #1 WR. His value is again all over the board. Some have him going #4 to the Cowboys and some have him going into the early second round. Again, the mock draft world.

Shaq Lawson
Shaq Lawson vs Oklahoma

Shaq Lawson: DE Clemson

Another Clemson guy Jim? Yes.   He can speed or bull rush and he can stop the run. He’s a playmaker and a leader and he’s quick as a cat. If he’s still available you just can’t pass him up. His projection is also all over the place. Some have him going #7 and some have him going all the way to #26. Welcome to the guessing game which is the NFL mock draft. Talents like this can’t be passed up though. Ask Denver how fun it is having DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as rushing bookends.

Please Don’t Pick Them Award:

Robert-Nkemdiche
Roebert Nkemdche vs Louisiana Lafayette

Robert Nkemdiche: DL Ole Miss

He famously fell out of a hotel window while partying with his boys and fell 15 feet and needed an ambulance. They then found 7 joints in his hotel room and he was arrested. To be honest for some of the crimes college players have done or have been accused of, that’s kind of tame in my book.   What worries me more than that is that I think he’s overrated. Many SEC players get way too much publicity and I think this guy is one of those.

When supposed future all world DE/LB Jadeveon Clowney was in the draft, I pointed out to everyone how poor he had played in his last 8 college games.   Oh the hate. One guy called me the dumbest writer he’d ever read. I pointed out that Teams were actually running at him and his stats were not very good. I saw the same thing with Nkemdiche. In his last 6 games he averaged only 2.5 tackles a game and he had 3 sacks all season. I’m not a fan of his but some love this guy. He’s another popular player going to the Raiders in some mock drafts. I doubt he will be chosen considering how the Raiders have concentrated on character guys. I’d pass on him.

 

kendall fuller
Kendall Fuller

Kendall Fuller: CB Virginia Tech

I think Kendall Fuller is this years DJ Hayden. I think his stock will rise at the NFL combines and mark it down; I have a bad feeling this is going to be the Raiders pick. He’s athletic and fast. At the start of the season Fuller was considered a top CB in college. He was torched often in the Ohio St. game and looked overwhelmed and lost. He then got hurt in week three with a knee injury and missed the rest of last season.   Rumors already have the Steelers liking him especially with their weak defensive backfield. I don’t like this pick. His weakness is that he has poor instincts as a DB. Virginia Tech has an aggressive defense but there is a lot of freelancing. Many times Fuller looks at the QB too much and loses track of his man. I just do not like this guy but the NFL combine 40 times have screwed the Raiders for years with many poor DB draft picks and I hope they don’t do it again.   I think Fuller is no where near as good as Alexander.

 

jaylon smith
Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith: LB Notre Dame

Before his injury this was my favorite pick in college. Fast, a great tackler, good leader can play all downs; then he had that horrific injury.

The “rome wasn’t built in a day” stuff is old to many fans.   Some fans say that every time a new coaching staff is hired and many Raider fans are done with it after 13 years of non winning seasons. The Raiders need to win now. Smith tore 2 ligaments and in no way will be full strength next year. Smith is all about speed so for me this is just too much of a risk. One ligament maybe; but not two. It takes a good year to fully recover from this injury and it may take 2, and who knows how healthy he will be. Patience isn’t bliss anymore in Oakland.

 

These are just a handful of the names that you will be hearing about.  There are others that I feel would be good picks and we’ll share them at another time.