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“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.

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“We Fixed the Oakland Raiders Offense Yesterday; Now Let’s Fix the Defense”

Aldon Smith, Tyler Eifert
Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith (99) is blocked by Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Today we will look at the Raiders defense and see what needs to be done to make this a winning unit.

Last night when the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills, you saw the power of a stud defensive line.  The Patriots were playing with third string players in some offensive positions but they still won.  The Patriots didn’t get a lot of sacks but the relentless pressure they put on Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was a key to that win.  Their cornerback’s are just alright but with a pass rush they become much better.

You don’t win on defense with a stud defensive backfield.  Seattle still has the best DB’s in the business but they are struggling in close games.  Why?  Teams now double team DL Michael Bennett and the other players on the line are not getting to the quarterback.

Lets look at recent NFL history.  Harbaugh’s 49ers; Seattle; Arizona; Carolina; New England; New York Giants Super Bowl years; what do these successful teams have in common?  STUD defensive lines that can control games.  The Giants beat the great Tom Brady because their DL dominated.  If you can rush the QB with only 4 players and stop the run, your defense alone can win games.  The Broncos offense is awful but their defensive line is really good.  Carolina’s DL literally controls the game while Cam Newton gets most of the publicity.  People forget the early games when he struggled.  If you have a really good defensive front, then you are going to straight up win in the NFL.  A good DL covers up a lot of issues.

Defense: 

I like Ken Norton Jr. and think he will do a good job.  He’s aggressive and has adapted more on a week to week basis than others have in the past.  He’s blitzed a lot more as the year went on and that is a good thing.  He is even blitzing DJ Hayden more which in the end somewhat hides him against the pass.  Not a dumb thing.

The defense has struggled for the most part and is near the bottom in some defensive categories against the pass.

Defensive Line:

If you want to turn your team around quickly, have a great DL that can rush the passer and stop the run.  The Raiders haven’t had that in years.  When you look at the Super Bowl wins for the Raiders, EVERY win was marked by dominating defensive front play literally beating up the opponents quarterback.

Khalil Mack is a really good NFL player but he’s not the superstar that the media tried to hype him to be.  He disappears in some games.  He was completely shut out in the Pittsburgh game, and against the Ravens and the Chargers, he had 3 tackles and no sacks combined.  Aldon Smith has been a solid player for the Raiders but it’s obvious he’s not the super talent that he was at San Francisco.  He played in the awesome 49er’s defense beside the great Justin Smith who got double teamed getting coffee.  Aldon is a good player and a keeper though and he is young.  The Raiders look like they will keep him which is a very smart thing.

Justin Ellis has had his moments but none of the other DL have shown they are starting NFL material.  Some are trying to hype Mario Edwards but I’m not buying it yet.  He may end up being good but he has a long way to go.  Getting NFL rookie of the week when you are on a DL that gave up 269 yards rushing against Minnesota isn’t exactly epic material.  The Raiders DL need to make plays at the line of scrimmage and not down the field.

Dan Williams has really been good against the run but he’s often seeing double teams now so the others need to step up.  Williams also is a bad pass rusher so he’s limited.

The Jets have a mess on their DL for next year.  DE Muhammad Wilkerson is a really a good player and he said he’s tired of getting underpaid and nose tackle/tackle Damon Harrison is another good player that may be available if the Jet’s don’t resign him.  They need to spend a lot of money and they can’t keep them all.  Add a DE to play until Smith gets back, and then when Smith gets back move Mack to LB.  Michael Bennett is still wanting out of Seattle after his walkout and he could be had with a trade.  There are not many players in the NFL as disruptive as Bennett.  He has a mean streak that is missing in Oakland.

In the end the Raiders need a tackle that can stop the run and rush the passer.  They may not be able to get any of the top players but there are those that can help immediately.

Linebacker:

This group also struggles at times because most of them have weaknesses.  Curtis Lofton is good against the run but bad against the pass.  He has improved some, but Malcolm Smith is good against the pass but bad against the run.  Ben Heeney has had to play and to be honest I loved watching him in college.  Unfortunately he’s not a good tackler and he struggles in the passing game.  In fact in his final year at Kansas he lead the nation in missed tackles.  He’s not a starter but great off the bench or in special teams.  Moving Mack back to LB immediately helps this group.

They need Mack back there to help them out but with Aldon Smith out, the Raiders are kind of stuck right now.  Lofton needs to be moved but the Raiders can’t afford the cap hit to let him go.  He’s probably here for 1 more year.

I’m not a Ray Ray Armstrong fan; I think he’s not a really good starter.  There are solid CB’s and LB’s in next years draft but to rely on a rookie is risky.  The Raiders linebackers have been somewhat disappointing and they are handcuffed by contracts somewhat but they still can upgrade in free agency.

Defensive Backs:

The Raiders defensive backs have struggled.  Woodsen struggled early guarding tight ends but he has rebounded.  He’s taken a beating this year though and his days are numbered.  Nate Allen hasn’t played much this year and he had issue’s tackling Sunday.  The DJ Hayden experiment will be over at the end of the year.  He’s just not a starting NFL CB.  David Amerson has had his good moments but he’s a nickel back at best.  TJ Carrie looked better at safety than he did at cornerback and I would move him there.  I like Carrie and think he can excel there.

The Raiders first round pick will probably be a cornerback or a safety.  They also will need to find a CB in free agency.  When the defensive line can’t get a pass rush, it’s hard to watch this defensive backfield struggle.

Kickers:

The Raiders are fine at kicker and punter.  Marquette King is solid and a positive influence and Sebastian Janikowski is fine.  He will have his bad moments but for the most part he’s very good.

Conclusion:

People got carried away when the Raiders won a few games.  I saw people predicting 10-6 to 12-4 and post season glory.  It’s hard to beat down on people that want to be so positive, but it was pie in the sky.  There are still issues in Oakland.  The Raiders have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr and that is half of the battle.

At the start of the year I said that the Raiders would be 8-8 and they are going to have to go 4-2 the rest of the year to get to that.  They also have some tough games ahead.  I don’t think people should lose their minds if the Raiders lose but you have to be real at some point.  If you are a good team you win.  It’s really not that hard.

Moral victories are for elementary school plays, rehabbing from an injury, and pee wee soccer games.  They have had time to rebuild this team and they need to start winning.  The Raiders have improved and that is encouraging but being 4-6 when the AFC and the AFC West is so bad is a head scratcher.  Some are still talking playoffs and to be honest it’s kind of embarrassing to think they may go to the post season only because the rest of the league is so bad.

The Raiders have made it an art form on talking about what might happen in the future but they need to deal with the reality of the situation.  They are 4-6, with a defense that has struggled this year; especially against the pass; and an offense that has scored in only 2 of the last 8 quarters.  Tough decisions are ahead.

For many it’s time to be honest and go old school and bring back the days when losing was unacceptable.  With the salary cap, the Raiders will never be the juggernaut they were in the 1970’s and 80’s but there is no excuse for not being a competitive team year in and year out.  Support and nurture those players that are a part of the solution, and move on from the players that aren’t.  Time will tell if the Raiders can turn this thing around and Mark Davis, GM Reggie McKenzie & the Raiders players are on the hot seat.  No matter what happens this year, if the Raiders do not go to the playoffs next year, they need to get people in the front office and players on the field that can make it happen.