Tag Archives: ncaa

“Why Alabama is the Best & Oklahoma is Just OK; 2 Programs That Went In Opposite Directions”

 

nick_saban_09182012

What a difference 10 years makes.

As I looked over the Oklahoma media offerings this last week, I read 19 articles on the reason the media said Oklahoma lost to Ohio St.   Only 2 writers got it right.   Let’s go on a 10 year journey for answers to why Oklahoma is just OK, and Alabama is the best program in the country.

The Reality in Norman:

Dozens of Sooner fans either blocked or unfollowed me on Twitter at the start of the season when I said this was a 3 to 4 loss Oklahoma team.   In my mind it was a mistake that people had them as the #3 team in the nation. In fact at the start of the season I had Houston and Alabama playing for the National Championship. I’m a closet Sooner fan; I still have my throwback Billy Sims Jersey in my closet; but we need to look at the facts.

Bob Stoops
Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops comments on his team during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

When Bob Stoops Arrived at Oklahoma:

When Bob Stoops and his defensive coordinator/brother Mike Stoops first came to Norman, it was a breath of fresh air. With one of the richest football traditions in the country, Bob took over after the John Blake era which was a train wreck. Bob Stoops won a national championship beating four top 5 teams along the way, including #1 Nebraska.

The Stoops brothers were aggressive and they had dominating defenses.  The Sooners dismantled Florida St in the National Championship game 13-2 with one of the great defensive performances in college football history.  It was a magical year in the OK state.

Stoops also embraced the tradition. Here is a school that still holds the record for most wins in a row in College Football history at 47. And he showed great respect for their head coach Bud Wilkinson. Many remember the hitch and trailer play against #1 Nebraska in the National Championship year to honor the team of the 1970’s who used that play to help beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Many also remember on their own 29 yard line in Tuscaloosa, using a fake punt in the third quarter and then throwing a bomb on the next play for a touchdown to help beat Alabama on the road. I remember a lot of great risks and fun payoffs. Those days are long gone.

I also remember Sooner fans booing for 3 hours a couple of years ago watching OU’s CB’s playing 10-15 yards off of the line of scrimmage against Baylor like it was pitch and catch in the backyard. The aggressive magic turned into old man conservatism.

Nick Saban Comes To Alabama:

People forget what a train wreck the Alabama Football program was before Nick Saban. There were several scandals, two probations, wins that were forfeited, and the firing of newly hired head coach Mike Price who was a little too wild at a strip club in Florida.   Add the over-matched Mike Shula’s coaching tenure and this once proud program had become a dysfunctional mess.   All that’s forgotten now.   Saban’s first press conference was filled with excitement.

 

Saban was the conquering hero at LSU in college but in the pro’s the media ate him up; especially during his second year which ended 6-10. Like most college coaches he was used to the college media bubble that can be mostly controlled by the coaches. In the pro’s a coach was like a raw steak in a lake full of piranha. His players didn’t like him, and neither did the media. After he left Miami, for months ESPN and NFL reporters all over the country destroyed Saban. They called him Nicktator and Nick Satan. I’ve never in my lifetime seen a coach so hated in one place and loved in another.   And to be honest he probably deserved a little of both. In 2010 he somewhat apologized for his “lack of professionalism” in Miami but it didn’t help.

The NFL Network has trashed him on several worst of lists including the below video (pretty harsh) naming him the 7th worst college coach to ever coach in the NFL. Many remember him scolding the Miami media for weeks saying he wasn’t leaving when in reality he had been talking to the late Alabama AD Mal Moore for weeks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LNA4eiqw4s

Here is the explanation in the book “Saban; The Making of a Coach”.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sports/football/new-book-nick-sabans-wife-wanted-out-of-miami-push/nm2Ty/

Oklahoma Going Down, Alabama and the SEC Going Up in Recruiting:

When Saban arrived from Miami, he immediately went on a recruiting blitz. He didn’t have the time the other schools did to recruit his first year; he arrived late; but he immediately improved his first class in 2007 and didn’t just blow the year off. That helped set a tone.  The biggest reason Alabama is the best is because they recruit the best and have the best talent.  CBS reported that 80% of Bama’s players are 4 or 5 star recruits.  That’s unreal.

The SEC has 3 of the best recruiters in college football. Mario Cristobal at Alabama, Tommy Thigpen at Tennessee, and Corey Raymond at LSU.   These are the guys doing the dirty work of visiting high schools, kissing babies, eating mom’s apple pie and talking to dad’s about the good ol’ days. Imagine Mario Cristobal wooing you and then Nick Saban closing the deal.   That’s tough to beat.

Urban Meyer got all the credit at Florida but who was one of his key recruiters?   Charlie Strong the new Head Coach at Texas. Strong went on to great success at Louisville and just had a top ten recruiting class for Texas in 2016.

Another thing Alabama has done in the recruiting wars is dominate the offensive and defensive line position. In the last 3 years Alabama had the #1 ranked offensive line class in the nation.   Their defensive line doesn’t miss out either. They are either #1 or #2 for the last 6 years. The NFL draft shows the fruits of their success.

While most teams are going to finesse offenses using the spread, Alabama for the most part has kept their roots. Saban has allowed OC Lane Kiffin to open up things in the past but when the chips are down, the power running game is what they are all about.

Alabama’s first recruiting class with Saban in 2007 was #17 in the Nation. Then the magic started to begin. It’s amazing what happened.

Recruiting Rankings:

2007:

Oklahoma #5

Alabama #17

 

2008

Oklahoma #8

Alabama #3

 

2009

Oklahoma #11

Alabama #2

 

2010

Oklahoma #20

Alabama #3

 

Now let’s fast forward to the last 4 years.

(www.rivals.com)

2013

Oklahoma #15 (0 five star, 7 four star)

Alabama #1 (4 five star, 13 four star)

 

2014

Oklahoma #15 (1 five star, 8 four star)

Alabama #1 (6 five star, 13 four star)

 

2015

Oklahoma #14 (0 five star, 14 four star)

Alabama #2 (4 five star, 14 four star)

 

2016

Oklahoma #16 (1 five star, 10 four star)

Alabama #1 (5 five star, 10 four star)

 

2017

Oklahoma #4

Alabama #2

In some publications, Alabama just had their sixth straight #1 college football recruiting class. Oklahoma’s highest recruiting class in that time was #14.

In the last four years these are the 4 & 5 star players:

Oklahoma: (2 five star, 39 four star)

Alabama: (19 five star, 50 four star)

There is good news for the Sooners though; Bob Stoops has rebounded in 2017 and OU is now ranked the #4 recruiting class so far. That team from Tuscaloosa? #2 so far. Now many things can happen; some players change teams like the wind so there is still a lot of work to do. Remember you are dealing with teenagers; but hopefully OU is back on track.

Alabama a Step Above:

The #1 thing is obviously they have the best players.  No one recruits like they do.

Innovation isn’t Saban’s thing.  What makes him great is preparation, readiness, teaching quality fundamentals and technique and demanding perfection.  It’s one thing to have the best players but you have to teach and coach them properly.

My dad was a great coach and he taught me so much.  Proper footwork, tackle readiness/positioning, balance; football is more in depth than fans think.  I love watching well coached teams.  From Alabama to Jim Harbaughs teams, to the great dynasty at North Dakota St. in the FCS, I really enjoy watching the teams play. I especially love defense.  The rules in college and the pro’s have made it a federal crime to breath near a WR or QB so passing is much easier in today’s game. That means a great pass rush is VITAL.  While other teams are still only rushing 3 men, Saban and other SEC schools get that a pass rush is important.  Some teams still don’t.

The average fan says it’s a passing game now and defense doesn’t matter as much. Problem is they are wrong.  The Big 12 seems to feel this way.  In reality though good defenses will beat good offenses most of the time.  Ask the Carolina Panthers and the Clemson Tigers from last year.  Ask Tom Brady how he feels about the NY Giants DL in the Super Bowl.

The SEC Formula; Nick Saban’s Way:

The SEC formula that Nick Saban uses is based on the 1970’s NFL; the greatest era of NFL football. It includes 5 things.

-have great team speed

-stop the run to make offenses predictable

-put great pressure on the QB and control the tempo

-have a great offensive and defensive line

-have a good power running game to run the ball when you need and want to.

Now some will say well of course you will win if you do all those things.  Then why doesn’t everyone do it?

Think about it.  The Big 12 struggles defensively and isn’t physical.  The Pac 12 isn’t physical other than Stanford and they lack team speed.  Michigan & Ohio St. are changing this but for the most part Big 10 teams lack team speed and the ACC; who has the worst winning % in the bowl series of any Big 5 Conference; also struggle defensively and lack physicality.  There are exception but this is the reality of each conference.

While many teams have fallen in love with the spread offense and throwing 50 times a game, Nick Saban goes with what brung him; defense & a physical running game makes him tick.

This is the way the Big 8 used to be when Oklahoma and Nebraska were winning National Championships. Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant did it; it’s old school football that Alabama plays with a little more modern passing offense. None of Sabans QB’s will tear up the NFL, but his defensive and offensive lines will.

Saban’s Way Saved the Mississippi Game:

I tweeted at halftime of the Mississippi Alabama game, “RUN THE BALL, RUN RUN RUN”. Alabama threw 23 times in the first half for 2.8 yards a reception. Bama was behind 24-17 and were lucky to be so close. They put the game’s hands in the arm of Jalen Hurt; a freshman QB; on the road. Hurt isn’t a particularly accurate thrower and he missed on some key passes, but wow can he run.

Alabama passed only 8 times in the second half and ran for over 334 yards and won 48-43. They ended the game with 7 yards per rush, and only 5.1 yards per reception. Don’t think for a second that Nick Saban didn’t tell OC Lane Kiffin at halftime, “we aren’t throwing 23 times this half”.

Bob Stoops To LSU?:

Many in Oklahoma are not real happy with Bob Stoops. There are rumors that he is being eyed for the head coaching spot in LSU. Because of the failures of late, Stoops has taken a beating in the media. I saw one article calling him Big Shame Bob instead of Big Game Bob. OU is now 8-9 in bowl games with Stoops as coach.

It’s hard to see him leaving OU but if he is going to stay he has to hit the recruiting trail. (LSU Job? Tom Herman of Houston is the sexy pick and I’d think he’d come but if he doesn’t, with Chip Kelly in a mess at San Francisco with their lack of talent; Kelly @ LSU?)

Some say Stoops got complacent in recruiting and the numbers back that. So if I were talking to Bob I’d tell him, “It’s ok Bob; you can keep the spread but you have to go back to what made your teams great from the beginning. A great OL & DL & a great defense. I have my 5 part formula above that you can use when recruiting. And if you don’t want to listen to me, get a hold of Nick Saban.  He’s got a copy”.

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“Answering Critics of The Oakland Raiders Draft; Why Draft Connor Cook? Grading the Picks.”

 

shilique calhoun
Michigan St. DE Shilique Calhoun against Ohio St.

For the first time in my life time, it seemed that most teams did fairly well at the 2016 NFL draft. One of those teams that did really well was the Oakland Raiders.

Many fans though have expressed their displeasure at certain picks, so let’s answer all the questions that people have in regards to these picks.

Value Pick v.s. Karl Joseph:

I got beaten up on Twitter a little bit when I was for the drafting of West Virginia Safety Karl Joseph. Like most people I had him as a top 30 player. My favorite DM on twitter was, “I thought you liked value picks; then how can you defend choosing Joseph?”

The answer to that is this. The Raiders desperately wanted Joseph in the second round. They also wanted Reggie Ragland. With the news coming that Ragland had an enlarged Aorta that would need yearly monitoring, Ragland dropped like a stone in the draft.   There were several teams that wanted Joseph in the late first round and early second round. NO WAY was Joseph falling to the Raiders in the second round.   The Raiders knew that to draft him they had to draft him earlier than expected. The hope was for Ragland to drop to them in the second round and he almost did; Buffalo nabbed him. But looking back Joseph is a really good player; probably a late first round talent that will greatly help your team. It was a risk they took and I would have too.

Emphasizing DL made me very happy. I’ve said it a million times; look at history; the DL is so important to Super Bowl winning teams.

Some say on social media, “where can you watch these players play?   I follow all the experts and I don’t see film on these guys”. The answer is, WATCH THE COLLEGE GAMES! College Football has DOZENS of stations that show games not once; but several times in reruns. Almost all college conferences have tv networks. You DVR the games and watch the players you want to see. If you watch a game and the player plays great or the announcers say he stands out you pay attention to them. If the player never gets mentioned but is drafted you say wow; I didn’t even remember this guy.

Our fathers began taping & recording famous games audio and then when VCR/VHS came out they taped the games. My dad has the Holy Roller on tape; a friend of mine’s dad has Notre Dame’s stunning upset of UCLA to snap their 88 game winning streak on a tape recording; from 1974! I have hundreds of games transferred to DVD in my large library at my home. If you are a sports & history junkie, start your own collection.

For example 2 years ago I taped 3 games with an up and comer in the NFL draft, WR Tre McBride from William & Mary. I fast forwarded and when you get the hang of it you can watch a players plays in 10-15 minutes. There are 128 college teams in Division 1 only, and many more in D II and DIII.   NFL is a passion for people; college football is a religion. Here in silicon Valley you can live stream anything and also don’t have to worry about regional games only being seen. We’re techies and you learn things.

With that being said let’s look at the Jihad Ward and Conner Cook picks below and all of the critic questions should be answered.

1st Round: Karl Joseph S (14, West Virginia)

I’ve already written about Joseph here.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/the-oakland-raiders-mindset-on-day-in-depth-evaluation-of-karl-joseph-lots-of-good-little-bad/

Grade A-

2nd Round Jihad Ward DL (44; Illinois)

I’m not a fan of this pick.  I thought the Raiders drafted him too early and even then I’m not a fan.  He’s more athlete than football player. The after draft comments were interesting. When Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was asked if Ward was raw he snapped that he wasn’t. “The defensive line isn’t like playing QB”. When GM Reggie McKenzie was asked, he stated, “he’s definitely raw but we are not looking at him having a redshirt year. Hopefully if we coach him up he can be ready to contribute something this season”.

I don’t like quoting Pro Football Focus but to the few that defend this pick; PFF comments on Ward, “he had the 69th overall grade of edge defenders”. PFF then went on to say he may end up being a good run defender. Later on they say he may be a good pass rusher.   (see why PFF drives some people crazy?)

I watched Illinois several times and to be honest I barely remembered him. This was a reach at best in my mind. I think the Raiders were shocked too when Austin Johnson; stud DL out of Penn St.; and MLB Reggie Ragland was taken before their pick. With Alabama DL’s AShawn Robinson & Jarran Reed; as well as Clemson CB stud Mackenzie Alexander still on the board; this pick makes no sense in my mind but who knows. He’s a good story and I hope he does well.

GRADE: C-

3rd Round: Shalique Calhoun DL (75, Michigan St.)

Michigan St. was in so many featured games even the casual fan saw them often. Calhoun was a stud on a very physical and talented defensive line that at times carried the Spartans and kept them in games. He had 27 sacks for his career and 44 tackles for loss. He’s a playmaking pass rusher that needs to bulk up a bit and improve his run stopping skills. Some scouts say he’s too passive. I don’t think he’ll have a middle ground. Could be a diamond in the rough or struggle. I think the positive greatly outweighs any negative.  Great Pick!

GRADE: B+

4th Round: Connor Cook QB (100, Michigan St.)

The Raiders traded up to get Cook at #100. This one still has Raider nation scratching their heads. Let’s look at the facts.

History again is so important. All of those people guaranteeing the Raiders will move up in the first round every year forget that they’ve never done it in 57 drafts yet every year they predict it. Look at history. Well this pick was ALL about Ron Wolf and his history.

When Reggie was learning under Raider and Green Bay Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, the Packers drafted QB’s all the time. I’ve said it for years. Every team should draft a QB every year in the late round.

Even with Brett Favre as their starter, Ron Wolf and the Packers drafted Mark Brunell (5th round), Aaron Brooks (4th round), and Matt Hasselbeck (6th round). These 3 became key NFL starters for other teams. (In a famous John Madden story, when Al Davis asked his staff about drafting a young Alabama QB with bad knees, Al’s staff said no. He then asked Ron Wolf who said yes; Ken Stabler was then drafted).

Wolf had an amazing eye for QB’s and ALL three of these picks were eventually traded for key draft picks and players who helped create a winning organization keeping talent flowing.

Some have now said trade Carr. Ridiculous; I personally don’t like Cook and don’t think he’s going to be a starting NFL QB; he’s not accurate in the medium and short game. Some teams like him though.  He’s also not exactly a leader type at times as was seen in some of his comments when he was injured and missed the Ohio St. game.   Some experts and teams will disagree with me but that’s my take. Some have said his personality is a turn off and he needs to greatly mature to be a leader in the Pro’s.

This was a Ron Wolf type pick that will eventually be trade bait if he pans out. If not, he can then be a backup.   Matt McGloin will be on trade watch this pre season. In today’s QB world with so little talent, teams are willing to risk money and picks on projects that they think they can make into something special and some will want Cook; maybe badly. If your starting QB goes down though, your team is in trouble.

GRADE B+

5th Round: Deandre Washington RB (143 Texas Tech)

I’m a Big 12 guy and I’d like to thank Deandre Washington for being such a fun player to watch these last 4 years. I hope he does well. Most had Washington either a 6 or 7th rounder; few had him in the 5th round; and a handful even had him going undrafted.

This is a productive player who plays hard every play.  He can catch and run and was a work horse back for the Red Raiders. He returned kicks as a freshman. Many scouts complained that Washington may be a system guy at Texas Tech. The Big 12 is known for bad defense and wild west offenses so some question his numbers.   He’s also only 5’ 8” 205 and many scouts said he will struggle pass blocking. He is not a speed merchant but he’s fast enough and he’s tougher than he looks.

I like Washington but my pick here was Paul Perkins who I like a little more.  Many had Perkins going in the 3-5th round. Washington is a bit of a reach but time will tell if he pans out. I think he can be a situational player and a good pass catcher.  A tough guy that plays confident with football smarts. Fans will enjoy this guy this season.

GRADE B

6th Round: Cory James LB (194 Colorado St.)

At 6’ 225 lb. James has been a consistent 4 year starter for the Rams.   They moved him to MLB in his senior year but he is too small for that position in the NFL. He was also used as an edge rusher on passing downs and showed speed and athleticism. Some experts have really trashed this pick and I don’t know why. A project who should do well in special teams and will be a good backup.

GRADE B

7th Round Vadal Alexander T/G (234 LSU)

My SEC friends are asking how in the heck did this guy make it to the 7th round. Most had him going 3-4 round and this is a great pick. Alexander came to LSU around 370 and even at 6’ 5” he looked too bulky. He’s lost 30 pounds as a 4 year starter and was all SEC last year. He played guard and then later switched to tackle in college. He is a masher in the run game with crazy strength. He lacks athleticism and good foot speed which is why teams dropped him so low. He has inconsistent mechanics and needs work but this guy should be a solid backup and even get a few snaps here and there in time. Huge potential. This is the type of pick that winning teams make. Huge upside. He’ll be projected as a guard in the pro’s for his lack of foot speed but he has the potential to really help this team as a backup. I am shocked he lasted so long.

GRADE A-

There you have it; it seems that there is still a need for an MLB but remember that many things can still happen in the off season, pre season and even salary cap cuts before the season starts. Overall I really like this draft. Pick for today and for the future.

OVERALL GRADE:   B+

“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.