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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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Oakland Raiders Preview for 2014-15 NFL Season

BlackHoleFans

Oakland Raiders 2014-15 Season Preview

Last years prediction: 4-12

Last years record: 4-12

Overview:

Last year saw the last of the salary cap purging by GM Reggie McKenzie.  The mess that was created from years of overspending for average talent had ended.  What was left was a team with a lot of heart but little depth or talent.  Even playing the 3rd easiest schedule in the NFL, the Raiders could only get 4 wins.

There is hope in Oakland though with a solid draft.  Derek Carr has played well and shows a lot of potential and I love guard Gabe Jackson.  He will be a solid guard for years to come.  I was one of the very few that still isn’t sold on Khalil Mack.  So many predicting greatness for him never saw him play.  So far in pre season his reviews are mixed.  I’m hopeful that he evolves into the special player the Raiders need.

Unfortunately just like in the last 10 years, I’ve been pretty right on about the Raiders.  I’ve predicted their seasons within 1 game each year.  I’ve also been right on a lot about their draft picks including Jamarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and all of the fast DB’s that can’t guard anyone.  (DJ Hayden will soon add to that mix.)  I’m still in shock over not drafting Star Lotulelei. 

Quarterback

There are too few great QB’s anymore in the NFL.  Even with the ridiculous new rules the last 3 years that make breathing next to a WR a penalty, the quarterback play in the NFL is at times just bad.  I don’t blame Reggie McKenzie for the Flynn and Schaub experiments; he took chances and they just didn’t work out; but Matt Schaub in my mind isn’t a starter anymore.  He’s never had a great arm but he’s now lost arm strength.  Watching him throw an out pattern is as nerve wracking as parents watching their kid walk for the first time.

I like Derek Carr.  He’s got a good arm and is accurate on the run.  Like his brother David, he sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and can lack accuracy from there at times.  He has to learn how to handle a rush better.  I think the Raiders made a solid pick.  Another coachable player with a good attitude.  Look for Carr to start very soon if not immediately.  Matt McGloin is a solid NFL backup with a lot of heart.

Grade:  C+ 

Carr will start sooner than later and with any rookie QB there will be growing pains.  He’ll look great at times and really bad at others.  The Raiders have a brutal schedule so look for the manic ups and downs on social media from Raider fans this year.

 

Running back

Maurice Jones-Drew was a great signing.  Many experts said he was done and he took it very personally.  He’s lost a lot of weight and is in the best shape of his life.  Look for a really good year from MJD.  Darren McFadden is a really good running back when healthy, and limiting his touches will help keep him healthy.

Last year the Raiders just couldn’t throw downfield and it hurt the running game.  Teams would almost dare the Raiders to pass and the running backs could find rushing yards hard to find.  Latavius Murray is finally healthy and is a solid backup that will have his moments.  Marcel Reese is only 28 and is a stud at full back and needs to be utilized more in the offense.

        Grade:  B+ 

Jones-Drew and McFadden are a solid 1-2 punch with Murray adding to the mix.  I still want to see more Marcel Reese.

 

Wide receiver

The Raiders have some nice WR this year, but the problem is they really don’t have a #1 WR.  If your QB is Tom Brady you can get away with that.  The Raiders don’t have Tom Brady.  James Jones was signed from Green Bay and he’s a solid player.  Rod Streater is a nice number 3 option but he still will drop an easy pass or two.  Denarius Moore is a good #3.  Look for Andre Holmes and Brice Butler to have their moments.  Greg Little is an enigma and looks like a rookie playing in a hall of fame WR body.  He may be the odd man out.

        Grade:  C +  

The Raiders just don’t have that #1 talent or big deep threat that they need.  Next year they have to get one.

 

Tight end

The Raiders need more production from their tight ends.  Mychal Rivera was a pleasant surprise but getting only 38 catches out of your best tight end isn’t enough.  David Ausberry will back him up.

          Grade:  C – 

Rivera would be a nice safety valve for when the Raiders QB needs a clutch catch.  Greg Olson needs to utilize the tight end more in his offense.

 

Offensive line

The offensive line just got better with the addition of rookie Gabe Jackson.  He’s as solid a player as you get and he should be a staple at Guard.  Menelik Watson has struggled at times and he will be a backup with Khalif Barnes taking over for him at tackle.  The Raiders seem to do well in the running game but they have a lot of problems protecting the quarterback.

        Grade:  C+

The Raiders offensive line has to step up if Carr is going to be effective.  I’m sure they will roll out Carr at times to protect him and give him time. 

 

Defensive line

The Raiders defensive line was abysmal at times last year.  Teams found out if you double team Lamarr Houston, the Raiders really didn’t have much after that.  To make problems worse, instead of drafting DT Star Lotulelei who fell into their lap, they draft DJ Hayden. Another DB with a great 40 time who played on a team in a bad conference with a bad defense that once gave up 70 points.  Star helped transform Carolina’s defense and they now are an elite defensive team. 

Justin Tuck looks to still have gas in the tank and I look for him to have a good year.  Lamarr Woodley comes from the Steelers and his best football may be behind him but the Raiders are hoping a change of scenery is what he needed.  Pat Sims and Antonio Smith have got to step up their games.  Khalil Mack will also play at end sometimes.

        Grade:  C+

I said it then, not drafting Lotulelei was a HUGE mistake.  With Tuck and Woodley, the hopes are that they will now have a consistent outside pass rush.

 

Linebacker

This group has to live up to their potential.  Sio Moore is starting to come into his own.  Nick Roach has had a horrible pre season; especially in the Green Bay game; so hopefully he’ll be back in form for the regular season.  Khalil Mack struggled mightily in his first two games but he had a nice game against Green Bay.  He still has more of a ways to go than the Raiders would like to admit.  I like the depth at LB as well.  Hopefully this will be a position of strength for the Raiders.

 

Grade:  B-

I really like the potential of this group but as the great Woody Hayes said, potential means you ain’t no damn good yet.  For now they are the strength of the defense but their time is now.  The defensive front 7 makes or breaks your defense.

 

Secondary

The secondary struggled last year and has really struggled in pre season.  For that matter the Raiders starting defense has really struggled.  Starting offenses have found the going good against the Raiders starters.  Charles Woodsen has come out a couple of times saying that they have to get better.  The Raiders could do worse than Woodsen and Tyvon Branch at safety but the cornerback position looks wide open.  DJ Hayden can’t stay healthy and even when he is he was burned a lot last year and looked overwhelmed.  He also was not very good against the run.  Carlos Rogers was let go by the 49ers who felt his best football was behind him.  The Raiders pass rush better be in great form this year.

 

        Grade:  C-

There are more questions than answers for the Raiders secondary.  This group needs a lot of work and there isn’t much depth as well.

 

Special teams:

Sebastian Janikowski will be solid at kicker, and Marquette King shined as a punter last year. The Return game will be upgraded with Denarius Moore or TJ Carrie looking to return punts, and Latavius Murray and Kory Sheets being looked at for kick returns.

        Grade:  B

The Raiders should have a solid group on special teams.

 

Coaching Staff:

Dennis Allen needs results now.  A lack of talent has hurt him but many of the Raiders issues that have plagued them have not changed.  What bothers me about Allen though is that EVERY time he’s asked a question his answer is,” I’m not worried”.  When a man says I’m not worried so many times, that means one thing; he’s worried!  I just don’t see how Allen is back next year.  The Raiders still have issues with dumb penalties as well.  He just doesn’t look like he is in control out there at times.  It remains to be seen if Greg Olson is the answer at OC but Jason Tarver at defensive coordinator seems to be on the right track.  The Raiders lack of talent showed up more as the season wore on though.  Bob Saunders did a good job with the LB’s as linebacker coach.

        Grade:  C

I’m not sold on Greg Olson or Dennis Allen and the more time goes by I just don’t think Dennis Allen is the answer.  Dreams sometimes do come true and if the 49ers don’t win the Superbowl and Jim Harbaugh moves on, he sure would look good in a silver and black shirt.

 

Prediction:

The Raiders are now 53-123 in their last 176 games.  That is the worst stretch of football in the history of the sport; and that includes the decades before the NFL.  Benjamin Harrison was president when pro football started so that’s a long time.  As one Raider fan said on a local sports talk show, the time for positive energy and rah rah’s are over.  It’s time to win on the field.

In reality though there are few fan bases in sports that are as much fun and who are as passionate as Raider fans.  There is definitely a split in the fan base though.  Old school fans remember a magical time when the Raiders were the most winning team in SPORTS; not just the NFL.  Their standards are high and their patience is thin. In a 4 year stretch during the glory days, the Raiders were 47-9! 

When a team loses for so long though, a losing atmosphere comes and people grasp for straws to see anything positive.  No one likes constant negativity but some only want to hear the positive and bristle at any negative talk thinking that they are a better fan than others for doing so.  It reminds me of people that are vegans constantly telling everyone they are vegan acting like they are better than other eaters.  The problem is that isn’t reality, and people like that magnify the negative they hear.

I can’t write as a fan; I write as a writer and I have to tell the truth, good or bad.  Jack Nicholson said in the movie a Few Good Men, “you cant handle the truth”.  Unfortunately some can’t.  Even with so much losing, the Raiders have made some good moves in the right direction though.  Life in the NFL isn’t all gumdrops and puppy dogs.  It’s about winning.

Reggie McKenzie had an impossible job, and I like what he’s done with it.  He’s made some mistakes along the way but he seems like a good fit.  McKenzie is trying to get the standards back to a high level and bring about responsibility to this losing franchise.  The salary cap killed the Raiders so there was much work to do and he got it done.  If the Raiders had last years schedule, I could see a .500 season.  Unfortunately they have the #3 hardest schedule and that is too much to overcome.

I see the Raiders winning 6-7 games this year.  I see Derek Carr being the starter and even through growing pains, he gives hope for the future of the Raiders.  I don’t see Dennis Allen back after this year but I’m hopeful that Reggie McKenzie lasts.  There will be some good days in Oakland this year.  The Raiders are a year away from realistically talking playoffs.  They still need a #1 WR and a nip and tuck here and there on defense and offense before they get to the next level.

 

Predicted Record:

Last years’ prediction 4-12; actual record 4-12

2013-14 prediction: 6-10

There will be better days ahead for the Raiders.  They still are looking for a stadium, and aren’t in a hurry to pay for it themselves, so that will continue to be a mess.  Hopefully by next year, on and off the field the Raiders will get stability and bring back a winner to the great fans of the Raiders.