With the announcement of Oakland Raiders star pass rusher Khalil Mack’s hold out, some began to worry if there was a possibility the Raiders may eventually lose Mack after this season. I love social media and it already has many comments on the subject. Some are tweeting Mack is done with the Raiders and others are saying he won’t be there week 1. As we always do, let’s be realistic about this situation.
I said after the Super Bowl that if I was Khalil Mack, I would not play another play without a long term deal. If Mack plays the last year of his contract and gets hurt, he will lose money, and maybe a lot of it.
Some said that they want Mack to just show up and play because he is making a good salary now but that would be ridiculous. At 27 years old, this will be Mack’s biggest contract signing of his career, so he needs to cash in on it big time.
Last year the Rams all world DT Aaron Donald held out until the day before the season started wanting a new contract. Rams fans/writers were losing their minds saying he ruined his season and he was done in Los Angeles. After a few weeks Donald was back to form terrorizing offenses while being double teamed most of the year. I do agree that it remains to be seen if the Rams burned a bridge with him but the hopes there is that they can work out a long term deal.
Le’Veon Bell didn’t show up for Pittsburgh until September 1st and after a sluggish start, began to dominate in week 4 becoming maybe the best all around RB in the NFL. After the season ended, ridiculous rumors started popping up that the Raiders were in the lead to get Bell. I reminded a national writer and several local writers that this was nonsense. For a year Pittsburgh said that they were going to franchise Bell and that was that. Well, that is exactly what happened.
You have to think these things through and not just throw things on the wall to get a rise out of people. Thus when you hear rumors, read the people you trust and do your own homework and see that most rumors are nothing to worry about.
The Reggie McKenzie Factor:
Just like with Derek Carr, Reggie McKenzie isn’t the type to want to wait until the last second to sign a player. They want to sign Mack quickly before his final year begins. Both sides are reasonable, want to have a relationship, and feel good about getting it done. Remember that Derek Carr signed on June 22nd of last year so there is no need to panic. I would not overreact to all of the nasty nipping and fighting that may occur during these types of negotiations. When a deal is done, most everything is forgiven no matter how nasty the negotiations.
Last year in a nice interview with NBC Bay Area, Mack stated that he knows this is a business. He also said he wanted to be a Raider for life and that it’s a no-brainer for him to stay with Oakland for the rest of his career. Mack has shown himself to be honest and level headed. Nothing has changed and I see Mack signing something long term most likely sooner than later.
Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are playing a cat and mouse game to see who signs first, so the other player can get an idea of what to ask for. As for head coach Jon Gruden, he just wants him on the field again. Even in a couple of press conferences this week, Gruden said that what the Raiders do in contracts is private, but he said they would like to have Mack back signed as quickly as possible and he’s hopeful they can reach an agreement. He also commented that part of coming back as a coach was to coach for Mack.
Should Raider fans be worried right now? No. If I was Mack I’d hold out until the season started if needed, and then I’d tell the Raiders the time to talk ended and I’m opting out for free agency at the end of the season. Of course during the season I’d still be negotiating and trying to sign a deal.
I personally think Mack will sign in late June or even July. I don’t think it could play out until August but who knows. Either way I’d be shocked and stunned if he kept holding out. It’s the same thing I told fans back when Derek Carr signed and people got worried. If Khalil doesn’t have a contract after the season starts then I’d worry, but even then I wouldn’t lose my mind.
The Raiders are not going to be pushovers and just cave in to his demands but as long as he’s not hurt, Mack is holding all of the aces. With him there are still some big questions on defense for the Raiders but without him there are HUGE issues. The Raiders are not going to let him go because they need him big time. This is not Jr. High School loyalty folks, this is the NFL and it’s business. In the end I see Mack playing for the Raiders for a long, long time and I’d worry more about other things in life like what you are having for dinner and who will win the World Cup.
The NFL draft has always been fascinating to me. It’s an amazing thing to see how teams choose who they want to create the foundation of their team. It’s not a coincidence though that with the greatness of the Raiders of the 1960’s into early 1980’s, most of their drafts were excellent getting at least 2 good starters in many drafts. Director of Player Personnel Ron Wolf was a key element of these drafts and he is now in the HOF. As John Madden said, “Al listened to only one person and that was Ron Wolf”.
To establish a great team you have to have excellent drafts. Back in the day, a guy that could scout and pick out a good player was worth their weight in gold. A recent ESPN study showed just how bad the NFL teams of today draft, especially missing on so many QB’s that it’s ruined some franchises for years. In the olden days they relied on game films and occasional interviews with the players and their coaches. Now they over analyze and see things that aren’t there and refuse to see things that are. Paralysis by analysis. If you look at something long enough you begin to see flaws.
For now though, and look to the draft picks that did work out well often leading to wins and championships.
#5: 1974 Draft:
1st Henry Lawrence T
2nd Dave Casper TE
3rd Mark Van Eeghen
4th Morris Bradshaw
Henry Lawrence was a pillar in the OL for 13 years for the Raiders with much of it being as a starter. He has 3 Super Bowl rings and in the last 2 Raider titles he was a starting tackle. Dave Casper is a HOF player and was one of the best all around tight ends in history. With his tough and physical blocking and his amazing hands; Casper, Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, and Ken Stabler made one of the greatest passing combinations of all time.
Mark Van Eeghen took over for Marv Hubbard and could do it all. He wasn’t fast, but he was amazing at following his blockers and soon became one of the best all around RB’s in the NFL. A great pass catcher, Mark also was a key pass protector for his ability to pick up blitzing LB’s. Even though he ran for over 1,000 yards in the 1976 season, Oakland’s game plan was for Mark to be the lead blocker for most of the game and the speedy Clarence Davis (who ran for 516 yards the same year) would get the bulk of the carries against an older Minnesota Vikings team. The plan worked to perfection as Mark had an amazing game blocking and Davis ran 16 times for 137 yards. Van Eeghen ran for 73 yards and the Raiders rushed for 266 yards which is still the 3rd highest Super Bowl rushing game in history. You wonder if players of today would sacrifice like that.
In the 4th Round the Raiders got WR Morris Bradshaw who became a key member of their special teams unit for 8 years. He also was a part time starter with his best year being 1978 when he caught 40 passes for 552 yards.
#4: 1972 Draft:
1st Mike Siani WR
2nd John Vella OL
4th Cliff Branch WR
4th Dave Dalby OL
7th Alonzo “Skip” Thomas DB
To be honest you could interchange the #4 and #3 drafts and still have winners. What a problem to have. Mike Siani was a poor man’s Fred Biletnikoff and while he never lived up to his #1 status, he was a vital contributor in the Raiders passing game with many key pass catches in important games. John Vella and Dave Dalby were part of what many consider the greatest offensive line of all time. Their size and toughness wore opponents down. Dr. Death Skip Thomas was a key member of the famous “Soul Patrol” that many feel is the greatest defensive backfield in NFL history.
Cliff Branch will eventually get into the Hall of Fame but he remains one of the greatest deep threats the NFL has ever seen. During a talk show Raiders great Ken Stabler said, “I had a great offensive line, Casper, Biletnikoff who caught anything and Cliff Branch who could outrun half of the cars in the parking lot”. This amazing draft class is just another reason why the Raiders were so dominating.
#3: 1977 Draft:
2nd Mike Davis
4th Mickey Marvin
5th Lester Hayes
5th Jeff Barnes
8th Terry Robiskie
12th Rod Martin
Maybe this draft didn’t have the iconic talent of other drafts, but it definitely filled a lot of holes with excellent players. Mike Davis was a key member at safety and his interception against the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs helped propel the Raiders to eventually win a Super Bowl. Mickey Marvin was an excellent OL for years. Lester Hayes started out slow, but eventually became one of the best cover corners in the game and should be in the HOF. Jeff Barnes and Rod Martin were excellent LB’s that helped the Raiders shore up their defense after the Villapiano, Willie Hall and Monte Johnson era. Terry Robiskie was a great special teams player and backup RB.
#2: 1971 Draft:
1st Jack Tatum DB
2nd Phil Villapiano LB
4th Clarence Davis
5th Bob Moore
12th Horace Jones
“They changed the rules because of Tatum and Atkinson”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton on San Francisco’s KNBR radio. “The 5 yard chuck rule was created because of them and the other Raiders DB’s because the WR’s literally could not get off of the line against them. They were so physically imposing and strong.”
Jack Tatum hit harder than any DB in history and should no doubt be in the HOF. Phil Villapiano said, “Tatum’s shots just sounded different. His hits sounded like a car wreck”. George Atkinson added, “I once saw Jack hit Denver’s Riley Odoms so hard that I thought he killed him. It sounded like a car wreck”. He was a star at Ohio St. where Woody Hayes loved his hard hitting style and instinct to be where he needed to be, and he brought that to the Oakland Raiders. Jack’s timing was unmatched. If it wasn’t for the Darryl Stingley hit, Tatum would already be in the HOF. RIP to both of them.
A huge get was Phil Villapiano. Supposedly an undersized LB out of Bowling Green, most teams had him as being too small. Almost everyone had him as a possible 3rd round pick, but most had him going into the 4th round. The Raiders; who were the only team that would not share information with other teams; picked him in the second round. They knew that Phil was really 225 and not the 210 that everyone else said he was. Villapiano became a key element shoring up their back 7 on defense. He could tackle and stop the run, and with his lateral speed and timing he was a great pass defender. There are many that feel Phil should be in the HOF as well. His personality and fun spirit is classic Raider. The below video shows Phil Villapiano leading the Raiders on and off the field.
Clarence Davis was a fast and clutch player. His catch in the famous “Sea of Hands” game and his amazing performances in post season including his 137 yards rushing in the Super Bowl win against Minnesota are immortalized. Bob Moore was a solid NFL back up tight end and Horace Jones was an important defensive starter for four of the 5 years he played for the Raiders.
#1: 1968 Draft:
2nd Ken Stabler QB
3rd Art Shell T
4th Charlie Smith RB
7th George Atkinson DB
11th Marv Hubbard
Now finally the greatest draft in Oakland Raiders history, the 1968 draft. If you can draft 2 quality starters in your draft, usually your draft is considered pretty good. Draft 5 key starters and 2 Hall of Famer’s and I’d say your draft was awesome.
In 1967 the Raiders drafted HOF guard Gene Upshaw who would help anchor an amazing offensive line. In 1968, they chose other big pieces that would lay a foundation for their success in the 1970’s.
This draft was the key to the Raiders success in the 60’s and 70’s and this draft topped them all. They now had one of the greatest QB’s in history in Ken Stabler, and another HOF player on the OL in Art Shell. With Charlie Smith and Marv Hubbard they had a set of starting RB’s that could run and catch the ball. All 4 players were big parts of the success of the Raiders in the 1970’s and late 1960’s.
Then oh by the way add 7th round pick George Atkinson who was considered too small to be a full time safety. What teams didn’t get is that Atkinson was as tough as nails, hit like a ton of bricks, had a bad attitude on the field and was as fast as lightning. Early in his career he was a great kick returner on both punts and kickoffs and held records for a number of years in the return game. He was also the voice of the famous “Soul Patrol” defensive backfield.
So there you have it. These are the 5 greatest draft classes in Raiders history. The hope of all fans is that their favorite teams draft choices will reach their full potential and step up to be great players. In the following years we will find out how the draft choices of the new millennium rank. History shows us that if you consistently draft poorly, you will eventually erode your foundation and have to start over. If you excel in the draft, you create a winning team for years to come. When the Raiders had great drafts, they succeeded and were the winningest franchise in U.S. sports. When they didn’t, they failed and struggled breaking records for futility. Here’s to a future of great draft picks and great success to this amazing franchise.
The NFL has done a masterful job in getting people addicted to the NFL draft. Some even pay “experts” to tell them who will be drafting who. The funny thing is if an expert can get 6-8 picks in the first round right, then that is really good. About 5 years ago KNBR pointed out after the draft how Mel Kiper Jr.; the present draft guru; got ONE pick right in the first round. What this tells us is that your guess is as good as theirs.
I first got into the draft in the 1980’s. To the ire of my mom, my dad and I would watch hours of the coverage. She would vacuum under our feet and sigh every once in a while letting us know that Dr. Z’s thoughts on an offensive linemen was not vital to mankind’s existence. “How in the world can you watch hours of grown men talking about who to choose to go on a stupid football team?” Eventually my dad would say,”your mother is mad, let’s get some stuff done”.
My friends and I picked up the torch. In 2000 we started having a draft party. We would take the day off work to the chagrin of our female partners, and drink adult beverages, eat food, and draft for each of our favorite teams. We vowed to keep our draft picks and the following year (and years) we would rip on each other or brag about each of our picks. As a Raider fan, what really was sad is that a bloke like me drafted 100 times better than the Raiders did for almost 2 decades.
ESPN did a great article saying what I’ve been saying for years; NFL teams do not draft very well; especially at Quarterback. If you look at the NFL draft history, no team stands out as a great drafting team and most have had a lot more misses than they would like to admit.
Why The NFL Struggles With the NFL Draft:
It’s really not that hard. I can’t remember who said it, but during one of the drafts, he told a great story. “If you have a beautiful woman standing in front of you, you are amazed at her perfection. If you look at her day after day then all of a sudden she’s a little too fat in some areas and she’s not as pretty as you thought. If you look hard at something long enough, you will find flaws and imperfections”.
The NFL combines is that over analyzing factor. I never watch or care about it. If a team denies 3 to 4 years of game film because a guy impresses them while wearing gym shorts in an air conditioned arena, then you deserve what you get. I remember half a dozen DB’s (and even a WR) picked by the Raiders alone purely because they had the fastest 40 times at the combines but they ended up being huge busts. Darrius Heyward-Bey was never really that good at Maryland and couldn’t carry Michael Crabtree’s jock but his 40 time wowed Al Davis and the rest is history. Still remember all of the Raider fans telling me to give him time. I hope they still aren’t waiting.
The NFL has also become a cookie cutter league. They have a certain size that they love in players. For QB’s if you are 6’ 3” and over with a big arm, you are anointed a great prospect. I watched Wyoming QB Josh Allen in a lot of games and to be honest I never saw him as a great QB or even a first rounder.
Josh Allen has bust written all over him but he’s big and has a rocket arm. He’s never been in the top 50 in QB rating and against the best competition he’s faced, he had his worst games. In contrast players like Baker Mayfield and Georgia LB’s Roquan Smith’s best games were against their best competition.
In true NFL manner, someone also has brought up tweets that Allen made when he was 15 and 16 trying to stir it up. Funny how they are brought into the news right before the draft, but no one said this wasn’t a dirty business.
To me the NFL is as ridiculous as it gets with some of their research. The dumb questions teams and scouts ask at the NFL combines are of legend. This year one possible draft pick was asked if he was gay and another was asked what type of women he liked. Other dumb questions that players have admitted they were asked will astound you. Do you wear boxers or briefs; is your mom pretty; what’s the most popular drug at your school; if you had to kill someone, would you use a knife or a gun?; when did you lose your virginity; what team do you pick in Madden and why?; if I give you a paper clip, what things would you do with it? And these are the “experts” that some fans like to defend when people question teams choices?
Fans v.s. Teams:
Personally I’ve had some stud drafts over the years. Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson have been great picks for me but I’m honest. I also wanted Matt Leinart so I’ve had my train wrecks too. While the Raiders picked Gareon Conley last year I chose Reuben Foster. I like my chances on that one too.
This years draft will be classic because there are so many QB’s in it which means there will be busts. For me I’m not in love with any of the QB prospects. Darnold is a turnover machine who takes too many chances; Rosen has to have a lot of time because he struggles against a rush; and Lamar Jackson out of Louisville looks like an athlete playing QB a lot like Terrelle Pryor and even former Texas Longhorn QB Vince Young.
The Raiders will choose……..
Oakland will pick in the #10 spot after losing the coin flip to San Francisco. What stinks is that the 49ers have many of the needs that Oakland does. San Francisco would love to have another linebacker to go with Reuben Foster and their young and talented DL but they also have huge holes in the secondary just like the Raiders.
As I’ve said before, the rule changes have made passing the ball so much easier and it’s limited the effectiveness of defensive backs. You have to have a pass rush. The Patriots lead the NFL in post season sacks and who would think Tom Brady would be stopped on his last 2 drives in the Super Bowl? The Eagles pass rush stopped those drives. Offense puts butts in the seats but defense wins championships. The Raiders pass rush was poor again last year and that is with Khalil Mack in the fold. They desperately need a DT that can push the pocket back to opening up sack opportunities. Below are the players that they are almost certain to have on their draft board.
Roquan Smith, LB Georgia
I don’t think he will last. If he drops down to the 49ers it’s hard to think them passing up on him. Smith can play every down and can start immediately and he and Foster would be some tandem in the 49er recent tradition of linebackers. He can play every down and he’s legit.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Alabama
I’m into pass rush and having a stud defensive front 7 but Minkah is a stud. Some teams say he doesn’t have the ideal size but I like him a lot. If the Raiders do get him then it says they aren’t exactly thrilled with #2 draft pick safety Obi Melifonwu which means another wasted pick. Obi is an amazing athlete but he has little instinct especially in the passing game. I did not like the pick last year. Karl Joseph also struggles at times in pass coverage. Fitzpatrick is instinctive and can tackle. The Raiders have missed a lot on draft picks, and you can’t keep redrafting and resigning positions due to mistakes and win.
Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame
McGlinchey is the sexy pick of late for draft “guru’s”. He is a polished player who is 6’ 8” and 310 pounds. Most feel that he needs to hit the weight room a bit but overall he is a great talent who can start right away. They need defense so I’m not so sure about this pick. The Raiders defense isn’t that good and they have to upgrade the talent.
Vita Vea, DT Washington
I love this pick. He can move the pocket and he’s as strong as it gets. He’s a beast in the middle and he can push the pocket back and be a huge problem for offenses to block. Problem is, it shows again wasted picks with Jihad Ward who is a probable bust, and Eddie Vanderdoes who didn’t supply a pass rush up the middle just like he didn’t at UCLA. I personally think because of the picks the past 2 years, Vita might be passed over if he drops this far but it would be a mistake.
Derwin James, S Florida St.
He’s got classic Raider pick written all over him and I don’t like it. He’s big at 6’ 3” 215 lb., and he has good speed. He’s more of a safety than a CB. I’m not thrilled with this pick but with the Raiders revolving door of DB busts draft picks and signings they’ve had over the recent years, I still have nightmares of bad first round DB draft choices dancing in my head. Don’t be surprised if this is their guy.
Barring a trade, these are probably the draft picks the Raiders will choose from. A new rumor yesterday said the Raiders may draft up for stud DE Bradley Chubb out of N.C. State, but wake me up if that happens. (I’m still waiting for the LeVeon Bell to the Raiders and Odell Beckham Jr. to the Patriots rumors to come true). The Raiders have had many chances to sign a stud pass rusher but they didn’t spend the money and I find it hard for them to move up to do this. Getting Chubb would immediately improve their defense but me winning the lottery would improve my goals of buying cars for everyone.
So there you have it. Pour yourself an adult beverage and enjoy the draft. But remember, it’s easy to be right after the fact and complain about others on social media, than it is to be accountable for your picks. If you have the guts though, start drafting for your favorite team and see how you do versus the experts like we’ve been doing for 19 years. It’s a lot easier being a critic than a GM.
Tomorrow I will be writing about the solutions the Raiders need to be successful this year. But today I’m doing something much different.
I pride myself on being objective but today I’m writing as a fan. Yesterday I read a lot of social media after the Raiders 30-17 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens. I’ll have to agree with many Raider fans; never have I seen so much anger and nastiness from Raider fans towards the team, players and other fans in all of my life. The last 10 days there has been a heaviness on so many people. With the Las Vegas shooting and the overall dysfunction of our country in general, we are a depressed mess.
Athletes Acting Badly:
I see the anger and nastiness on Twitter and it’s scary that people like this are living among us. Why do athletes listen so much? We see it almost every day on social media. So many 20 and 30 something athletes losing their minds on social media over fans or media who say negative things about them. The NBA is the worst. You see players constantly slap fighting with each other verbally like little spoiled Jr. High School girls over petty squabbles or imaginary slights.
The Golden State Warriors Kevin Durrant; who many around the team say is a tad eccentric; was hurt by such negativity and was even caught with a fake Twitter account that he used to attack fans and to defend himself. He later apologized. A grown friggin man worried about what mostly young fans said behind a computer screen. That’s some kind of insecurity.
That pales in comparison to what is going on with others. We now have a video going viral of a long time NFL offensive line coach snorting a “white substance” and sending the video to a female stripper. How many players like Adrian Peterson are exposed with bad lifestyles when so many look up to them. Steve McNair; one of the most respected players in the last 25 years and the 1994 recipient of the Walter Payton Award; was murdered by his 20 y/o mistress. Why? Because he was seeing another mistress.
(Below; Miami Dolphins Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster snorting a white substance)
Some players in the NFL have some pretty insane lifestyles; I get that; but it’s out of hand how inappropriate they and society have become.
Raiders Fans & Players Behaving Badly:
Donald Penn was the darling of Raider fans last year. The year before on social media he was trashed for being old and that he wasn’t worth the money. He gave up only one sack to Raiders QB Derek Carr all year but unfortunately that sack resulted in Carr breaking his ankle. It’s all been downhill after that.
Penn held out but eventually signed for a 21 million dollar contract, and he’s struggled at times this year. Fan’s have made him know how upset they are about it on social media and Penn called out one of the fans. The fan showed up after the game and it got ugly.
Penn has had several young male Raider fans trash him online and he’s no stranger to battling with them. During the confrontation several Raider fans started taunting him calling out 21 million, and other fun loving things. Internet trolls trying to make a name for themselves on social media acting inappropriately; wow there’s a shocker. Players feeding into the negativity due to frustration and anger at a 2-3 start with the hardest part of there schedule still in their future has fueled the fire.
There was also a video that I’m not going to post of Raider fans urinating in the stands. Men are pathetic at times.
What the Hell Has Happened:
Our society is a train wreck of classlessness and selfish behavior. The arrogance is through the roof. People hurt others and don’t think twice about it. Anger and violence is acceptable to many and it’s seen in NFL fans behavior time and time again.
The anger of the team going to Las Vegas and the poor play has created a negativity that I’ve never seen before. Even as a kid when the Raiders were leaving to Los Angeles, we didn’t want to hurt the players and people for the most part weren’t angry; they were just very sad they were leaving.
The day Al Davis moved to Los Angeles is the day the magic of the Raiders died. They have never and they will never be the same. The innocence of that time is gone. The Raiders were the winningest TEAM in U.S. sports for 25 years (and it wasn’t close) and would soon lose their mojo in Southern California. When they left, most in LA didn’t bat an eye. Even the LA Times said good riddance.
The team has never been the same but neither have the fans. The Raiders have a nice niche of younger fans in Southern California but as Raider great Tim Brown said on 95.7 The Game, “not enough to support an NFL Team unless everything is going great”. In LA the violence of fans during a tumultuous time in society fueled the crime and anger at Raiders games, and it’s been continued to some in a new generation. In the first 3 months of 2016, 3 of my female Raider followers had been MURDERED by their partners. All 3 were from Southern California and all 3 of the males had past gang involvement and were vocal Raider fans. Obviously not all So Cal fans are bad or violent, but this was greatly disturbing.
How to Not Get Caught Up In It:
I’m not Pollyanna. Raider fans were always pretty vulgar and aggressive, but they were never like this. And Oakland never was the cesspool of violence that the media portrayed they were.
(Below: link to my article on Raiders v.s. 49ers Fan violence)
In reality some people have forgotten what it is to be a Raider fan and they are too caught up in the drama or the attention of it. It’s about loyalty and family. The Raider tradition is about winning and having high standards without trolling on the internet and attacking players verbally. And for God’s sakes it’s not about violence and not being able to control your anger like an 8 year old bully. Appreciate the tradition and the amazing success the team has had in the past and grow from that tradition to generation to generation. Life is tough but Raider fans always came through for each other.
It’s not about acting like angry pigs. It’s not about classlessness and disrespecting the players and those around you. It’s ok to say something about a players play if they are failing, but to attack them like an anger management flunky shows a new kind of low.
NO ONE; has told the truth about how bad the Raiders have been over the years like I have. So many trashed me online for being negative but I wasn’t negative. I was honest and right almost every time. But I also see improvement in this team with still more work in the front office and on the field to do. I’ve been honest. Many have been blind to my honesty and just believe what they want to believe. Facts > biased opinion. Being critical is one thing though; being abusive, vulgar and so angry is just weird.
What’s worse, is that many of the people that were so angry yesterday, were the same ones attacking fans and writers who questioned just how good the Raiders were at the beginning of the year. They change like the wind. They used to call others haters and now they hate. Often wrong, never in doubt. Some seem to always be attacking someone.
Yesterday was the 6th Anniversary of Al Davis passing. One of the 5 greatest and most important figures in modern football. And in all of my years of knowing about this amazing team and dynasty, I’ve never seen so many bad displays from fans.
I was too young to remember a lot of what happened in the Raiders early years, but I’m going to watch a bunch of Raiders videos from the Ken Stabler era tonight. So many things are messed up with fans behaviors that I just need normality. I need to see winning and I need to see loyalty. And I need to feel a team and a fan base acting as one with pure joy, win or lose. This has been an awful year for me personally and with all that is happening with the Raiders and the fans, I feel like crap and I don’t want to anymore.
Young fans always wonder why people love to talk about the glory days of the Raiders. It’s because it was life changing. It was special, fun and inclusive. No Racism; no violence; no anger in losing. It was a time of glory and family. Tomorrow I’ll talk about what is needed on this team and if they can salvage the dreams of this season. But for today, I’m celebrating the Raiders. I need this and I think others do too.
Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 1:
Tennessee Titans:16 (0-1)
Oakland Raiders: 26 (1-0)
The Raiders started the season well with a solid win against the Titans on the road.
The Raiders did a couple of small defensive changes in their approach to the Titans that seem to be lost in the media. Let’s face it, these types of changes aren’t very exciting or dramatic, but they are noteworthy in this opening win for the Raiders.
I’m still scratching my head how most sportsbooks had the Titans winning by 1-2 points. The lack of respect in the early part of the season for the Raiders is puzzling. Many have the Raiders going 10-6 or 9-7.
As far as Tennessee goes, I think they are an overrated team with an average to slightly above average QB. They are in the worst division in the NFL and they just don’t have the DB’s, WR’s, or the identity that winning teams have.
Derek Carr had a good game to start the season. He was sacked a couple of times and his timing was off a bit with Amari Cooper, but he was solid. In one play where the Titans forgot to cover Marshawn Lynch when he was put wide left, Carr over threw him by 5 yards and Marshawn did a flip to show his disappointment. They had first and goal on the Titans 2 yard line and they threw 3 straight incomplete passes to Amari Cooper. Both blamed each other for the 3 failed passes. Why have Lynch if you are going to do that? Even if the plays were called, Carr should have audibled at least once to run Lynch.
Solid outing by Derek who must be licking his chops looking at the Jets next week.
The Titans tried to stop the run and the Raiders gained 109 yards on 29 tough carries. When the Raiders needed to, they grinded out yards and iced the game purely on the ground. I think Oakland has the best set of RB’s in the NFL and they and the OL wore out the Tennessee defense.
There was no spectacular numbers, but this was a good, solid game for them. Their ability to pick up the blitz is so overlooked but they pass block better than any set of RB’s in the league.
Same stuff different day. They did give up a couple of sacks but overall another good game. They were dominant at times in the 4th quarter and wore down Tennessee.
A nice start for a group that is the key to the Raiders success this year.
Michael Crabtree looked in mid season form and was a man among boys at times. He’s as physical a WR as there is in the NFL. Cooper had a TD but he was out of synch with Carr catching only 5 of 13 targets. Their new tight end Jared Cook caught 5 passes for 56 yards with two catches being in heavy traffic.
The WR’s exploited the weak Titans secondary and at times they did what they wanted to.
Their numbers weren’t eye popping but they had a solid game. The DL did a pretty good job of controlling the run game (21 rushes for 95 yards) and they did get a sack even though the pass rush wasn’t consistently good. Mario Edwards Jr. had 3 tackles and a 0.5 sack but overall the DL played fairly well, but not great.
The Titans offense doesn’t scare anyone but overall this was a good start for a group that has struggled big time in the past.
Realizing the Titans were a basic run between the tackles offense, the Raiders pinched in their LB’s to stop the between the tackle runs and it worked. Tennessee did little to adjust and the LB’s had a solid game. Cory James was nursing a bad knee and was taken off the field once. They played Marquel Lee on running downs and brought in Tyrell Adams (7 tackles) on passing downs and that also helped this group. Not a bad day.
Tennessee was successful in their few outside the tackle runs and when Mariota kept the ball in the read option, but overall they did little to mix things up to adjust to the Raiders changes. The LB’s took advantage of that and played well and stopped the runs up the middle.
The Raiders other wrinkle was to play Joseph up 5-10 yards off the line of scrimmage near the LB’s. This helped with the between the tackle runs and Joseph ended up leading the team in tackles with 9. The Titans still haven’t figured out their WR issues, and the Raiders played very physical against them. Mariota threw for 256 yards but overall it wasn’t a bad showing by the DB’s. Covering the tight end is still an issue though. Delanie Walker had 7 catches for 76 yards and was missed twice by Mariota on longer passes or his numbers would have been even better. Joseph is still much better in the running game and is still learning.
A solid day with no major issues.
The Raiders two defensive wrinkles to try and take away the inside running game of the Titans worked and without much of an adjustment by Tennessee, they just kept the same philosophy all game. I liked that they seem to want to give Lynch 15-20 carries per game. Running him 25-35 times a game would be crazy. The three passes on 1st and 2 at the Titans goal line were silly. Run the ball to Lynch 3 times and move on. Carr should have audibled as well.
This was a solid game by the coaches against a lesser opponent. These are the games you have to win.
It’s pretty obvious that Sebastian Janikowski’s days are numbered in Oakland. This should be his last year. In walks Italian-born Giorgio Tavecchio who had never kicked in a regular season game. While quoting Aristotle pre and post game, all he did was go 4-4 for field goals including 2 kicks from 52 yards out. The Raiders really liked his leg in pre-season and if he can be consistent, they may have found their new kicker. Marquette King had a solid day, including having one punt downed at the 1 yard line. Coverage wasn’t needed to be a big factor.
Excellent day for the special teams unit.
The Titans are probably a 7-9 or 8-8 team in the worst division in football. This obviously isn’t an elite team but these are the games you have to win. Jack Del Rio finally gets this defense doesn’t cut it and they are going to have to do things differently this year. They put in 2 wrinkles to stop the inside running game of Tennessee’s and it worked. This is a nice win for the start of the season. Now the Raiders get a bye; I mean they play the Jet’s next week for the home opener.
Next Up; hosting the NY Jets:
If you are a hardcore sports fan, you know nothing is more entertaining than the NY media when one of their teams suck. Well the Jet’s suck. They are probably the worst team in the NFL. In fact some in the media say the slogan for this years Jet’s is “Suck for Sam”, pertaining to tanking the season so they could draft USC QB Sam Darnold.
Lachlan Edwards was named the team MVP for NY in week 1; he’s their punter. They have Josh McCown at QB and 31 year old Matt Forte at RB. Matt looks like age has caught up to him, but Bilal Powell has fallen out of favor. Their offense is really bad and their defense looks uninspired. The Buffalo Bills are also rebuilding but they still handled New York 21-12 in Orchard Park in week 1.
No win is for sure, but it’s hard to see the Raiders not wiping the floor with New York. Look for a big game from the RB’s and Carr and the defense could pile up some sacks in this one.
The second half of the Raiders season is brutal so they need to win the games they should. I’m still stunned that some people see the Raiders losing 7 games, because that isn’t happening with the offense they have. The Raiders will play the Jets at home and Washington on the road before a key game in Denver.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the signing of ex Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson, the Raiders filled another hole in their defense that needed to be addressed. In another cap friendly contract the Raiders get a solid run defender who is also fairly good against the pass. His high amount of interceptions is a good and bad thing; proves he can get interceptions but it also proves teams are not afraid to throw at him. He’s going to be 33 in September and that is probably the reason he didn’t get the money he wanted in free agency.
Someone asks me every week on Twitter why the Raiders don’t ever trade up. For the most part it’s because it’s not smart all the time.
Unless you need that one player to put you over the top, it’s not a good idea. Most teams that trade up get burned. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been fleecing teams for years. I still remember the 2013 trade when the Vikings thought they were a WR away from being good. They traded a #2, #3, #4, & a #7 for New England’s #1 pick. At the 29th spot they chose Cordarrelle Patterson. While he’s been a fine return guy, he is now 5th on the WR depth chart and caught 2 passes all of last year. Four picks for a 5th string WR.
The Bills; overestimating their talent; sent their #9 overall pick in the first round along with a #1 and a #4 in 2015 to Cleveland to pick #4 overall in the 2014 draft to get talented WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins is good but I didn’t get that trade because the Bills had holes in their offensive line, QB and a few more on the defensive end.
Ron Wolf was never a huge fan of trading the first round pick either at Oakland or Green Bay, so I find it hard to think McKenzie will do it. Many fans like to talk trade scenarios but NFL teams are huge creatures of habit and unless the Raiders have fallen in love with a player, I don’t see them trading up.
What Are Their Needs Now?
The main needs are at middle linebacker, a defensive back, and another DL. They probably will also look into a RB and WR in the later rounds.
Ezekiel Elliott will probably go to Philadelphia or the Giants. A Running Back would be helpful to the Raiders as well but it’s not as big a need as people think. As I said before, I’m not a fan of Raiders OC Bill Musgrave. Not giving Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale more carries is just ridiculous. The lack of imagination in using Roy Helu Jr. last year also hurt the Raiders. And to the writer that said Elliott was as good as Adrian Peterson in college? Elliot isn’t even close. Stop it.
Paralysis by Analysis:
I’ve been monitoring my draft picks for 16 years now. I want to be right so I take evaluating players seriously. Most just give brash comments and then move on to the next year but I want my followers to know they can trust my opinion. We all will be wrong at times but I want to have a history of quality picks and predictions mixed in with my Matt Leinart’s.
People wonder why so many teams make mistakes in the NFL draft. I think it’s because they over think it. Paralysis by Analysis; over analyzing. The more you look into something the more chance you will find fault in it. Now NFL teams are using an arrest formula to predict how many arrests a player will have. You can’t make this stuff up.
I think also NFL teams and experts are obsessed with athleticism over football talent. Darrius Heyward-Bey had no business being the Raiders top pick; in fact he was on my no draft list and to the dismay of Raider fans who applauded the pick, I destroyed the choice on draft day. DHB was picked purely because of his fast 40 time @ the NFL combines. He really wasn’t even that good at Maryland.
Look at the old videos on Youtube. I was watching the draft day video on Aaron Rodgers. Experts were justifying why he was falling in the draft. “He has bad hand placement; he has bad mechanics. Look how high he keeps his hands. He still has a chance to be a pretty good QB but Alex Smith by far is the best QB in the draft”.
From teams overreacting to Thurman Thomas’ knee, to Jerry Rice and Marcus Allen not being fast enough, the nitpicking gets to be a bit rough. I’m not saying the other stuff isn’t valuable but as John Madden said, watch the games, not drills with players in gym shorts. This is still football. Now let’s look at each position and the possible first round pick for the 2016 NFL draft.
This is going to be interesting. Many think that DL’s will fall in the draft because there are so many potential good ones. It wouldn’t be a surprise but my feeling is that only QB is more important than a DL so if there is one you like then you pick him. It will be fun to see.
I’m not a fan of this pick because in reality he had only 1 good year in college and his teammate; Shaq Lawson; was the one being double teamed most of the year which allowed him to be freed up. I like Lawson better. It wouldn’t be a tragedy to pick him but I think he’s overrated. I think Dodd is a borderline 1stround pick. Not a fan.
When I wrote on how Vernon Gholston would be a huge bust in the 2008 draft, Jets fans destroyed me. Some Raider fans wanted to draft him. In 3 years he ended up with ZERO sacks & never played again. I also was ripped apart on ESPN when someone shared the preview article I wrote with me saying how Jadeveon Clowney would also be a bust; 1500 thumbs down. This year I’m picking Nkemdiche as the poster child to avoid. His stats were like theirs.
In 3 years Nkemdiche only had 7 sacks. In his last 7 games last year he averaged 2 tackles a game. His best college year he had 3 sacks. For his career he averaged a little under 3 tackles a game. If that excites you then then that is cool but I pass on him big time. His football numbers don’t equal his athleticism.
His talent and work ethic are not questioned but his interviews are. He’s a good guy but some think he’s really not that passionate about football and with players retiring early, that is a big issue. This guy is a super hard worker. He’s big and has a great motor as they say. Nick Saban said he’s just learning how to pass rush and I think his push up the middle would be a great plus. He was double teamed a lot and was told to play a lot of 2 gap so in reality he was a key to clogging up the middle. As one scout said, he knows how to play and these guys are valuable.
I like Rankins as well. Like Robinson he’s raw as a pass rusher but scouts like him. He is physical and is a good tackler and he would help the Raiders.
Even with being double teamed often throughout the year, Lawson thrived. There were more than a few games where it was obvious he was the best player on the field. I think he’s a special talent that can’t be passed up. If Lawson and Rankins is there, I pick Lawson.
I think he’s the best cornerback in the draft. Great instinct, cover skills and recovery speed. He’s a film room junkie who works as hard as anyone in college football. Confident, physical and tough and he plays with a swagger. I love this guy. Teams just stopped throwing his way. He gave up 11 passes all last year and no touchdowns. NFL scouts hate that he’s only 5 10” but I don’t care. This guy is really good. If you pick him, now you have a great nickel back who has time to learn the position. TJ Carrie and Nelson and Nate Allen can play safety with Smith, Amerson & Alexander playing CB. A good mix of youth and experience.
Oh the fickle NFL draft. Remember when Hargreaves was in the top 5 of most everyone’s mock draft? Not anymore. In fact I just saw him falling as low as 16 now in an experts draft. Another great athlete but he gave up 16.5 yards per pass play and struggled in Florida’s two toughest games; Michigan and Alabama. Two months ago I said I liked Alexander over him and again got the idiot tag. I’ll stick by what I said.
There are slim pickings for MLB so it’s going to be tricky here. There really is only 1 first rounder with Kentrell Brothers being the next best MLB after Reggie Ragland but most think he’s a mid to late 2nd rounder.
Ragland is a classic Alabama linebacker who is a thumper. He is a good tackler and very physical. As I’ve said before, Alabama linebackers are a risk. Nick Saban plays almost all zone and LB’s at Bama don’t have to cover RB’s man to man. You literally don’t know if they can cover. The Raiders found that out with Rolando McClain. He wasn’t a good cover guy and the pick didn’t pan out. I’m not a fan of this pick because of the risk but again; but their are slim pickings at MLB this year.
Lee is the favorite for some but he is an OLB so I don’t get the love. It’s also a huge risk. Lee is a great athlete but he’s pretty lean for a LB position in the NFL and at times struggled against power blockers. He also has been playing LB for only 2 years; that’s in his life. He was a QB in high school and he played safety early on at OSU. A great athlete and again, that’s what the NFL likes but he has a lot to learn.
Wow; this guy has talent. I love his potential and I like him over Lee. He needs to be consistent and with the right coaching he can be something special. I would not be hurt by drafting Floyd and then getting a MLB in the later rounds. If he’ll play hard every play, he can be special. If the Raiders are looking at just talent, this guy is hard to pass up even though it doesn’t fix the MLB problem, but they could address it later.
Who will the Raiders pick?
If it was me I would take Lawson, Alexander and Floyd in that order. Floyd is moving up the charts I think and if he is a top 10 pick I would not be surprised. I would then pick a MLB in the 2nd or 3rd round.
No one really knows; not even the Raiders at this point; but I think the Raiders are going to go for the safest pick. The draft has very slim pickings at MLB and they really need one. As of now I see them drafting Reggie Ragland MLB out of Alabama. He can definitely start right away and if you draft an MLB in the lower rounds, they may not be ready to start. Ben Heeney is a nice backup but he’s not a full time starter IMHO.
Whoever they pick it will be another piece to help the Raiders attempt to be a playoff team. It’s hard to realize that there has never been a Tweet or a Facebook post that has ever talked about a Raiders playoff game. Facebook started in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. Hopefully for the Raiders that will end this year.
Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:
On a warm summer day in Canton, Ohio after the enshrinement ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Oakland Raider owner Al Davis was doing one of his last interviews in public. Looking fragile and using a walker, Mr. Davis was talking to an ESPN reporter when Jerry Jones walked by to say hi and tell people how great Al is. It was obvious that both men could see that time was not an ally of Mr. Davis and they talked accordingly.
“If I have any regrets in life, one of them is not doing enough to get the great Raiders of the past into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We had so many good ones and that has to be fixed. We need to do a better job.”
Let’s face it. Every team has a long list of players that fans want in the Hall of Fame. I think I was reading yesterday that Denver only has 4 players in the HOF. That’s amazing.
I’ve always had the ability to be unbiased about things. Whether it’s politics or sports teams or anything. I’ll be honest about it and be secure in the answer. Let’s face it though; most are very biased and they see what they want. I need to be objective when I look at things to have integrity.
So without further ado, lets do an unbiased look at Raiders that may or may not make the NFL HOF. Let’s first look at the coach and the offense today. Tomorrow we will look at defense.
“If Bill King was in New York, Chicago, or Boston, they would have a statue built of him already”.
Gary Radnich, KNBR Radio
(Please Click on watch on You Tube to watch the above video)
Above is Bill King’s amazingly funny call of the Holy Roller. One of the great calls of all time. I’m going to write an article on Bill King in the future but he really deserves to be in at least 2 Hall of Fames; NBA and NFL. Another west coast snub. Some east coast sports writers don’t even know who he is. NFL films icon Steve Sabol said Bill was his favorite announcer.
Deserves to be in the HOF: YES; A huge one!
Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful; absolute outrage.
The Raiders didn’t need the Rooney rule. If Al Davis thought you could do the job, he’d hire you. That’s what he felt when he hired Tom Flores to be his head coach.
Tom Flores was a branch off the amazing Sid Gillman coaching tree which is huge and included Al Davis. He won a Championship as an assistant, player (backup to Len Dawson’s 1969 KC Chiefs team) and a coach.
In 12 years of coaching he had 6 winning seasons and 2 Super Bowl wins and was 97-87. He also was 8-3 in post season. A huge issue with voters is in his last 5 years of coaching the Raiders and the Seahawks, he was only 27-52.
This is a tough one and I think the east coast media bias again is hugely an issue. Weeb Ewbank who was a good coach is 1 game over .500 but is in the HOF. He did win 130 games though. Where was his biggest coaching stint? NY Jets and NY players always have an edge with the east coast media.
Tom didn’t have a ton of wins and also really struggled his last 5 years but he was a players coach who had a 11-8 playoff record with 2 Super Bowl Titles.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes
Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually
I literally feel offended & disgusted that I even have to answer the question, is Cliff Branch HOF worthy. Cliff is one of the greatest deep threats of all time. One of the few players that didn’t lose speed with age. Kenny Stabler said in one interview, “We were great. I had a great offensive line, with great running backs and receivers. I mean Cliff Branch could out run half the cars in the parking lot.”
John Madden would laugh and say, “Cliff in the early years would tell me during the 3rd quarter to throw to him because he could beat his guy. In about his 6th year we’d be warming up and he’d tell me that Ken needed to throw to him because he knew he could beat his guy. I’d laugh and say Cliff you don’t even know who your guy is yet!”.
When Washington’s Daryl Green hit Cliff in the first Raider play in the Super Bowl to try and intimidate him, Branch smiled and shook his finger back and forth in front of his face. No one could intimidate him or the Raiders.
He has so many clutch catches in big games you can’t count them. His catch and long run for a touchdown in the Sea of Hands game helped turn the game around.
Deserves to be in the HOF: YES, YES, YES
Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually
In a genius move, Al Davis drafted Bo Jackson in the 7th round the year after Bo refused to play for Tampa Bay. He told Bo he could play two sports, something the rest of the league refused to do. Bo Played only 4 years. He never ran for 1000 yards and ended his career with only 2782 yards after a hip injury shortened his career. Although a streaking comet, there isn’t a chance he’s a HOF player.
Deserves to be in the HOF: No Way
Will be Voted into HOF: Not a chance
If you ask someone does Jim Plunkett deserve to be in the HOF and most will say sure, he won two Super Bowls. But lets look at the facts.
Jim Plunkett was NEVER named as an All Pro. He NEVER made a pro bowl and was NEVER considered any where near the best quarterback of his era. In contrast Ken Stabler was voted to the all decade team, was all pro several times, was an MVP and even his competitors say he’s the best QB of the 1970’s, the greatest era of all time.
As a starting QB he was only 72-72. He has only 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. His lifetime passing % was only 52%. Some like to compare him to Joe Namath and some of the numbers are nearly equal but there are others that aren’t close. Namath was an all pro; 4 time AFL all star; two times Player of the Year; two time MVP and also on the AFL all time team.
Plunkett threw for over 2600 yards in his career only one time and never threw for over 3000 yards. Namath threw for over 2600 yards 6 times; twice throwing for over 3000 yards and once for over 4000 yards which was unheard of at the time.
In the two Super Bowl wins that Jim played in, the defense in 8 quarters allowed only 19 points. Against the Eagles he won the MVP and even he’s admitted Rod Martin; who had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions; should have been MVP. Plunkett completed only 13 passes for 261 yards with 80 of those yards coming on a short pass and long run by Kenny King. Against Washington, the defense, offensive line and Marcus Allen were the kings of that game. He completed 16 passes for 172 yards in that game. Saying Jim Plunkett won these games isn’t true.
People also forget that he played musical chairs as a starter with Mark Wilson. Both could not hold onto the job sometimes due to injuries and sometimes bad play.
There isn’t a better story than the Plunkett family story and wow is he a great guy. I really like him but he’s not a HOF player in my eyes. You can’t vote someone into the HOF as one of the all time greats when he is not even considered that great in his own era. No pro bowls but a hall of fame? Doesn’t make sense.
Deserves to be in the HOF: No
Will be Voted into HOF: Maybe
Todd Christensen was a son of a scholar and he was extremely smart. Some felt he was arrogant but in reality he was a good guy that just came off as such. Most NFL players didn’t talk like a scholar so he turned people off. It’s sad he’s not remembered more. He died tragically 2 years ago @ the age of 57.
He twice lead the league in catches. In his best year he caught 95 passes for 1153 yards. For a 4 year span he caught 349 catches which at that time was an NFL record. He was the first TE to ever catch 90 passes in 2 consecutive years. Although he may not have played long enough to be a HOF player, he was an excellent Raider and one of the best in the NFL for a 5 year span. RIP.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Maybe
Will be Voted into HOF: Long shot
When you replace a legend like Center Jim Otto, you better be good; Dave Dalby was.
Last year ESPN had a round table talking about who belonged in the Hall of Fame. Two names kept coming up; Jack Tatum and Cliff Branch. Surprisingly another name that came up was Dave Dalby. Tom Jackson especially praised Dalby and said he felt he was a hall of famer.
If you ask Raider players and the fans that he was around, there wasn’t a kinder person. If you are a person of faith, Dave’s story is pretty amazing and you can read below.
He played 14 years without missing a game. He was all pro 1 time and has 3 Super Bowl rings; one as a backup and 2 as a starter. He was the glue of the offensive line of the Raiders after Otto left. Hard to find a more solid center in that period of time.
He died in 2002. He was only 51 and some said he spiraled out of control. Many now feel CTE was partially to blame. He had become addicted to alcohol and struggled a lot after his career. His alcohol level was .15 when he floored his van into a tree. A truly sad ending for a kind Raider who always was willing to help others. I see memories from Raider fans and players online even today. He’s very missed. RIP Dave. And I really mean that.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Maybe
Will be Voted into HOF: Longshot
If there was ever a guy that was born in the wrong decade, it was the “Wiz”. Wisniewski was a rugged player who most considered dirty. He would have fit right into the Raiders of old.
He was an 8 time pro bowler and voted to the 1990’s all decade team. The problem isn’t really with Steve it’s with the era. The Raiders had some lean years during his time and he also played during an era where there were many all time great guards who played. Steve also had a bad reputation for his dirty play which will take a little time to get over. It took a long time for him to even be nominated but I think he’s a HOF player.