Raiders Draft Analysis
Going into the 2006 NFL Draft, there was a well defined shopping list of positional need areas to be addressed by the Oakland Raiders. These need areas consisted of OLB, SS, OG, DT, and RB. It looks by all indications we fulfilled 3 of the 5 need areas.
After reading the scouting reports and various news articles on each player, I noticed a few recurring themes or qualities that seemed to be prevalent with this group. These qualities are Tough (T), Physical (P), High Character (HC), Exceptional Speed (ES), Motivated (M), Need (N).
Round 1/7 - Michael Huff (S, 6-0, 204, Texas) - (T, P, HC, ES, M, N)
Round 2/38 - Thomas Howard (OLB, 6-3, 240, UTEP) - (T, P, ES, M, N)
Round 3/69 - Paul McQuistan (OG/OT, 6-6, 313, Weber St.) - (T, P, HC, M, N)
Round 4/101 - Darnell Bing (SS/LB, 6-2, 228, USC) - (T, P, M, N)
Round 6/176 - Kevin Boothe (OG, 6-5, 312, Cornell) - (T, P, HC, M, N)
Round 7/214 - Chris Morris (C, 6-3, 299, Michigan St.) - (T, P, HC, M)
Round 7/255 - Kevin McMahan (WR, 6-2, 196, Maine) - Forever known as "Mr. Irrelevant" as the last pick in the draft
Here is a breakdown, analysis, and scouting report for each new Raider:
(Grading scale/Key for scouting reports)
Michael Huff (Scouting Report)
Huff Daddy is the crown jewel of the Raiders draft. He will be able to make an immediate impact in improving the Raiders defense. Huff is fundamentally sound, versatile, exceptionally fast (4.35 40 time), an excellent open field tackler, and a prime-time playmaker. His versatility is his calling card. Huff is equally adept at lining up in press coverage, in the slot, or as a deep safety. Take a look at this video. Huff has amazing closing speed and a nose for the football.
Here is NFL.com's analysis on Michael Huff: "This is a big of a surprise, but you always have to expect the unexpected with the Raiders. Matt Leinart seemed like the right pick here, but the Raiders apparently feel comfortable with Aaron Books and their other quarterbacks. Instead, they have gone with one of the better and more versatile defensive players in the draft. Huff can play cornerback, as well as safety. He is excellent in coverage and he is an extremely tough, hard-hitting player who could greatly help in run support."
Outlook: Michael Huff is a special player. He is the new breed safety who can play anywhere on the field. Huff is the "Where is Waldo?" defensive player who the offense needs to locate and identify. Is he blitzing, in the slot, on the line, in deep coverage? This versatility will allow Defensive Coordinator Ryan the flexibility to mix and match his coverage schemes and blitz packages. For example, I would anticipate Huff playing the Rover or "Wolverine" position in the Big Nickel package. This nickel package will help neutralize the offense's effectiveness in 3 WR sets.
Thomas Howard (Scouting Report)
The LB corps was probably the weakest link for the Raiders going into the 2006 draft. We desperately needed an OLB who has the ability to cover both tight ends and running backs and make plays from sideline to sideline. Howard was probably the fastest LB in the draft (4.45 40). He is very effective at applying pressure on the QB off the edge. Watch this video. It is amazing how Howard uses his speed to blitz off the edge.
Here is NFL.com's synopsis on Thomas Howard: "He might be the fastest linebacker in the draft. Originally, he was at UTEP as a safety. He can run and cover receivers, and has a strong defensive mentality."
Outlook: Thomas Howard should improve our overall pass coverage and adds athleticism and playmaking skills that were sorely missing in 2005. Look for Howard to be rotated into the base 4-3 defense with Sam Williams. Once again, a player like Howard affords Defensive Coordinator Ryan the flexibility to mix and match his personnel groupings based on down and distance. Because of Howard's speed and coverage abilities, the Raiders should have the entire LB corps on the field more often instead of relying on the nickel package. In my judgment, Howard is the "X" factor in the draft. If he fully utilizes his exceptional athletic ability and hones his football instincts, this draft will be looked upon very favorably.
Paul McQuistan (Scouting Report)
Our new red-headed, Braveheart. I love this pick! The red mullet is just a bonus. McQ plays with a determined nasty streak. McQ is an extremely physical, hard-nosed, coachable football player who played OT in college but more than likely will be moved to OG. Art Shell & Jackie Slater should be able to mold McQ into a highly productive member of the O-Line. Here's a short video clip of our beloved Braveheart McNasty.
Here is NFL.com's analysis on Mr.McQ: "He has a twin brother who played with him at Weber State. He is a long-armed mauler type of offensive lineman who grew up on a ranch in Oregon. Typical Raiders offensive lineman."
Outlook: McQ will provide immediate depth on the O-line. It would not surprise me if McQ takes over for Brad Badder by mid-season. For the Raiders to return to glory, the O-line will need to gel, set the tone, and establish an effective power rushing attack. Braveheart McNasty is starting to developing quite a cult following amongst the Raider Nation.
Darnell Bing (Scouting Report)
This was a high value pick for the Raiders. Bing was originally projected to be a late 1st round, early 2nd round pick by most experts. The reason being given for his drop to the 4th round is that he is a "tweener". Not fast enough as a safety, not big enough to play line-backer. The Raider organization has announced that Bing will be converted to LB. Bing is known for being a ferocious hitter with an imtimidating presence.
Here is NFL.com's synopsis on Darnell Bing: "He doesn't have good coverage skills for a safety, but they announced they're going to play him at linebacker. He's a good player who has a good opportunity to convert to LB."
Outlook: Bing-A-Ling will make a solid contribution as a special teams player, blitzer, run stuffer, occasional SS in the Big Nickel package, and as a WLB down the road.
Kevin Boothe (Scouting Report)
Boothe is a physically imposing lineman who needs to work on his technique especially his footwork. He might be more suited to transition into an OG as opposed to his college position of OT.
Here is NFL.com's analysis on Kevin Boothe: "He is their kind of guy ... IF he can pass a physical. He played Ivy League football, which is a disadvantage, because they don't play as many games, and they don't practice as long as most schools. He plays better in pads than shorts. Every year, someone takes a chance on an Ivy League lineman."
Outlook: Boothe has all of the physical tools to one day become a solid contributor. He is a smart, coachable pupil for both Shell and Slater to work with for the long term.
Chris Morris (Scouting Report)
Morris was an Academic All-American at Michigan State who gained valuable experience playing against top competition in the Big-10.
Here is NFL.com's synopsis on Chris Morris: "He's a center from Michigan State. He is a big offensive lineman that has been a trademark of the Raiders. He's the kind of player they like; he's big and strong and runs well."
Outlook: Morris will be the emergency back-up to starting C Jake Grove in case Grove is injured or gets moved to OG. He also will be used as a long snapper on special teams. With the drafting of Morris I would anticipate C Adam Treau being cut come June 1st.
Kevin McMahan (Scouting Report)
Summary: Huff, Howard, and Bing are physical, athletic players who should improve our overall defense in terms of playmaking skills, QB pressure abilities, and flexibility in our defensive packages. McQ, Boothe, and Morris strengthen our O-line and provide immediate depth. Overall I would characterize this draft as solid and productive. We were able to fill 3 need areas and give our coaching staff players to build for the future.