For the Raiders to maximize their investment in 2 highy paid, man on man, press corners, we need another pass rushing DE.
Based on our current personnel, team needs, and the way the draft selections of Miami (#1), St. Louis (#2), and Atlanta (#3) are shaping up, our choice at #4 is quite obvious to me ...
Defensive End Vernon Gholston (Ohio State)
Everyone should be excited about having the best CB tandem in the NFL. I would feel much better about our new CB tandem making a significant impact if we had 2 of the better bookend DE pass rushers in Burgess & Gholston.
As it stands today, Burgess is our only legitimate pass rusher. Teams will naturally double team and chip block him. Add Gholston to the other side and watch the opponent's QB start heaving the ball up for grabs or violently being drilled to the turf.
This pick has all the ear markings of everything coming together to make it a "no brainer".
The Raiders depth chart at DE is bare thin.
Gholston should be available at #4 (or #6 with a draft day swap with the Jets).
Gholston is the type of athlete that Al covets... a super freak athlete who looks good coming off the bus. Incredibly athletic, strong, fast with tremendous potential. A good comparison would be Gholston and Merriman.
Here's the bio on Gholston:
Vernon Gholston is a remarkable talent, but he's only just begun realizing his vast potential.
He never picked up a football until his sophomore year in high school and had just one season of defensive experience as a linebacker before being converted to defensive end when he arrived at Ohio State.
Blessed with incredible speed (clocked at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash), long limbs and superb strength, Gholston is the prototype pass rusher that professional teams look for -- big, fast, strong and explosive. An avid performer in the weight room, he boasted the best bench press on the team at 455 pounds. He also put on an impressive performance for teammates, squatting 405 pounds 20 times.
How Gholston was lured into football will one day make a nice story, if he becomes the legendary pass rusher many personnel experts are predicting. Walking in the halls of Cass Technical High School, football coach Thomas Wilcher spotted the 14-year-old strapping youngster, who stood 6-3, 240 pounds at the time. He convinced the player to join the football team.
Gholston was too big to play in Detroit's Police Athletic League and the elementary public schools did not offer an organized football program. From the first time he ever stepped on the field, the coaching staff knew they had a natural talent.
As a sophomore at Cass Tech, Gholston was first tried at linebacker, but he was overwhelmed by the plays he needed to know to play that position. One of the offensive coaches "stole" the youngster away from the defensive squad and had him play offensive guard as a sophomore. His junior campaign was limited by ankle sprains, which forced him to stay on the offensive line and scrap plans to also play linebacker.
By his senior season, he had already earned All-State honors as an offensive lineman and gained experience playing linebacker for the first time in his career. In just one season on defense, he was regarded as one of the best linebackers in the Midwest region. He would go on to record 75 tackles with six sacks in his final season, as Rivals.com rated him the 11th-best defensive end prospect in the nation and the 12th-best overall prospect in the state of Michigan.
Gholston enrolled at Ohio State, becoming the only player from Michigan on the squad. He turned down scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa to join the Buckeyes. The coaching staff immediately began giving him a crash course in playing the "Leo" position, which incorporates dropping into pass coverage and rushing the passer from either side of the field.
He mentored under Mike Kudla his first year with the team, appearing in six games as a true freshman in 2004, but did not record a tackle. In 2005, a broken hand suffered in the second game vs. Texas earned Gholston a medical hardship. He had one tackle in that game and spent the rest of the year on the sideline.
Gholston used that time wisely in the weight room, bulking up from 238 to 264 pounds, as he took over "Leo" duties in 2006. He garnered All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors, as he ranked fourth in the league with 15 stops for losses of 86 yards and was fifth in the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks. He added a quarterback pressure with two pass breakups and an interception. He also finished sixth on the squad with 49 tackles (21 solo).
In 2007, Gholston earned All-American recognition and was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end. He posted 37 tackles (25 solo) and was a terror in the backfield, ranking eighth in the nation with 15.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and second nationally with 14 sacks. He also scooped up a fumble and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown.
In 34 games at Ohio State, Gholston started 25 times. He registered 87 tackles (47 solo) with 22.5 sacks for minus-184 yards and 30.5 stops for losses of 199 yards. He had two pass deflections and an eight-yard interception return, as he also recovered a fumble that he returned 25 yards for a touchdown.
Here's Vernon Gholston's scouting report via NFL Draft Countdown:
Calico Jack's Checklist on Vernon Gholston:
(1) Size: (check) > 6'3, 266 chiseled lbs.
(2) Speed: (check) > 4.58 40 time
(3) Strength: (check) > 37 reps of 225 lbs (best result of entire combine)
(4) Explosion: (check) > 42" vertical jump & 10' 5" broad jump
(5) Production: (check) > 14 sacks in 13 games in 2007 including a sack vs. Jake Long
(6) Combine: (check) > complete confirmation of physical talents (see results below)
(7) Pro Day: (check) > same as above
(8) Need: (check) > The Raiders biggest need position is DE; Raiders had only 27 sacks last year
(9) BPA: (check) > if selecting at #4, one of 2 top BPA on the board. If a trade is completed with the Jets; selecting at #6, definitely BPA
(10) Impact Position: (check) > A speedy pass rushing DE is a high impact position
(11) Value Pick: (check) > NFL teams place a high premium on acquiring a pass rushing DE.
(12) Additional Value: (check) > The acquisition of Vernon Gholston enhances the value of the Raiders cornerback tandem who play man to man coverage.
2008 Combine Results:
DL Top five 40-yard dash times (seconds)
1. Marcus Howard, Georgia -- 4.48
2. Quentin Groves, Auburn -- 4.50
3. Cliff Avril, Purdue -- 4.57
4. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State -- 4.61 (* ran 4.58 at pro day)
5. Shawn Crable, Michigan -- 4.64
DL Top five 10-yard splits (seconds)
1. Marcus Howard, Georgia -- 1.53
2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State -- 1.56
3. Quentin Groves, Auburn -- 1.60
4. Cliff Avril, Purdue -- 1.61
T5. Shawn Crable, Michigan -- 1.64
T5. Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest -- 1.64
DL Top five bench press results (reps)
1. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State -- 37
T2. Trevor Laws, Notre Dame -- 35
T2. Ahtyba Rubin, Iowa State -- 35
T4. Sedrick Ellis, Southern California -- 34
T4. Nick Hayden, Wisconsin -- 34
DL Top five vertical jump results (inches)
1. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State -- 35.5 (jumped 42” at pro day)
2. Marcus Howard, Georgia -- 34.5
3. Chris Long, Virginia -- 34
T4. Cliff Avril, Purdue -- 32.5
T4. Louis Holmes, Arizona -- 32.5
DL Top five broad jump results (feet)
1. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State -- 10.5
2. Chris Long, Virginia -- 10.4
3. Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan -- 10.3
4. Louis Holmes, Arizona -- 10.1
5. Quentin Groves, Auburn -- 10.0
The ideal situation for a high 1st round pick is for the player that we take is both a vital need AND the BPA. Further, it is ideal if the player taken plays a high impact position such as QB, LT, and DE. Drafting at #4, Vernon Gholston would fill the most vital need AND be arguably 1 of the 2 BPA AND plays a high impact position. If we had let Rhodes go ... or if we didn't resign Fargas ... or if Bush wasn't 100% ready for takeoff, I could see more merit in taking Darren McFadden. As it stands now, Gholston makes the most sense to me.