Fixing, Upgrading, Wheeling & Dealing
Over the course of the past few weeks to include of course the 2010 NFL Draft, the Raiders organization has followed a simple, sensible blueprint for improving the team.
1. Acquire young NFL vets to address needs and upgrade the talent level.
Instead of over-spending on older players on the downside of their career, the Raiders picked up QB Jason Campbell for a 2012 4th round pick, LB Kamerion Wimbley for one of their extra 3rd round picks this year, and DE Quinten Groves for a 5th round pick.
2. Improve our run defense.
The Raiders run defense was ranked #28 in ypc (4.5) and ranked #29 in ypg (155.5) in 2009. The additions of 1st round selection Rolando McClain (Alabama) and 2nd round pick Lamar Houston (Texas) helps our interior run defense.
The center-piece to our improved interior run defense falls on the broad shoulders of McClain whose football IQ is off the charts. He is a born leader and field general that will help orchestrate better team defense. Here are a few attributes listed in McClain's scouting report:
Rolando McClain, 6-4/256
• Huge frame for ILB
• Very long arms
• Good level of production
• Comfortable in coverage
• Excellent tackling technique
• Stacks and sheds blocks well
• Very good pass rusher
• Love his timing on blitzes
• Nice agility; smooth change of direction
• Highly experienced
• Takes good angles to the ball
• Stays in control
• Vocal leader
• Doesn't take plays off
• Outstanding instincts
Here's the draft analysis on Lamar Houston, 6-3/305:
"The hulking interior defender is an exceptional athlete with outstanding strength and power. He is capable of stacking blockers at the point of attack, but also possesses the quickness to play as an up-field penetrator. Given the Raiders' woes on defense, the addition of Houston will undoubtedly shore up some of the problems." inside.
My guess is that Richard Seymour will see his fair share of snaps playing DT and Houston will be used both as a DT and DE. Our projected front 7:
LDE-Shaughnessy/Houston; UT-Kelly/Houston; NT-Bryant/Seymour; RDE-Seymour/Richardson
WLB-Scott/Howard; MLB-McClain/Nixon/Goethel; SLB-Wimbley/Brown
3. Upgrade our QB play
Jason Campbell is quite simply the "Anti-Russell". Campbell is everything that a fan should expect out of a professional QB with the key word being 'professional'. No one has to worry about whether our new starting QB is well prepared, knows the playbook, and in top shape. Campbell is an athletic, durable QB who started in all 32 Washington games over the past 2 seasons. He is an accurate (64.5% in 2009; 61.2% career) passer with good mobility.
4. Add talent, depth, and competition at OLine.
This remains a work-in-progress. Although we drafted 2 OTs with a ton of "upside" and athletic talent in Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell, both of these prospects would seem to be 2-3 year projects.
Round 3, Pick 5 (69) - Jared Veldheer, OT,6'8" 312, Hillsdale
Pick Analysis: "The Raiders go with small-school standout Jared Veldheer to compete for time at offensive tackle. Though he dominated inferior competition in college, his impressive performance in pre-draft workouts showcased his immense potential as a pro."
Round 4, Pick 8 (106)- Bruce Campbell, OT, 6'6" 314, Maryland
Pick Analysis: "The Raiders pick up the most athletic offensive tackle from the NFL Scouting Combine with their selection of Bruce Campbell. Though many expected the team to nab him in the first round, the Raiders patiently waited to acquire him with the 106th pick. While he is raw in several aspects of his game, Campbell's outstanding athleticism gives him a chance to develop into a solid player in time."
5. Improve our KR/PR abilities.
Last season the Raiders return units were horrendous. Our KR unit ranked last with a 18.2 yards per kick return average. The Raiders PR unit ranked #29 at 4.9 yards per punt return. 4th round pick, Jacoby Ford (Clemson), should be able to create a spark on special teams and improve our field position. He is also a good prospect to be a slot WR.
Round 4, Pick 10 (108) (From Jaguars) - Jacoby Ford, WR, 5'9" 186, Clemson
Pick Analysis: "The Raiders continue their tradition of selecting outstanding track athletes with the addition of Jacoby Ford. The former track All-America has exceptional speed and quickness, and gives the team a versatile receiver/returner. With his explosiveness, Ford could develop into an impact player for the Silver and Black."
Rebuilding instead of reaching ... what a wonderful concept.