Lane Kiffin was floating the possibility Thursday of a trading the No. 4 overall pick, which could mean any number of things.
Perhaps the Raiders are seeking more and better offers to what they already have for the right to select what could be Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.
Maybe it was to disguise the fact that the Raiders will actually take McFadden themselves.
Or possibly Kiffin was just killing time, promoting the intrigue that goes with the last few days before a draft.
In a welcomed departure from recent years, the Raiders coach met with the media provide an update on club business and discuss the draft. The Raiders even trotted out two of their offseason acquisitions, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and left tackle Kwame Harris, for Q&A sessions.
(I’ll post something on those interviews later)
Kiffin started talking trade as part of opening statement.
“With the upcoming draft, obviously with the fourth pick overall, a number of great players will be sitting there for us to take,” Kiffin said. “More than ever, not in Raider fashion, we may trade back. It hasn’t happened before but it is something we’re seriously looking at. And that stems from the lack of picks and not having a fifth, a third or a second, it’s something we’re really looking at and having conversations about because of the lack of picks.”
Kiffin said there have been “a number of calls, and a few serious conversations” about trading the pick.
The trade partner would most likely be a team that covets McFadden, a player also happens to be the player most mock drafts have as the Raiders choice.
“There are going to be guys there that people are valuing, McFadden especially because he’s so unique and so dynamic, there are a number of teams that want him, and some teams right behind us, maybe not one pick behind us, but two picks behind us, that really want him,” Kiffin said. “When you’re going back there’s got to be something they really want to come up. That’s usually a quarterback or just a phenomenal touchdown maker.”
The team right behind the Raiders is the Chiefs, who already have Larry Johnson in the backfield and could be looking at quarterback Matt Ryan of Boston College, an offensive lineman such as Brendan Albert or a defensive tackle such as Sedrick Ellis. Two spots back are New York Jets, who would love to have McFadden drop to the No. 6 spot, but have the Raiders as a gatekeeper in their way.
After picking at No. 6, New York has a choice early in the second round (No. 36 overall), two picks in the fourth (Nos. 102 and 113) and picks in the sixth (171) and seventh (211).
The Dallas Cowboys, who have two first round picks (Nos. 22 and 28) have also been mentioned as a trade partner. Dallas also has a pick in every round from 2 through 7 (Nos. 61, 92, 126, 163, 167 and 235).
The Raiders have never had fewer than six picks in an NFL draft. When asked if he would be surprised if Oakland had just five draftees in its 2008 draft class, Kiffin said, “Yeah, I think I would. I think I would be surprised because that’s a long time to sit in the room without doing anything.”
Other topics addressed by Kiffin Thursday included:
–Assessing offensive line prospects for a zone blocking system.
“I think if you saw our board on offensive linemen you’d be shocked because it wouldn’t go anywhere near any of the mock drafts or any of the people that you see where you go,” Kiffin said. “We’d have people at the top of our offensive line board that you’d think are fourth or fifth round picks. It’s a different way to eveluate people.”
Albert, the Virginia Tech lineman who has been a climber on draft boards of late as a projected tackle, would be a guard in a zone blocking system, Kiffin said.
— A commitment to Tommy Kelly as the three-technique.
“We re-signed Tommy to play the three technique, so that’s where Tommy is going to be playing,” Kiffin said. “He’s moved around a lot here in the past. He’s played nose, he’s played three, he’s played open side end, closed side end.
That’s not going to happen any more. He’s here to be our three technique and dominate in there. I just imagine that’s going to help him so much, because he gets to focus on one thing instead of playing four different spots.”
Kiffin said LSU tackle Glenn Dorsey, who most figure will be gone by the time the Raiders pick to either St. Louis or Atlanta, is probably better suited to a three-technique but is capable of playing the nose.
— The appeal of Virginia end Chris Long, son of Howie Long.
“I think you see a phenomenal effort player, first of all – nonstop, relentless, a guy who’s played a number of spots,” Kiffin said. “He’s actually played in a 3-technique, he’s played in a 3-4 where he’s head-up and he’s bumped outside, and he’s stood up as a backer inside. So there’s no scenario you need to look at that you don’t have on film, of what he can do, and what he brings to the table. He’s so strong at the point of attack, and would be a guy that I think would help us tremendously in the run game.”
— The versatility of Ohio State rush end Vernon Gholston.
“He definitely can play in a 4-3 system. He’s perfect for a 3-4 system outside, probably, but he can definitely play in a 4-3,” Kiffin said.
— The 2007 slump of nose tackle Terdell Sands.
“Last offseason he went through a lot of tough things. Lost a number of very close people in his family, and as you look back, that affected him,” Kiffin said. “I know he’d be the first to tell you, he didn’t go through the offseason the way he should have, and he let that affect his football instead of dealing with it otherwise, and did not have a productive offseason, and ended up having to play catch up the whole time.
“Training camp isn’t the time here to catch up and to get in shape. Training camp, come in shape, and we’ll improve you and get you better. Instead, he came in to get in shape in training camp and never caught up.”
— The absence of defensive end Derrick Burgess from the offseason program.
Derrick has not been in here (in the offseason) since he’s been here,” Kiffin said.“You like everybody here. You want 100 percent, but there are some guys that you feel more comfortable not being here because you know how they work, you know what they do.
“One of the best stories about Derrick is he plays in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago, and the people at Ole Miss are telling me, it’s two days after the Pro Bowl and he’s up there working out two days after the Pro Bowl. So, that’s what you got there. So, if there’s anybody you don’t worry about being in shape and working out, Derrick’s one of them.”
— The offseason of JaMarcus Russell.
“He’s having a phenominal offseason. He came back 10, 11 days before we even started,” Kiffin said. “So he was with our coaches and with our strength staff before everybody else got back here five weeks ago and he hasn’t missed a thing since. Most the guys are really here three, four hours a day. He’s here about five-and-a-half, six hours a day.
“He’s here first thing in the morning, he has position meetings in the morning, he goes in and lifts and he goes in and runs. He comes in and changes and goes back out and throws with the guys. By far he’s in the best shape since I’ve seen him, even if you go back to his pro day at college. So I know he’s real excited about the upcoming season as well.”
The status of running back LaMont Jordan.
“LaMont does have a very high contract, and a big number coming into this,” Kiffin said. “So we have to look at what happens in the draft, look at what else is going on and make a decision.”
— Health updates.
Kiffin said Kelly should be ready to go 100 percent by training camp. Free agent wide receiver Javon Walker (knee) should be good to go at the first minicamp following the draft, and safety Jarrod Cooper “is nearly 100 percent) following ACL surgery.