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Draft wrap

The smallest draft class in Raiders history had great measurables. Now all they have to do is measure up.

Everyone knows about the skills of running back Darren McFadden. UConn defensive Tyvon Branch was one of the fastest defensive backs at the combine. Wide receiver Arman Shields ran a sub- 4.4 40-yard dash, and was a warrior on three-cone drills and the like at the combine. Wide receiver Chaz Schillens was another size, speed projection with moderate production.

Defensive end Trevor Scott ran a 4.54 40-yard dash in his private workout.

These guys not only looked good getting off the bus, they got off it faster than most.

With just five members in the Class of ’08, the Raiders look to stock their roster for the rookie minicamp starting May 9, signing undrafted free agents. Teams will scramble for these guys, with the stone reality being that of all the undraftables the Raiders bring in, it’s possible none of them will make the 53-man roster.

You hope for a Barry Sims, Tommy Kelly or Chris Carr. Last year, the Raiders didn’t find a single undrafted free agent worthy of making a team coming off a 2-14 season.

So how did the Raiders fare this year?

Go ahead and give it your best guess, because that is all it is. Trash ‘em if you wish, give ‘em an A-plus, grades are meaningless and pointless until the players actually take the field.

It seems clear, however, that at least in Kiffin’s mind, putting together a team will be more difficult than it was last year because of free agency and the draft. It probably didn’t win Kiffin any points with Al Davis when he said it, but the coach allowed that the goal was to make it hard to determine the final 53. Last season, Kiffin said it wasn’t all that tough with the Raiders because they simply weren’t all that talented.

It was a classic Davis draft, but it’s up to Kiffin to fit the pieces together.

There remain huge question marks, as gifted starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell is little more than a glorified rookie. The defense still has to prove it can stop the run and looks to be at least one pass rusher short, unless you’re optimistic enough to see Scott as an instant impact player out of the Mid-America Conference.

But there is more talent on hand, with a head coach just getting back his sea legs as well as a defensive coordinator and several key assistants in the last year of their contracts.

There is also one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, although you could make the argument that a team with 19 wins over five years has no easy games.

A few notes and observations in the 22nd blog entry since Saturday morning:

– The rookie minicamp, which begins May 9, is not open to players with an accrued year of experience, according to offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

That means even if Russell wanted to come, he couldn’t.

– Not so for Michael Bush, who spent the season on PUP and doesn’t have an accrued season. The drafting of McFadden had to be discouraging for Bush, with some projecting him as the Raiders feature back by 2009 or 2010. Now he’s fighting for scraps with Dominic Rhodes behind Justin Fargas and McFadden, providing Rhodes remains on the roster after accepting a cut in pay.

Bush is fully rehabbed, but the level of intrigue regarding his skill has changed in tone, judging from Kiffin’s off-hand reference to Bush Saturday.

“We’re kind of piled there with a number of really good running backs and guys coming back, including Michael Bush, who we really don’t know enough about yet,” Kiffin said.

The fact is Bush practiced for only a short period of time, during the season, when teams are looking for quickness and timing and not laying each other out. One sideline observer of the closed sessions thought he looked slow.

Still, some players look slow who actually are moving well. You never really know until they’re running from (or over) opponents during a game, and the Raiders never gave Bush that chance last year.

With Fargas’ running style, Bush can still be an injury away from playing time and will finally get the chance to show what he can do in training camp and the preseason.

The Raiders, by the way, didn’t overpay Fargas, and should he show signs of wear, Bush could still end up playing in tandem with McFadden.

– Ex-Raider personnel exec Mike Lombardi was floating the idea on the NFL Network that the New Orleans Saints might be interested in making a deal for LaMont Jordan, given Reggie Bush’s role as a change-of-pace back and the fact that Deuce McAllister is coming off a knee injury.

More likely would be the Saints simply waiting for Jordan to be cut and getting to him quickly with an offer far less than the $4.7 and $5 million salaries scheduled for 2008 and 2009.

– Most everything about McFadden’s skill set sounds fabulous, and perhaps it is. Just like it was supposed to be with Reggie Bush two years ago. In the draft, nothing is a sure thing.

– Good to know a single conversation with Tom Rathman has cleared McFadden’s fumbling problem at Arkansas, although I’m guessing the college coaches may have mentioned the same fundamentals a time or two. I like Rathman, but I doubt he’s the only running backs coach around who can teach backs how to carry a football.

– That said, fumbling can be cured. In his early training camps, Fargas was a frequent fumbler and now it isn’t an issue.

– Shields missed 10 games last season with a posterior cruciate ligament injury, but is in no way this year’s Michael Bush, a player who essentially lost his final year in college due to injury and was babied through training camp because of a badly broken leg.

Shields had great numbers at the combine and was shown running and jumping on the video presentation on NFL.com. He even wiped out on the field during one drill and popped right back up.

– Judging from the weight the Raiders gave the speed and strength workout numbers, I’m wondering who Oakland would have taken if someone had jumped up and selected McFadden before they had a chance.

I’m sticking with Vernon Gholston, given Kiffin’s assurances that Kelly is the Raiders’ three technique and that it didn’t make sense to take Glenn Dorsey, a natural three technique.

(I told you during my ill-fated mock draft I was sticking with Gholston and going down with the ship . . . glug, glug, glug)

– The trade of Fabian Washington was a dump job on a far smaller scale than the one that occurred last season when Randy Moss was dealt to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round pick.

Defensive back John Bowie became the man acquired for Moss, Shields came to the Raiders a year later at No. 125 in exchange for Washington.

Moss forced the Raiders hand through his insistence he wanted no part of the program. Washington nudged the Raiders to unload him based on his spotty play and general indifference.

In 2006, Washington might have been the Raiders best defender at training camp. He was all over the field, making plays. True, those plays were coming against the horribly inept offense of Tom Walsh and Art Shell, but I remember writing at the time it looked as if Washington was ready for a breakout year.

Instead, Nnamdi Asomugha was the one who blossomed while Washington ranged from below average to above average. He was nothing special at training camp last season and ended up losing his starting job to Stanford Routt.

Worse yet, it never really seemed to bother Washington. Even corners who deserve to be benched are usually proud enough to give at least a stiff upper lip and insist they are quality starters. Washington was fine with it, and seemed to coast through the season happy to be on the team and collect a paycheck.

He also wasn’t exactly what was advertised. His speed was undeniable, but Washington simply wasn’t physical enough to play the sort of press coverage the Raiders need. At one point, with a group of writers, Washington conceded he probably weighed 170 pounds and had never been 175 in his life. He was listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds.

Washington ends up as another Phillip Buchanon and Derrick Gibson on Oakland’s first-round defensive back scrap heap, except in Buchanon’s case, the Raiders manged to take Houston for second- and third-round draft picks.

– All the trade speculation was no more than a yearly tease. Jeremy Shockey, Jason Taylor and Chad Johnson (not to mention Michael Huff and Derrick Burgess) are all still with their respective teams. The Cowboys managed to complete a deal for penal code-challenged cornerback Pacman Jones.

– It’s only a mild surprise the Raiders didn’t draft any offensive linemen. They’re not looking for the same players as everyone else. The Raiders most consistent offensive lineman last season was right guard Cooper Carlisle. The Raiders got him as an unrestricted free agent last year with virtually no competition. He came from Denver, schooled in the zone blocking system.

– Once you get to the fourth round, everyone is a reach. That’s they they’re being drafted in the fourth round. So don’t even bother applying the “bust” tag to any player who has no better than a 60-40 chance to make the roster anyway. Once you get to the fifth round, sometimes you’re happy if they make the practice squad.

Johnnie Lee Higgins was getting glowing reviews a year ago. He may or may not be any better than Shields or Schillens. We’ll have a better idea in July.

– According to the University of Buffalo Web site questionaire filled out by football players, the three people Raiders’ draftee Scott would like to invite to dinner are The Rock, Mike Alstott and George W. Bush.

– Commissioner Roger Goodell, who pushed the idea of shortening the amount of time between rounds and making it more viewer friendly, should have made a unilateral decision Sunday to end the draft when a long-snapper was selected.

That would have been in the sixth round, No. 189, when Seattle took San Diego State long-snapper Tyler Schmitt.

– Either that or when the first person named “Pierre” was drafted. That was also in the sixth round, when Pierre Garcon, a wide receiver out of Mt. Union, was taken by Indianapolis at No. 205 overall.

– Remember how Davis made such a big deal over Kiffin’s recruiting acumen? Kiffin had been in the living rooms of the country’s top high school players, so in theory he had already done a great deal of background.

Ten USC players were drafted Saturday and Sunday. For the second straight year, none by the Raiders.

Chances are good there isn’t a single player drafted in the Class of ’08 that ever had Kiffin in his living room as a USC recruit. Kiffin said McFadden wasn’t recruited because they knew he wasn’t coming West.

None of the other four draftees _ Branch, Shields, Scott or Schilens, had the look of a USC recruit.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • raiders2

    Lamont will still get cut, Then we have a nice solid 3 rb’s, Fargas(highly doubt he plays all 16)/Bush and McFadden.

  • Aussie Raider

    Why didn’t they cut Lamont? Isn’t he the one with the bigger pay cheque?

  • RaiderJake

    Does anybody know why Derrick Burgess was/is on the trading block?

  • Tommy Trojan

    it looks like we’ll have unto jordan in case we get an offer for him, or more likely during the offseason as a body until mcfadden is signed and we need the cap room

  • Black n’ Silver Knight

    Jordan will probably be gone on June 1st.

  • K-Rock

    If he gets cut,Jordan can move to Brokeback MT

    I’m sorry, that was bad…

  • raiders2

    Fil: What kind of numebrs do you see Mcfadden have in Oakland

    Jeremy Green: I think he is going to rush for 1,300 yards and catch the ball well. A lot of it will be determined on the outcome of the games. If they continue to get blown out it will hurt his production. But he is a great asset for Russell. He can be relied on by Russell to make a play when he needs to.

    D Mac baby.

  • DoeDoe

    Raiders23

    Still there?

  • Quagmire’d

    who from the west will take Rhodes? My guess is the Broncos.

  • http://insidebay Rick The Hunter

    Surpise,Surprise!! The Raiders took the best player in the draft and most of the media still calls it a bad pick. “Ah they made a huge mistake not taking Dorsey, too many running backs”. Let’s see, we just let Rhodes go, Lamont (towel biting) Jordan will be gone. so thats 3 remaining rbs. wich is what all teams carry anyway. Look, we have our DT in Kelly. I love how everybody is on this “who is Tommy Kelly” campaign, but truth be told he was in the top 5 in the D-lineman FA list rankings but since the Raiders gave him the big contract instead of New England now its considered a terrible move. Had he not gotten hurt, his numbers would’ve been better as well as our run D. If you paid attention you all would realize teams ran up the middle and who was in the middle? Not Kelly. So lets allow Kelly to become a top notch DT the same way Burgess became a top nothch DE. And lets not crucify Sands for one bad year. I for one believe he’ll bounce back. And now that we’re playing guess the jersey # for MacDaddy, I still say he’ll rock #20. 1LUV. YA KNOW?!

  • Quagmire’d

    my vote is for #32.

  • Tommy Trojan

    Projected #s

    Darren McFadden-#32(#5 in college)
    Tyvon Branch-#33(#31 in college)
    Arman Shields-#84(#14 in college)
    Trevor Scott-#99(#89 in college)
    Chaz Schilens-#81(#1 in college)

  • Tommy Trojan

    *barnch was #29 in college

  • Cole Ford

    McFadden is going to wear #49

  • Steve

    Dominic Rhodes has been released…

  • http://ibabuzz.com Raiderkev25

    I think #33 would look great on D-Mac!

  • Tay

    “I’m wondering who Oakland would have taken if someone had jumped up and selected McFadden before they had a chance.”

    I think the Raiders definitely would have traded back and tried to pick up Ryan Clady.

    I dont understand what Kiff mean that it will be harder to make the teams. You care saying the we dont have enough people for a 53 man roster??

  • Tonio

    Rhodes odd man out…and we’re still holding Lamont? .. what’s his cap number I wonder….

  • Tommy Trojan

    no tay, he’s saying now there’s more than enough talent to fill out the 53 and it will be hard to judge which talented players are cut

  • Tay

    The amazing thing is I talk to San Diego & Bronco fans and they all admit the Raiders have had a ridiculous offseason. They seem more impressed with our offseason than most Raider fans I talk to.

    Although the offseason has been incredible, I think the only fumble was letting Clemons walk. I would feel a lot better about the defense if they were able to obtain him.

  • darkknight01

    F DA CHEFS!

    LSU shouldn’t have even been in the title game….and yes they won the title because Ohio St was weak….USC should have been in that title game. We should all know by now that the BCS is complete BS!

  • darkknight01

    Dmac should wear #32 or #23

  • darkknight01

    i graded our draft as a…B….

    we should have picked beay bell or ahtyba rubin….or dre moore….would have been nice to pick erin henderson or drew radovich as well…

  • RaiderBernie

    I’ve been hearing McFadden will be # 20

    # 23 went to D. Hall

    I was hoping for 32

  • http://macblackent@yahoo.com Mac Black (mark Armstead)

    What ever the #s are,
    I see a Bush and DMC Tandom.
    The second comming of Bo and Marcus.

  • Oaktown Raiders

    I say DMC wears #32. The great ones wear this number. OJ wore #32. Go DMC and get the TDs for the Raiders!

  • Oaktown Raiders

    I say #33 for DMC ain’t bad. The #32 was worn by Allen. Gotta give Marcus Allen his due. Sell his Raiders jersey.

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    Koolaid, what the heck are you talking about we lost the coinflip to Atlanta???? We never had a chance.We were never going to win that coinflip. I think it went something like this:

    Cut to Meeting Room in Indianapolis Hilton.

    NFL Exec “ok we have representatives of both the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders. Here we have a coin, heads Atlanta wins, tails, the Raiders lose.”

    Raider Rep,”Oh, NO, you’re not gonna pull that crap…”

    NFL Exec “Tails, Raiders lose.”

  • Noshadowking

    These guys not only looked good getting off the bus, they got off it faster than most. This is funny as hell Jerry

  • Raider4Life

    I must say I am very pleased with the draft

    I admit I was sceptical of McFadden only in the sense that I was trying to be practical. To me trading down and aquiring more picks and players with this years deep draft sounded like the right thing to do, the smart choice due to the bad record and overall talent level, or lack there of from the Raiders.

    What in Tommy Maddux’s name was I thinking?! I absolutely failed to to reach par with Al Davis, Lane Kiffin, or even Rob Ryan which no one fully understands. I pride myself as a knowledgable Raider Nation psycopath and have been correct in most presumptions with what they are doing and the direction they are going on and off the field.

    Plain and simple I got in a rut! I was rocked to sleep by all the negative drama and b.s. and even some very true nightmares we constantly endured over the past 5 years. Then as Madden would yell BOOM! it hit me like Jack Tatum…

    We have a chance to get of the Barret Robins Tijuana Bad News Band Wagon. I got to give it to Al, Kiffin and company. Mixing Darren McFadden in the same backfield as JaMarcus Russell, Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Justin Grifith, and Oren O’neal could be absolutely silly!! The Luckiest team in the NFL could be the one that has the bye week in addition to prepare for all these weapons before they play us. If they can click on all cylinders this could be scary good.

    This is a chance, not at practicality, or to increase the overall talent pool and make a solid working machine, but this is a bold move in greatness! With so much copy cat and parody in the NFL, you can get dragged in the mud with mediocrity. I was probably o.k. with this before but when I think of just how special this could be, to throw any look at the opposing defense and they have to fear so many weapons all game long. Just imagine you are the line backer who doesn’t know if you have to shed a stiff hitting O’neal so you want to get in early and get leverage so that the split second you may have to grab McFadden’s ankle and hope to bring him down before he fly’s by you meaning the quicker you feel the blow from the hit you just took and as you look on from being buried 2 inches in the grass you see Russell still has the ball. You look in the secondary and realize your are not the only one who bit down hard on the fake, then you grab your shoulder to straighten out your pads as you look to see Russell throwing a lazer to Zach Miller 35 yards over the safety’s head who reacted with the linebacker and McFadden and say to yourself mercy. All of their backfield weapons have a chance at being elite with superior skill sets.

    The next few years can be really fun Nation.

    On a side note Iove the picks of Branch, Scott, Shields, and Schilens because the theme is speed. Something you can’t teach and crave to coach.

  • David Densmore

    I do not hate Al Davis, but I think we are all on hallucinatory drugs if we think this team is going anywhere anytime soon. Al Davis, once the self-proclaimed–and perhaps rightly so–”genius” of American pro football, appears to be guessing at everything now in his old age. He can’t pick talent at the coaching level anymore, doesn’t do well in the Draft anymore, and is now taking huge risks by signing damaged free agents like Javon Walker. In addition, he seems to make the same mistakes over and over again, signing super-athletes who can run like the wind but who can’t play football. (Remember James Jett, Derrick Gibson, Rickey Dudley, etc?) The only success this team has enjoyed in the last 25 years is when Jon Gruden ran the West Coast offense, so what did Al do? Got rid of him and scrapped that offense so he could draft big-name athletes who, 50% of the time, will not be with the team in 3 years. I have lost faith in Davis, and he is relentlessly sullying his reputation as one of the best owners in the NFL. If this team were truly a business and Davis answered to a Board of Directors, he would have been fired years ago for ineptitude. Al, if you really love this team, can you please fire yourself?

  • http://ibabuzz.com 4evaRaider

    I was suprised by the release of rhodes instead of jordan.As allready stated in this great blog,jordan will most likly be cut june 1st.We have turned the page and NOW its time 4 greatness 4 our great NATION!GOOO-RAIDERS 10-6 and second round of playoffs,maybe deeper!

  • Steve Duran

    I can’t think of a sports writer or talking head that has taken a single team they owned to the Super Bowl, much less five! How about winning three, no none come to mind. Flat out, Al Davis has more football know how in his little pinky than the whole group combined. Personally, I think Al Davis has finally grown tired of listening to every so called expert that comes down the road and starting last year and continuing this year is just doing it his way. It’s about time and this year every talking head is going to jump on the band wagon when the Raiders are running up and down the field seemingly at will. When the other team makes the mistake of bringing 8, Russel and the new lighting fast receivers are going to ring the bell! After the Raiders score the second touchdown in the first half the other teams will be forced to pass and then it’s game, set, match! Al Davis is the MAN!

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