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Draft wrap

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, April 28th, 2008 at 11:40 am in Oakland Raiders.

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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  • Ryan

    What is DMAC going to have for a number? 32?

  • Florida Pete

    present

  • Thec

    WHAT up?????

  • http://none raiderfan

    Jerry,

    Its been fun reading your blogs this off season leading up to the draft, and that includes the THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of comments from the rest of you fellow bloggers, so with that said,,,

    I wanted C. Long. On saturday when C. Long went to St. Louis, I was already sauced on Petron, so while not thinking clearly I was upset that the Raiders didn’t take G.Dorsey. I cant stand that opposing teams have pillaged the Raiders on the ground these past 5 or so years, and folks can spin it any way they want to but our run D has sucked.

    Still and all, DMAC is a weapon. I trust Lane Kiffin to get the most out of the new playmakers on the squad. I don’t have to regurgitate his USC tenure do I? Last year imo, on balance, including his own rookie head coaching mistakes, he got the most out of what he was working with on offense.

    Welcome to the team DMAC. I have no doubt you will add to this team in a positive fashion, and that Lane will give you every opportunity to flourish ala Reggie Bush. I dream that one day, Darren McFadden will be talked about by Raiderfans in the debate as to who is the greatest ever running back for the Oakland Raiders!

    Keep on keepin on Jerry and fellow Raiderfanatics…

  • darkknight01

    i think Dmac should wear #32 or #23. Both equal #5 his old #.

    By the way did I mention that DMAC went RUN DMC all over some your guys boy Glen Dorsey in the LSU game…on LSU’s home field! Lol

  • Kirk

    Darknight,

    But didn’t LSU win the championship?

  • http://none raiderfan

    Darkknight01,

    I’m hoping DMAC goes RUN DMC twice a year now with the Raiders against the Dorsey and the Chiefs!

  • WashingtonRaider

    thanks for the update Jmac
    -WR

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    # Coach on Wheels Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    The more I see the more I’m warming uo to the DMAC pick and here’s why -

    I think Kiffin is a young inexperienced coach but has a future if given a chance. He is smart enough to bring in quality guys like Gnapp and Cable without feeling intimidated. He knows talent as it relates to scheme.

    Case in point – He brought in McCown to manage games so the running game and D could win them. This was a spot-on evaluation. McCown threw ZERO INT’s when we had a lead and only 2 when tied. Even when he is “making due” with a guy like JM he understands their capabilities.

    Kiffin is the young coach who could grow with our young QB and team.

    Where does DMAC fit in?

    Kiffin is saddled with the Ryan / Davis defense. To save his job he needs to score so many points they either win or there is no way he can be blamed. “Just give us 17″? Screw that! Run up a minimum of 27 and pray Ryan and the D can make a stop.

    Ryan won’t stop the run? Score so many points most opponents will lose patience and abandon it on their own. The additions to the secondary seem in line with that plan.

    ………

    Come on, Wheels. Not you too… Who got to you? Don’t let these guys push you around. You were dead on last night. Now, you’re signing on to the Davis kool aid approach that it’s all on Kiffin? Shootout football is for college. It’s all about balance in the NFL, and any team trying to suffice for a bad defense by attempting to run up the score (which doesn’t work in itself in most cases, as scoring in the NFL is harder than it looks…) is doomed to fail…that includes the 2008 Raiders. We’re already going into the ’08 season with a losing philosophy. You guys want to find optimism in that? Be my guest. I’ll be here to console you in October when we’re already in the tank.

  • LosT

    MONTE JUNIOR adds to the offense (which he runs).

    Doesnt help the run defense (which Ryan runs). After the 08 season he will be able to go to Al and say, “see we need to get rid of Ryan”…Pure Genius!

    At least the season will be fun with scores of 35 – 40…

  • Tommy Trojan

    wow, jerry REALLY did not like this draft………

  • Michael

    Jerry, great coverage on the draft. Keep up the good work.

    Your daily updates are sometimes the highlight of my day. Good for you. Sad for me..

  • 3 Trophies

    I guess we could have drafted Chris Long, Dmac and Dorsey in the first three rounds and Mr. Phony Whiner Fraud boy would still find a way to be down on the Raiders and Al Davis. Cody Wallace, and Reggie Smith. looking good fraud boy.

  • Tommy Trojan

    well, the eagles got adarius bowman and the rams got vince hall but tommy blake is STILL available…………we should be doing everything possible to bring this guy in

  • Bernard Petrino

    Our primary run stopper is still Terdell Sands. The Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers all still love to run the ball. Denver found a good system back in the 4th round with Ryan Torain. Zone blocking doesn’t need a track star running back like McFadden. Davis is still running the team, and it appears he is running it into the ground.

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    “3 technique”…LOL. Only Raider fans.

    Judging by how bad our run defense is, I’d have to call Kelly a “zero technique”.

  • Bernard Petrino

    Tommy Trojan, Jerry is just pointing out that this draft is another one of Davis’ mindless “Draft on 40 times” drafts.

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    What’s the only thing worse than being an Al Davis shill??? Being a SF Phony Whiner shill.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Well, something must have happened. the odds makers had the Raiders at 100 to 1 to win the SB, now they stand at a mere 60 to 1

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Where does anyone get the idea that Rob Ryan is running our defense? Rob Ryan was schooled under Belichick’s 3-4 zone scheme, yet here in Oakland, he’s running a 4-3 man scheme, the same scheme Al Davis has sworn by his entire glory mongering tenure as a GM. The kool aid’s flowing today. Grab your cups….

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Kelly is good when he wants to give the effort. It’s Turd that spent 7 years on the bench before last year. He is the stinker of that group, no pun intended.

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    We’re going to kick butt!!

    We have a 3 technique defensive lineman!

    A 3 technique!!!

    LOL.

  • Bernard Petrino

    Committee, most people are drunk on kool aid because they saw a DMAC youtube clip.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    When Ryan came to Oakland, I assumed he would implement a 3-4 which he tried and it didn’t suit Sapp

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    I demand a Budweiser commercial ripping Raider fans and their “3 technique” talk.

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Sure, Gnarley. It didn’t suit Sapp….Kook Aid’s tasting good, isn’t it?

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Al Davis is a 19-61 technique…

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Kelly is good when he wants to give the effort…

    Wow. There’s a ringing endorsement to make a guy the highest paid DT in NFL history!

    He’s good….only when he wants to give the effort…

    Thanks.

    I’ll take tropical punch flavor, btw…

  • R8R_ERN

    In 10 years we will all be eating way too much fiber and talking about Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, and Darren McFadden, while the new kid is running the show.

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Who is dakota, and what did I bet him at? I see the Kool Aid is making people hallucinate, as well.

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    R8R_ERN has just compared McFadden to Bo Jackson, people. I don’t know if even kool aid can make someone that crazy…

  • LosT

    “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.”

    Jared Allen was drafted as a long-snapper…

  • Bernard Petrino

    in 10 years, McFadden will have been out of the NFL for 5 or 6 years.

  • Bernard Petrino

    he also compared McFadden to HOFer Marcus.

  • Ghost2Post

    When he was in college I hated Marcus Allen, BUT when he was drafted by the Raiders he was my mine man. So welcome Mcfadden and get to work!

  • http://www.AlDavisSucks.com The Committee

    Oh, I can’t wait until the Raiders actually build winning teams again, as opposed to picking mediocre players that fit this phony mystique. I don’t wish death on people…but let’s fact. Al kicks the bucket, the Raiders improve by default.

  • Native

    It’s not Kiffins fault that Davis was on meds that made him hallucinate and since trading Chucky stuck his head in the sand and believed he could win with Calla. Norvel and Shell 1.1! As great as Madden was he only won 1 Super Bowl! Anyhow now-days you have to be awarded a SuperBowl so good look AL getting a gift from the NFL!
    If they stick to the plan of rewarding teams with new stadiums look for Dallas to win this year even with a Crapy secondary!

  • Cho-Be

    McFadden jersey are gonna be the hottest selling jersey this year. Just watch!

  • Tommy Trojan

    AFC West Offense Position Rankings

    QB
    I’d like to think:
    1.Russell OAK
    2.Rivers SD
    3.Cutler DEN
    4.Croyle KC
    Which is probably true, but we don’t know enough about any of these guys to make a true breakdown.
    At worst it’s:
    1.Rivers SD
    2.Russell OAK
    3.Cutler DEN
    4.Croyle KC

    RB
    1.Tomlinson SD
    2.McFadden OAK
    3.Johnson KC
    4.Henry DEN

    FB
    1.Griffith OAK
    2.Hillis DEN
    3.Hester SD
    4.Hoyte KC

    TE
    1.Gates SD
    2.Gonzalez KC
    3.Miller OAK
    4.Graham DEN
    Of course you could argue:
    1.Gates SD
    2.Miller OAK
    3.Gonzalez KC
    4.Graham DEN

    WR1
    1.Chris Chambers SD
    2.Brandon Marshall DEN
    3.Dwayne Bowe KC
    4.Javon Walker OAK

    WR2
    1.Ronald Curry OAK
    2.V.Jackson SD
    3.D.Jackson DEN
    4.Darling KC

    WR3
    1.Stokley DEN
    2.Carter OAK
    3.Davis SD
    4.Webb KC

    LT
    1.McNeill SD
    2.Clady DEN
    3.Albert KC
    4.Harris OAK

    LG
    1.Dielman SD
    2.Waters KC
    3.Gallery OAK
    4.Kuper DEN

    C
    1.Hardwick SD
    2.Wade OAK
    3.Weigmann DEN
    4.Niswanger KC

    RG
    1.Carlisle OAK
    2.Goff SD
    3.Holland DEN
    4.Jones KC

    RT
    1.Green OAK
    2.Clary SD
    3.Pears DEN
    4.Taylor KC

  • Dakota

    I Fed-Exed McDadden 300 condoms today…that should get him through the rookie camp in May.

  • El Dirty

    u know what we should have won more games last year but the more I think about the draft and FA pick ups we ARE going to be good next year you guys got used to losing get on my Kool-Aid its better

  • Tommy Trojan

    AFC West Offensive Position Ranking Averages

    SD-1.66
    OAK-2.08
    DEN-2.83
    KC-3.42

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Wel, I really wanted C.Long but this is looking good.
    We can use McFadden/Fargas/Bush for sure. Fargas will just wear them down and Bush should be great on third and short and then there’s the McFadden element. The guy threw seven touchdowns at Arkansas. Kiffin is going to have fun with this group. Since Chris Carr is gone, Rhodes can prove himself on kick-off returns.
    And then there’s Aso/Hall/Wilson/Huff!
    During the draft, the San Diego Union was predicting that the Raiders would finish second in the division. Maybe we’ll suprise them.

    GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tommy Trojan

    maybe i should weight certain positions………

  • Tommy Trojan

    I have 12 positions listed, I’ll rank them in terms of importance and then find the averages.

    QB-12
    LT-11
    RT-10
    WR1-9
    RB-8
    C-7
    LG-6
    RG-5
    WR2-4
    TE-3
    FB-2
    WR-3

    anyone see any problems with this weighting system?

  • Tommy Trojan

    that should say

    *WR3-1

  • Thec

    Hardwick the discharger C is hurt and rehabing. H ewill be out the first few game his year depending on his reco time. Jury out on the center position otherwise argeeable.

  • Tommy Trojan

    or perhaps I’ll assign “madden” style ratings to each player…….that’s simpler and easier to understand……..or maybe I’ll do both

  • El Davis- Kool Aid King

    Jump on the wagon boys, Im taking you to the Super Bowl by year 2.
    We kick azz this year in the WEST.

  • Ghost2Post

    Here are the free agents we signed.
    UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS:

    LB Shane Simmons, Western Washington
    OC Adam Spieker, Missouri
    RB Louis Rankin, Washington
    OL Brandon Rodd, Arizona State
    FB Matt Hahn, Penn State
    LB Malik Jackson, Louisville