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Camp analysis: Defensive backs

Eighth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with players reporting to camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: RCB Nnamdi Asomugha, LCB Chris Johnson, SS Tyvon Branch, FS Hiram Eugene. Backups: CB Stanford Routt, S Mike Mitchell, S Michael Huff, Justin Miller, CB John Bowie, CB Jason Horton, CB Darrick Brown, S Jerome Boyd.

If Johnson plays as he did after taking over for much-maligned (and deservedly so) DeAngelo Hall last season, the Raiders may have the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL. Routt appears resigned to being a nickel back and got on Tom Cable’s bad side with some attitude issues so he’ll be watched closely by the coaching staff. Miller stepped in and played decently last season but is primarily a kickoff return specialist. Bowie was beaten often during offseason practices when Asomugha and Johnson didn’t attend OTAs. Huff could be arrested for loitering, given that he is always hanging around where plays are being made but never quite gets in on the action. Horton and Brown are the kind of physical specimens the Raiders love and hope there is a Johnson-type success story in one or both. Boyd is an intriguing conversion project, having played linebacker at Oregon, and caught Cable’s eye during the offseason.

The key battle: Mitchell vs. Eugene. The Raiders want Branch and Mitchell to be their safety tandem of the future, and claim their positions are interchangeable this year from strong to free.

What I think: A good pass rush is always huge with regard to a secondary, but it’s even bigger where the Raiders are concerned considering their play at safeties. They’re expecting big things out of Branch and Mitchell, and bottom line is the former was a fourth-round draft pick who was hurt most of last year and the latter was an out-of-nowhere draft pick that some teams didn’t have on their board until the sixth round or later. A huge gamble, but one that could change the tone of the entire defense if they’re right.

What could go wrong: Mitchell has already had hamstring issues, both in training for his predraft workout and after he joined the Raiders. Johnson was almost too good to be true last year as a 29-year-old first-time starter. If he reverts to journeyman status, it will be a long year opposite Asomugha.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • AZ Raider

    Al gets all the credit and all the hate… Just blame AL Davis :) For the good and the bad ;)

  • Florida Pete

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Pete: you people don’t even believe in Santa Claus!

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    that’ll be 10 cents…

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

  • AZ Raider

    We, the people….

  • RaiderRockstar

    Who gets credit for drafting Stryker Sulak?

    ***

    probably the same scout that Al Davis sent to check out RB Donald Brown of UConn.

    seriously… WHY???

  • AZ Raider

    J

  • Florida Pete

    AZ Raider Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    We, the people….

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    some old guy has the copyright on that one…

  • CantstandtheHaters

    # Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Who gets credit for drafting Stryker Sulak?

    ———-

    the person responsible for his name maybe?

  • lefty12

    just like any draftee,we won’t know if it was a good or bad choice for 3-5 years.those same people who say we have to give Russell time need to also give DHB time.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    T minus two days until the Southwick Era begins. You people prepared?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    BTW, I have trademarked “Southwick Era”, “JaWalrus” and “Football Jesus”.

  • RaiderRockstar

    I have trademarked “Southwick Era”, “JaWalrus”

    ***

    WHAT!?!?

    I thought I started JaWalrus? I want half, sucka! HALF!

  • http://atm Raider O

    If all goes well then:
    1- we have a great QB, who can buy more time with his feet, and has a cannon.
    2- we have 2 good RBs, and both can catch well.
    3- we have a great TE, who can Block and catch, and he’s JR’s fav Target.
    4- we have 4 WRs who can can run, 3 have great size, and the 4th is a great returner.
    5- we have 2 players than can protect JR’s blind side.

  • AZ Raider

    I have the following trademarked:

    “the”
    “if”
    “whenever”
    “and then some”
    “dirty little….”
    “drats!”
    “Am I for real?”
    “water”
    “cha-cha-cha-chia…”

    and….

    “sack”

  • Florida Pete

    lefty12 Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:45 pm
    just like any draftee,we won’t know if it was a good or bad choice for 3-5 years.those same people who say we have to give Russell time need to also give DHB time.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    that would be an excellent arguement for not drafting areceiver at all…

    only first rounders do 5 year contracts…

    everybody else gets 4 years…

    i think…

  • AZ Raider

    QB’s 6?

  • http://atm Raider O

    You all know My trademarks:
    Legalize it!!
    I’m the lion king, and I can to anything!

  • Florida Pete

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    BTW, I have trademarked “Southwick Era”, “JaWalrus” and “Football Jesus”.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    here, i’ll let you have one:

    “Southpark Era”

  • RaiderRockstar

    I thought “Southwick, Inc” was trademarked by Larry King?

    he sort of had his way with the family …

  • http://atm Raider O

    I almost forgot, ” Sir” is another TraderOmark!

  • AZ Raider

    “Southwick’s Error” ? Ehhhhh… i don’t want it.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:55 pm
    I have trademarked “Southwick Era”, “JaWalrus”

    ***

    WHAT!?!?

    I thought I started JaWalrus? I want half, sucka! HALF!

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    There’s more than enough JaWalrus to go around! And yes, you introduced the term. But whaddayaknow, jawalrus.com wasn’t taken and now the hits are piling up…

  • CantstandtheHaters

    forget Southwick. M Vick is fully reinstated by the commish and can participate in any team-activity. Southwick is gone…..

  • RaiderRockstar

    Vick is free!

    now kids can start singing “i wanna be, i wanna be like Mike!”

  • RaiderRockstar

    forget Southwick?

    the QB of the future? you’re funny man!

    I think Vick will replace Jeff Garcia or we’ll possibly carry 4 QB’s into the season again and trade Garcia to a team with an injured QB …

  • http://atm Raider O

    I’m the Larry King, and I can say anything.
    Run!! Come run with my son
    His name is Danny,
    He will kick your fanny

    He was sent on a mission
    God Said: Danny You should listen:
    You will help the nation
    The SB is you destination

    Run!! Come run with my son!

  • Florida Pete

    the vietnamese will never forgive M Vick…

    what with so many starving people in the world…

  • http://atm Raider O

    *your destination

  • HayesDaze37

    Actually…even before a TD is scored by him…we will probably know very quickly if DHB was a good choice. We probably won’t know HOW good for awhile, though. Is DeSean Jackson really as good as last year, or more “right place, right time,” for a rookie on a team without enough good receivers? Is he even better than last year showed, or has he reached his peak? Can he stay healthy, and beat a sophomore jinx?

    DHB shouldn’t need to explode onto the scene like DeSean did, to have a huge impact on this team. Even if he IS the one-note song some think he is, we should be greatly improved with JLH, Schilens, Z. Miller, (and Murphy?) picking apart the middle and sidelines.

    Or, in cases of passes to the RB’s — A Corner AND a Safety covering DHB (or that “#1″ WR) means that DMac and Bush won’t have to deal with them until they’re already deep into the secondary. Then, I’ll put my money on those RB’s.

    DHB’s impact on this team’s Offense will go WAAAAAAAAY beyond his “suspect hands.” One thing NOT supspect is his speed (when healthy)…even if his route-running at this level will be a work in progress. The first time JaMarcus hits DHB for a long TD (soon!?) will send a shiver through all of us — and will tell other DC’s they’ve got a lot more to worry about than in the past few years.

    Everybody starts paying attention to “suspect hands” when those hands are 5-yards behind the opponent’s deepest DB on a regular basis. Even more so, when the guy is big enough and strong enough to go up and get the ball in tough traffic, when he doesn’t out-run his man — and it’s that part that I worry about more than anything else with DHB at this point. How long will it take for DHB to realize he’s as physically-capable and as talented as his opponents?

  • RaiderJohn

    Dear Jamarcus Russell,
    In a year where all the TV analysts are saying this is your make or break season I disagree. Typically the rule is 3 years before the “bust” tag can be applied and your first year didn’t count because of the hold-out. That contract is done, feed and house your family well and give us fan-family what we deserve; A Super Bowl!! Not this year, no pressure but in time? Yes, I believe in you.
    So as a big fan of yours and an active member of the Raider Nation I have to ask you: ARE YOU READY? Are you ready to quiet the critics? Are you ready to handle the media? And most important are you ready to be the LEADER of the Oakland Raiders for the next 15 seasons? In the huddle, in the locker room, off and on the field, down by 7 with 1:32 in the 4th? ARE YOU READY?
    Your skill is a gift, a god-given gift that was given to you for the purpose of winning and entertaining. And you ARE a RAIDER, so let’s do this huh? I don’t know yet if they gave you that right tools to be a true passer with DHB. Khalif Barnes etc..but only time will tell. And Garcia? They just put him there to light your fire. That’s all. You are the starter for now, but listen to Jeff because he has been around the block a few times seeing that he is 39 years old and all. But also know this, you are 24 years old right? You have your whole life ahead of you, don’t you want to go to the hall of fame some day? I think it’s possible but you need to apply yourself as a leader NOW! That’s where it starts.
    While critics say what they say about you, they rarely mention the positive. Never have a seen you blame your WR’s or your O-line men, or slag off your team mates in the media (think Ryan Leaf), You seem to be accountable on the field. Never mind the big arm, that’s just something you already have. You were born to do this.
    This season understand this; our defense against ranks worst against the run, and this will not allow you much time to even be on the field as teams will again know to simply eat up the clock on the Raiders by running the ball over and over. This was not addressed in the off season. The schedule is also VERY difficult. This means that 2-6 by mid-season is very possible. But it won’t be your fault necessarily , the organization is to blame for not putting the right people in place. Garcia will come in, he’ll win a couple games and the analysts will go crazy. Warren Sapp will be beaming with arrogance (even though he praised you a few months ago, what’s wrong with that dude?), and people will say “I told you so” BUT they will be wrong. I know there is greatness in you, I know you are pro-bowl material, and I know you can take US to the Super Bowl.
    So go into this season as the leader of the Oakland Raiders, hold your head up high, get the team to play for you and gather around you and respect you as a LEADER!!

    -A true fan

  • http://atm Raider O

    Hayes,

    I agree with 279.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Mike Vick owes Terrell Owens big time.

    T.O. obviously has the Commisioner’s ear!

    what I think is funny?

    Trent Edwards lobbied for the Bills to sign Owens and now Owens is lobbying for the Bills to sign Vick. LOL!

    the QB/WR relationship is off to a good start, wouldn’t you say ???

  • RaiderRockstar

    Dear Jamarcus Russell,

    stay away from Hometown Buffet

    -A true fan

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    CantstandtheHaters Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 2:06 pm
    forget Southwick. M Vick is fully reinstated by the commish and can participate in any team-activity. Southwick is gone…..

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Are you nuts? What can Vick do that Southwick can’t? Danny ran a 4.45 at the Occidental College pro day. In pads. At altitude. Against a headwind. Barefoot. And his middle name is Usain.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Has Goodell reinstated Cole Ford yet?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Will the Dodgers pick up Steve Howe for the pennant chase?

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    -A true fan

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    If I start using both, it was mine right? Please let it be mine!

    -A true fan

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’d laugh if the Vikings said “so long Brett” and signed Mike Vick today at the vet minimum …

    then they can cut him if he can’t beat out Tarvaris Jackson in camp/preseason

  • CantstandtheHaters

    lol BSJ you forgot to mention he was running with the ball up high and running sideways simulating a rollout the entire forty with a three-step-drop-start instead of the regular starting routine hahaha

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    testing

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    Simon Bruty/SI Darrius Heyward-Bey
    SELECTED BY: Raiders Round 1 (7) SI Grade4.04GRADING SYSTEM

    Position:
    WR Class:
    Junior School:
    Maryland Conference:
    ACC Ht., Wt.:
    6-1.5, 210 40 Time:
    4.35

    BIOGRAPHY: Three-year starter who posted 42/609/5 as a junior. All-Conference and All-America selection as a sophomore after career receiving totals of 51/786/3. Moved into the starting lineup as a freshman and posted 45/694/5.

    POSITIVES: Game-breaking receiver with home run hitting speed. Quickly releases off the line into routes, immediately gets to top speed, and consistently displays the ability to run away from defenders. Can switch it on in one step, displays tremendous quickness in his all-around game, and makes a lot of acrobatic receptions with defenders draped on him. Easily adjusts to the errant throw, displays good eye/hand coordination, and is an agile pass catcher who gets vertical, extends skyward, and then pulls the pass from the air. Plays with good balance, body control, and effectively uses his frame to shield away opponents. Comes back to the quarterback to make himself an available target.

    NEGATIVES: Has a thin frame and may struggle handling jams at the next level. Must give better effort as a blocker. Unnecessarily lets the pass get inside him at times. Was very spotty with his production last season.

    ANALYSIS: Heyward-Bey has all the physical skills necessary to be game-breaking receiver at the next level. He comes off a disappointing junior campaign, yet if Heyward Bey physically matures and continues to develop his game, he will be a productive number one receiver at the next level.

    PROJECTION: First Round
    ……………………………………………….

    More DHB kool-aid

    -A true fan

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    oh yeh, i’m back!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    oh yeh, i’m back

    - A true fan

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    This team doesn’t win more than 5 games in a season until Al Davis is gone.

    - A true fan

  • RaiderRockstar

    welcome back MR!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    It’s so funny hearing Raider fans make fun of the state of other franchises, like the Raiders are on top of the football world.

    - A true fan

  • http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll180/floresrd508/mcfaddenball.jpg SouthTexasRaider

    RAIDER FAHQIN NATION BABY!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Thank you, Rock Star

    - A true fan

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    The Real MaddenRaider Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 2:50 pm
    This team doesn’t win more than 5 games in a season until Al Davis is gone.

    - A true fan

    ………………………………………………

    I hope 9…

    -A true fan