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Position group analysis: Tight ends

Fourth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with a contingent of scouts and coaches in Indianapolis at the scouting combine:

Starter: Zach Miller. Backups: Tony Stewart, Brandon Myers.

Review: Once upon a time the Raiders being laughed at behind the scenes when they signed Miller, their second round draft pick in 2007. It wasn’t that they’d taken Miller so much as they ended up paying him about a million dollars more than necessary when looking at the way contracts were slotted before and after him.

Turns out it was money well spent.

Miller is proof the Raiders don’t always go for the biggest, fastest and most imposing physical specimen. On this occasion, the Raiders instead went with moderately-sized player who wasn’t a basketball or track star and whose best attribute was finding open areas and catching a football. He’s the anti-Rickey Dudley.

Over the past three seasons, Miller’s receptions have gone from 44 as a rookie to 56 and 66. His yardage has escalated from 444 to 778 to 805. While not a blazer, Miller had a 63-yard touchdown reception in 2008 and an 86-yard catch in 2009. He’s pretty much the only receiver who developed any kind of chemistry with JaMarcus Russell.

If there’s a criticism of Miller it’s that he doesn’t get into the end zone often enough _ seven touchdown receptions among his 166 catches.

Miller’s backup, Tony Stewart is a core special teams player who caught 10 passes for 78 yards and is a physical blocker. Brandon Myers had an excellent training camp and caught four passes for 19 yards. His forced fumble and strip on a kickoff return against Cincinnati set-up a game-winning field goal.

Contract status: All tight ends are under contract.

What’s next: Miller had two concussions last season and missed a game because of his second one. With the NFL paying much closer attention to concussions, the Raiders will be looking hard at young tight ends. Myers also missed time due to a concussion last year.

It may not be someone who plays tight end at the moment _ Al Davis is fond of tinkering with athletes at the position. If Miller can keep his head clear, the Raiders can comfortably experiment with the tight end position in hopes of finding someone unique while at the same time knowing they’ve got a classic, sure-handed tight end on the roster for the next several years.

Contract status:

What’s next:

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • priesttj

    Whattup Lefty12?? I told Pete that Brinkley would go late and he did. There are some very good run stuffers atht’ll be there in late rnds. MLB’s are one of the easiest positions to fill and we’ve always done well with them late in the draft Monte Johnson and Matt Millen were 2′s but everyone else later. If we can get the OT at #8 and Spikes at #8 in the 2nd that would make your draft.

  • lefty12

    that is exactly what I’m talking about!

  • Raiders4eve

    Priesttj

    What do you think about the wide receiver situation? If Schillens gets injured again, aren’t we in need of a 1 WR who can move the chains?

  • priesttj

    You can get Micah in the 5th easy so why pass on a top shelf OT for a run stuffer? even if he’s a Ray Lewis type our safeties are going to make the plays on this defense that’s where if we’re going to be great on defense you’ll see it at the safety spots. We stole T Scott which is critical in this scheme. Branch was a steal and now Huff and Mitchell get a guy wh’s stout in the middle aand the defense is complete.

  • Raiders4eve

    My only worries is that we focus our energy on the line and end up with another Schillens getting injured again with no good replacement, then we back to square one, we need a veteran or talented rookie like Dez Bryant imo.

  • lefty12

    Hey,Priest.I agree.Moving Scott to LB last year was a great move.I’m not saying he’ll be another Hendricks but he can be like him.He is quick enough and can play up or down.I agree the Def. isn’t that big of a concern,but the Off. is.We have got to be able to score-something we haven’t been able to do in quite awhile.

  • http://atm Raider O

    McClain is 6’4, 255+, runs a sub 4.6, plays sideline to sideline, he is smart and was TC, and he is 20!!

    Draft Him Al!!

  • priesttj

    The WR’s are scary IMO Murphy is the key if he can continue to develope it takes a lot of heat off DHB and Chaz. I believe Murphy can be a go to guy. Chaz already is IMO now you have to deal with DHB straight up one on one and no one can do that with his speed. Once he relaxes and starts to get confident it’s OVER!!

    There is nothing like “absolute speed” and he has it. When he starts to make plays the defense is incapable of covering it. We never saw that last year due to the obvious reasons. That’s why Jackson is here.

    That is also why I hope Russell developes because he makes the speed effective if he can get enough confidence to play even we are on our way and it wnt be long before we are a nightmare to deal with.

    factor in DMC in the passing game as well as Nick Miller or Watkins.

    But the key is Murphy he has to become a go to guy he and Chaz that would makle DHB the most dangerous player on the team.

  • lefty12

    We can also pick up a good possession WR later.We got Murphy later last year.We shouldn’t give up on Higgins.We have Miller who looked good last preseason before the injury ended his year,and despite what everyone thinks,we have DHB who should be much better in his 2nd year.By all accounts he is a hard worker and he won’t have the rookie jitters.

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, that’s why in my prayers I add Russell he is one of the most gifted QB’s I’ve ever seen. If somehow he gets it we are one of the more dominant teams in this league.

    I know you don’t except that but the other guy’s are just stopgaps we need a top teir talent at that position. Or this doesn’t work. We’ll have to wait until Andrew Luck comes out of Stanford. Russell had got to get it together, he has to. Or we are sunk………..period

  • Raiders4eve

    Priesttj

    Watkins won’t get resigned I guarantee you that, if Schillens gets injured and DHB struggles, we are back to square one except with a solid line but defenses would probably stack the box cause our passing game would be out of the question. Nick Miller is solid but he is coming back from injury that took away a year from his learning curve, Murphy and Miller would get doubled just like what happened this season. This why I think we Dez Bryant, a guy better then Craptree who can come in and do wonders.

  • priesttj

    There are some very impressive WR’s available late. I saw this kid from Southern named Stewart, man I like this kid a lot he is smooth great route runner and great hands. WR’s are very easy to draft if you know what you want.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    # Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Cut Brandon Meyers.

    # RaiderRockstar Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    who is Brandon Meyers?

    # Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Myers.

    What are you, LMN now?
    __________________________________________________

    Bwahahahhahaa, Classic, great to be appreciated….

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    yo Vegas…

    I like your posts, but maaaan they are hard to read…

  • priesttj

    Dez Bryant wont be there if he is there are some very stupid GM’s Dez might be the best player at any position. He’s not as physically gifted as was Calvin Johnson but he’s a better player.

  • Raiders4eve

    Priesttj

    So would you like Dez Bryant if he falls as our 8th overall pick?

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    # Raider O Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    McClain is 6′4, 255+, runs a sub 4.6, plays sideline to sideline, he is smart and was TC, and he is 20!!

    Draft Him Al!!
    _______________________________________________________

    read this, he DOESNT run sideline to sideline..

    —”Alabama ILB Rolando McClain is reportedly not even in the top 32 on some teams’ draft boards.McClain’s speed and agility testing will be key because it’s believed he may not run better than 4.7 in the forty. 4-3 teams want middle linebackers to have sideline-to-sideline range. McClain may be billed strictly as a 3-4 inside ‘backer if he doesn’t excel in movement drills over the weekend”—

    we play mostly 4-3 so his speed is much more important, I would love some of his nature, and i would love to switch permanently to 3-4…. then he would be a great pick… but still with the 8th pick or what is we have??? nah rather get a OT, and then a MLB/ILB in the 2nd round… WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR QB!!

  • lefty12

    I actually read something earlier tonight that gives me a glimpse of hope concerning JR.It was an article that said he would work,but he needed a hard ass to make him do it and that H.Jackson is a hard ass so we shall see.However,i do believe many undersell Gradkowski.Like Gannon, who many consider the last good Raider QB,he was written off by many as just a journeyman QB before he was given the reins by us and took off-except I actually think he could be better than Gannon.

  • priesttj

    In a NY second…………I would take him over any position or player……..period

    If we can get the OT in the 2nd rnd and steal Dez Bryant I would do cartwheels down 880 freeway buttnecked and smiling!!!

  • http://atm Raider O

    Trade our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to move up to draft McClain.

    1- OT Okung, A Davis, Or B Campbell
    1- (from Trade): ILB MCCLAIN
    3- DE Austen Lane
    5- CB Walter Thurmond
    7- DT Demarcus Granger if Available, Kade Weston, or Travis Ivey.

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, what makes you say that? what in his game makes you say he could be better than Gannon?

    Enlighten me.

  • Raiders4eve

    Lol

  • lefty12

    With 2 3rds and 2 5ths you know there will be some moves somewhere but who knows where.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    Raider O…

    you’re crazy

  • lefty12

    I just think he could be better-a gut feeling if you will.He set passing records in a passing conference in college,he is a student,and his arm is just as good if not better.As i say,a gut feeling.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra
  • http://atm Raider O

    LMN,

    He runs well, and from what I watched, he runs SIDELINE TO SIDELINE!

    Daft McClain!! Draft an OT, but trade up and Draft McClain too!

    MCCLAIN!!

  • RaiderDebo

    priesttj Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:45 pm
    In a NY second…………I would take him over any position or player……..period

    If we can get the OT in the 2nd rnd and steal Dez Bryant I would do cartwheels down 880 freeway buttnecked and smiling!!!
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    LOL! Agreed Priest.

  • priesttj

    I’ll tell you who reminds me of Gannon, it’s the Oklahma QB Bradford. Gradkowski is a fiery guy who competes but is very short on talent. He can scramble and make some plays but when defenses start to key him and gameplan him you’ll they will just rush in his face and force him to make stick throws and he can’t.

    I’m not saying he can’t play at this level but he just can’t get it done 16 weeks a year his arm isn’t strong enough and he’s to small. People compare him to Brees that is a joke Brees has a gun and is extremely accurate all ways has been. Brees’s hieght is a problem smeimes but he is so freakin’ smart he counteracts it.

  • lefty12

    I also like his fiery attitude and the way he is able to get his teammates to rally around him.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    raider o…

    he might be able to run s2s in college, i doubt he will be able to do that in the pros

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    priest and his alterego agrees, what a surprise LOL

  • lefty12

    I could be totally wrong but as I said I just have a feeling about him.I realize he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the optimum size,but I believe he has ‘it’-whatever it is.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    lefty12…

    well Gruden loved the kid as well, and Gruden loved Gannon… I see your point, and i dont mind him drive the car for a few years while we find something that suits us better…

    Jammy isnt IT, thats evident, more evident than that GRAD ISNT it…

  • priesttj

    Passing records in College is fool’s gold if you don’t take into account how they were achieved. The garbage pale is overflowing with guy’s that did that because they were in conferences where the DB’s can’t cover. If he did that at LSU r USC or Texas where there are great defenses I’d be more impressed. Russell completed 68% of his passes at LSU and dominated that league. Elway dominated the Pac10 Stafford the SEC. These cllege QB in the spread throw to designated spots which makes it much easier to get great stats.

    You have to look at how he did what he did. I’ve seen the kid Grads play OK but when he’s pressed he ytends to take some chances that his arm wont allow. Pittsburgh was is best game and their secondary was atrocious. Dallas made him loook very weak. Cincinati made him look bad. And the Redskins beat him up.

    I honestly think it is the anyone but Russell syndrome that makes people hope for these guy’s but the talent level isn’t even close it’s almost ridiculous. Once Russell matures there isn’t much he cannot do. If anything.

  • RaiderDebo

    lefty12 Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 11:53 pm
    I just think he could be better-a gut feeling if you will.He set passing records in a passing conference in college,he is a student,and his arm is just as good if not better.As i say,a gut feeling.
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    I don’t hate Grads. He’s a good guy and he supports JR. Played pretty well in spots. But I don’t like comparisons to Gannon. Gannon had a much better pedigree than Grads. He was a starter for Minn and had them at 10 wins before he was inexplicably benched by Denny Green for Sean Salisbury. I always thought he was pretty good as a starter there. And the guy was nails in KC. I’m from Kansas and I remember him really kicking ass there and leading the team to the playoffs. But Elvis Grbac came back from his injury and Marty decided to start him instead of Gannon in the playoffs. Everybody in the state wanted to burn Marty at the stake for that one. Except for me that is. And of couse they lost. I guess that’s a long way of saying that Grads hasn’t accomplish anything close to what Gannon did. Won’t be too excited about the season if he’s the starter.

  • priesttj

    Like I said Debo, it’s the anyone but Russell syndrome. If you really look at last year when Russell had talent around him he played OK but TWO ROOKIES that is the most ludicrous position to put a young QB in and expect him to win.

    Put some talent around this kid and he will win and win big I gaurantee it. I watched this kid compete at every level he was a star and he’ll be one at this level if we get him the right talent instead of that garbage he played with last year.

  • RaiderDebo

    I honestly think it is the anyone but Russell syndrome that makes people hope for these guy’s but the talent level isn’t even close it’s almost ridiculous. Once Russell matures there isn’t much he cannot do. If anything
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Well said Priest. Talent will win out here.

  • lefty12

    Priest,there are also many guys who have superior natural ability who never amount to anything.some guys over preform;some under preform.I refuse to get into that discussion again since i know how we both feel.Gradkowski is 6’1″ and weighs 220.That is big enough to play in this league.You have an opinion about him and I disagree,just as as of now our opinions of JR are totally different.Lets let it rest at that.

  • RaiderDebo

    priesttj Says:
    February 27th, 2010 at 12:19 am
    Like I said Debo, it’s the anyone but Russell syndrome. If you really look at last year when Russell had talent around him he played OK but TWO ROOKIES that is the most ludicrous position to put a young QB in and expect him to win.

    Put some talent around this kid and he will win and win big I gaurantee it. I watched this kid compete at every level he was a star and he’ll be one at this level if we get him the right talent instead of that garbage he played with last year.
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    No kidding. And he still has managed to pull out victories. The last drive against KC with that supporting cast was a hell of a lot more impressive than he’s been given credit for. All the draft busts that he’s compared to haven’t had the comeback wins that JR has engineered.

  • lefty12

    Gradkowski has never played with decent talent around him so it is really impossible to say what he can or can’t do.TB sucked when he was there(actually over preformed) and we aren’t world beaters either.I don’t care that you don’t like him,as i said,I have a feeling he will turn out to be pretty good-just as you believe JR will someday live up to his hype.

  • lefty12

    later.

  • RaiderDebo

    lefty12 Says:
    February 27th, 2010 at 12:26 am
    Gradkowski has never played with decent talent around him so it is really impossible to say what he can or can’t do.TB sucked when he was there(actually over preformed
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Dude, let’s not re-write history here. Tampa Bay was pretty good under Gruden. In fact, the Bucs were a game away from the playoffs until JR crushed their dreams week 17, 2008.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Good night Gents, and it was nice to see you posting again LMN. Your new lady friend must be takning all your time. lol

  • lefty12

    BTW,every QB in the NFL starred at every previous level they played.So did all the guys who were drafted high and failed.Now,later.

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, I think you’re right but my premise is that Russell will live up to his talent maybe not when we want him to but he will, he always has. That kid has a lot more pride than anyone is willing believe.

    One thing I know about players that love to play they will do anything to get back on the field. You can take all his money but when they took the all away from him that got his attention. The same thing happened at LSU when they gave the job to Flynn in the spring by season start Russell had won the job back.

    Player want to play that is all that kid knows he doesn’t know antything else but playing QB. He will fight until he wins that job back you just wait and see.

  • lefty12

    Priest as long as he wears silver and black,I hope so.You know I want any player on our team to succeed.I just have doubts it will happen.
    Debo-no need to rewrite anything.In 2008 TB was 9-3 and plunged to 9-7.Good teams don’t do that.In 06 he was a rookie.In 07 a 2nd year back-up with no experience.

  • lefty12

    Besides,Gradkowski played in Cleveland in 2008,not TB.Are you going to say they were a decent team?

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    So what, stevealford, just because YOU address the offensive line in your stupid fantasy draft means Al Davis is going to? Let me know if anyone has a realistic response to my comment.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Lefty, moving Scott to linebacker was a great move? Yeh, our defense shot right up to the top 10, didn’t it? We haven’t made a great move since signing Jerry Rice, at least where results are concerned. Do you ever read your own comments?