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Position group analysis: Offensive line

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at 11:23 am in Oakland Raiders.

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

Starters: LT Mario Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Cornell Green. Backups: T Khalif Barnes, T-G Erik Pears, G Brandon Rodd, C-G Chris Morris, T-G Langston Walker.

Review: More than the bad publicity from anything that allegedly happened off the field or in a Napa hotel room with Randy Hanson, the play of the Raiders line is the reason why Tom Cable was left twisting in the wind, his job “under evaluation” rather than the sort of backing Rob Ryan got when his demise was supposedly imminent following the 2007 season.

The Raiders ran the ball poorly (21st in rushing) had seven rushing touchdowns (only the Rams and Bucs had fewer) and had the third highest sack total in the league (49) despite ranking 26th in pass attempts (485).

As bad as JaMarcus Russell was, and he deserves much of the blame for his performance, the fact that he was playing behind a line that couldn’t run and couldn’t protect made it unlikely to pull out of his tailspin and contributed to his issues with confidence and accuracy. Things got better when Bruce Gradkowski came aboard, but he couldn’t last the season because of _ you guessed it _ knee injuries sustained against a pass rush.

Cable virtually shoved line coach Jim Michalczik aside for a time attempting to right the ship, to no avail.

It didn’t help matters any Gallery, their best lineman, had a Triple Crown of surgeries (appendectomy, broken fibula, back) and played in only six games.

Henderson started the season OK but regressed as it went along. Green’s hold on right tackle and Cable’s glowing reviews of his play have been a three-year mystery. Morris is suited for short stints of a game or two as a sub at all inside spots but struggles if he starts more than two games in succession. Carlisle was the Raiders best lineman in 2007 but has not approached that level in the past two seasons.

Barnes came to Oakland to jump-start his career but is still waiting by the side of the road, hood open, waiting for a tow truck. Pears did his best work as an emergency tight end in the running game. As for his play on the line, Denver let Pears go last season without tendering him a contract and he did nothing with the Raiders to suggest the Broncos were wrong in their assessment.

Walker was a late-season addition and actually ended up doing some good things as a guard at 362 pounds. Rodd has been a practice squad player.

Contract status: Morris is a restricted free agent, Green and Walker unrestricted free agents.

What’s next: Lots of change, unless Cable is of a mind that he can coach up the same cast and come up with a different result. Good Raiders teams are built along the line, and this was the worst line since the 2006.

You keep Gallery and hope he stays healthy. Every other position ought to be looked at. Draft analyst Mike Mayock thinks the Raiders at No. 8 will come away with one of the four top tackles in the draft _ Oklahoma’s Russell Okung, Oklahoma State’s Trent Williams, Rutgers’ Anthony Davis and Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga.

Maryland’s Bruce Campbell is at this point considered a reach at No. 8, but had a gold medal performance in the Indianapolis Underwear Olympics, (4.78 time in the 40-yard dash, 34 reps with 220 pounds on the bench press). A year ago, his former Terrapins teammate, Darrius Heyward-Bey, was similarly impressive and you know how that turned out.

It remains to be seen whether Cable will strictly adhere to the zone blocking principles he believes in, or if Hue Jackson’s control of the offense as coordinator includes power blocking schemes like the Ravens ran in Baltimore.

The way they chose to attack will determine which players the Raiders pursue in free agency and the draft.

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  • RaiderLen

    SnB, Hackett and Tollner are respected in coaching circles.

    JaMarcus needs to step up HIS commitment, and the Raiders need to provide a Quality O line.

    DHB with hard work, and DMac with health, have the capability to get the Job done.

    But All three need an O line.

  • http://atm Raider O

    The guys wins 2 games then gets hurt, and you are ready to tender him, franchise him, and some are calling him the next Gannon and want to give him multi tear deal.

    Facts:

    -won 2 games and lost 1.
    -he has happy feet like Garcia. He does too much running around even when he doesn’t need to.
    - NOODLE ARM
    - Couldnt stay healthy for an entire season.
    - he was a 6th RD pick who got released from 2 diff teams that need QB.

  • 24

    Cable: “We’ll see” about Javon Walker

    Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on February 28, 2010 3:40 PM ET
    Yes, Javon Walker is still on the Raiders. No, it doesn’t make any sense to carry an expensive player that didn’t have a single catch last season.

    I asked Tom Cable Sunday why Walker couldn’t couldn’t get on the field. Cable spoke about the emergence of Oakland’s young players at wide receiver.

    “Will [Walker] be there next year? We’ll see,” Cable said.

    Logic says Walker will finally get dumped, which will be at least a year too late. Cable’s words appeared to support that notion, we’ve given up applying logic to Oakland’s personnel decisions.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Multi year deal*

    I know JR regressed from last season, but that’s not an excuse to crown a guy like Garbagekowski!

    2-1!!!

    You people….

  • 504 Raider

    Two guys I do not want us to draft:
    Bruce Campbell & Jason Pierre-Paul.

    All the Campbell reels I saw (youtube) had him looking like Kwame Harris. He was getting beat left and right and getting backed into the QB. Could be why DHB had low numbers since their QB has no time to throw. Not that DHB would catch it but you know what I mean.

    Saw an interview with Pierre-Paul and he seems less motivated that Russell. Dude started playing football late in high-school and had to be talked into it. Then a coach he likes is gone and he quits the team. He then had to be talked into playing again.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Walker, Warren, TK, and Fargas should be cut this year!

    Keep TK if he takes a huge pay cut.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Mike Mayock…a guy who called the middling performances turned in by JaDavis, DMAC and DHB said that Campbell’s tape looked “average”

    Then there was consensus that the Raiders might get him.

    Oh well….who are we getting in the 2nd round

  • RaiderLen

    504, Thanks for the input.

    If I get to make the personell decisions, I want guys that live and breath the game.

    Basicly very talented football players that are work- aholichs. :)

  • 504 Raider

    Here’s some down South scoop on JaMarcus. My source got this from Russell mom.

    “JaMarcus knows he must improve now or this is his last year in Oakland. He really likes Hue Jackson and is excited to work with him this year. He feels that he’s gotta show improvement in the first 4 games or he’s getting yanked. He also needs to stop drinking. Dude goes out to dinner in public and would eat steaks, chops, etc. with a big bottle of grey goose in his left hand. He drinks alot more than any of us know.”

  • RaiderLen

    SnB, I respect Mayocks opinion.

    If I get to pick an O lineman at #8 I’d take Williams, but would be happy with Davis.

    I’m assuming Okung will be gone.

    If Campbell is the choice, well at least He DOES have athletisism.

  • http://atm Raider O

    I agree about Jason PP, but I think Campbell will be a solid OT in the NFL.

    D Ware, C Johnson, V Davis, and J Kearse helped their stock with a great combine. I wouldn’t call any of those players a Bust!

    It’s Different with a guy who is projected as a 2nd RD or 2nd day talent, has a great Combine, and then gets drafted high in the 1st. Campbell was one ranked as 1 of the top 5 OTs in this draft, and projected to be a top 15 pick.

  • RaiderLen

    504 Raider Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
    Here’s some down South scoop on JaMarcus. My source got this from Russell mom.

    “JaMarcus knows he must improve now or this is his last year in Oakland. He really likes Hue Jackson and is excited to work with him this year. He feels that he’s gotta show improvement in the first 4 games or he’s getting yanked. He also needs to stop drinking. Dude goes out to dinner in public and would eat steaks, chops, etc. with a big bottle of grey goose in his left hand. He drinks alot more than any of us know.”

    ======================================================

    504, hard to immagine his mother saying this.

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    This is a “Quote” from JaMarcus’ mother?

  • RaiderLen

    new post

  • Chris in NY

    Raider O,

    I don’t think $1 million is too much to pay for a guy who’s almost certainly going to be our starting QB for the majority if not the entire season.

    Who cares where he was drafted? Tom Brady went in the 6th. I believe Gannon went even later.

    His arm isn’t in JaMarcus’ league but it’s adequate. Chad Pennington has had an OK career with a weaker arm. Ditto that for Jeff Garcia. Gannon had an average arm. Gradkowski completes more throws downfield than JaMarcus too because Gradkowski knows when to pull the trigger and puts the ball in the vicinity of his receiver.

    I’d rather have a QB that moves around “too much” (which I don’t even think is true of Gradkowski) than a statue (Collins, Walter) or a guy with ZERO pocket presence who gets hit with 2 sack/fumbles per game (JaMarcus).

    The durability issue is a legitimate concern I suppose. But any player can get injured at any time. Brady sustained a season-ending injury during the first half of the first game in 2008. It’s not like Gradkowski was in and out of the lineup a bunch of times because he kept getting hurt. It was one hit that happened to injure him. And he was talking about getting back out there within a couple of weeks of the injury.

  • DKnight007

    The pick SHOULD be on solid starters and contributors like OT Anthony Davis or Dez Bryant if they can’t get Suh or McCoy.

    But this is the dumb silly old man picking….and the choice will be the classic boom or bust type who is a workout warrior but not a great FOOTBALL player between….Campbell or Pierre-Paul.

    Ugh…the old man Al sucks!

  • 504 Raider

    My source said this stuff, said the part about the drinking because he is real tight with the males in Russell’s family. His mom said the part about Hue Jackson and getting yanked in 4 games if no improvement and last year in Oak if no improvement.

    My source is friend of the family who is a high school classmate of Russell’s mom. He is welcomed at the Russell house in Mobile anytime.

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