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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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  • jhill

    LOL …

    Didn’t see that Ex

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    If Holliday can contribute, even just a little bit, offensively, than he would be worth a 4th round pick, IMO.

    But a tiny, return-guy ONLY, just isn’t worth a 4th rounder, maybe 6th or 7th.

    We need to build those lines remember!!!

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    Are the Lakers going to cover 6 today?

    Denver beat them at home a few weeks ago right? I might roll with the Nuggets and the points.

  • jhill

    I don’t know man.

    If PJ insists on matching up Fisher on Billups then yeah, I’d take Denver and the points.

  • jhill

    How about John Skelton?

    3rd rd pick?

  • Plunketthead

    The State Of The Raiders

    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/state-of-the-raiders-what-the-2009-film-revealed/

    Offense

    It’s simple: this offense had no chance with JaMarcus Russell. He was everything a bad quarterback could be. His pocket awareness was closer to unawareness. When he actually made a decision, it was often wrong or too late. His league-worst 48.8 completion percentage was an adequate illustration of his accuracy. And his accuracy seemed to be slightly better than his leadership and work ethic.

    The Raiders were poorly coached. The receivers were often asked to run deep patterns, which exposed a shaky offensive line. The run game was iffy (Justin Fargas wasn’t regularly on the field; Michael Bush was too slow; and Darren McFadden didn’t show the lateral agility or the physical grit to succeed in the N.F.L.).

    Defense

    Good individual players, but inconsistent cohesiveness. That continued to be the underlying theme for Oakland’s defense. No team asks more of its corners than Oakland’s man-intensive scheme. Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson did a superb job in isolated coverage. Strong safety Tyvon Branch wasn’t bad either. New DE Richard Seymour was fantastic against the run. He also provided the inside pass-rush that Tommy Kelly hasn’t since hurting his knee in 2007. Second-year pro Trevor Scott was the front seven’s most dynamic athlete. His edge quickness and fluidity in space generated a team-best seven sacks. The defense’s greatest flaw was surrendering big plays. A large number of those big plays resulted from poor linebacker play, particularly in the middle, where Kirk Morrison – a master of the half misstep – was once again unimpressive.

  • Plunketthead

    Top 5 Needs

    1. Quarterback

    You don’t get a full appreciation for how bad Russell is until you see this offense operate with fringe backups Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye.

    2. Offensive Tackle

    LT Mario Henderson fluctuates between “young and gifted” and “raw and sloppy” each week. Don’t give up on him yet, but don’t let him get comfortable either. On the right side, free agent Cornell Green competes, but that’s not enough to warrant a new contract

    3. Middle Linebacker

    Oakland fans love Kirk Morrison because he grew up a Raiders fan and they see him as an emerging young player. (Partly because, in this team’s man-based scheme, it’s easy for laymen to spot linebackers making individual tackles.) But the reality is, Morrison is entering his sixth season, and in his five years as the starting middle linebacker, Oakland’s run defense has ranked 25th, 25th, 31st, 31st and 29th.

    4. Pass-Rushing End

    They already have a good young one in Trevor Scott, but they could use another. Having two speedy ends would alleviate the pressure on the corners in man coverage and allow Richard Seymour to operate full-time inside, where he’s at his best.

    5. Center

    The Dolphins traded Samson Satele because they didn’t believe he had enough raw power. The Raiders thought a zone scheme would suit Satele. It hasn’t.

  • 24

    Considering Tom Cable is the Head Coach and we still have the same Offensive Line Coach, we’re sticking with the zone blocking because if we were planning on changing those things, those 2 people would no longer be here.

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    Billups is a tough matchup for everybody.

    With the Nuggets, it always depends on how their bench plays. If JR Smith is putting on his gang-bang 3 point show and the Birdman is flying around, the Nuggets are one of the best teams in the league.

  • jhill

    Vegas,

    What’s holding up things with Bruce? Getting close to the tender deadline, right?

  • jhill

    1 Rams – Bradford
    2 Lions – Okung
    3 Bucs – Suh
    4 Redskins – Davis
    5 Chiefs – Claussen
    6 Seahawks – Berry
    7 Browns – Haden
    8 Raiders – McCoy

  • 24

    JHill – You really think McCoy would fall to 8? I would see a team trading up and taking him before that ever happened.

  • jhill

    Can’t discount another team trading up. But as it stands now, someone is going to fall.

    How do the Rams pass on a QB?

    How do the Lions NOT take a LT to protec Stafford?

    Redskins OL is worse than ours.

    No matter who falls, we are going to get a damn good player at 8.

  • jhill

    Golden Tate … 4.3.

    Uh-oh!

    Mayock calls him the best RAC receiver in the draft, will go get the football, and really strong hands.

  • Nnamdi21

    r8eray Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 7:34 am
    After running a 4.85 40 Campbell went on to rank among the leaders in nearly every athletic category including bench press and vertical jump. Add ideal size at 6′6 314 lbs and 36″ arms and Campbell had Lucas Oil Stadium buzzing about whether he had moved himself into the top 10 (with the Raiders picking eighth he might). While easily the day’s biggest winner, remember the combine is only part of the process and in Campbell’s case his performance was not a big surprise. In Campbell’s case you have to remember the hype is about potential more than production. He has shown to be a good pass protector but with just 17 starts he needs to improve his awareness, technique and consistency. In any case, I see Campbell as a surefire first rounder and likely top 20 selection even if the Raiders pass because of his upside and the number of team’s with left tackle needs.

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

    I’m not sure if there are any plug and play O linemen in this draft.

    They all seem to need polish and work and thats to be expected. Just not sure if Oakland can snag an instant O line contributor and have him play immediately.
    Bulaga seems to have the most complete game and better technique than the lot.

    Trent Williams seems to be a good prospect at RT for us meaning All will take a back up punter with the 8th overall.

  • Nnamdi21

    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 9:05 am
    Golden Tate … 4.3.

    Uh-oh!

    Mayock calls him the best RAC receiver in the draft, will go get the football, and really strong hands.

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

    Already got Higgins.

  • jhill

    Mayock calls him the best RAC receiver in the draft, will go get the football, and really strong hands.

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

    Already got Higgins.

    ——————————————————-

    What part of the above applies to Higgins? Nick Miller is about to take Higgins spot.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    This is the only blog on the internet where someone can get credibility as a Vegas insider by just copying and pasting odds from a Vegas line he has open in another tab.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Be sure and check out East Bay Sick a next Saturday in Alameda, CA. KoolKell’s hood.

    These guys are always a killer show and of course nothing but ladies as far as the eye can see.

    EASTBAYSICK LIVE AT ROOSTERS ROADHOUSE. RAP IS A JOKE!
    Location:1700 CLEMENT AVE ALAMEDA CA 94501
    Time:10:00PM Saturday, March 6th

    eastbaysick.com
    rapisajoke.com

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Let’s hear some early predictions. I’m going with 4-12. And don’t say it’s too early, because you know if you thought the team could win 10 games, you’d say so.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Vegas

    JR Smith couldn’t miss from behind the arc the other night against the Warriors. The Nuggets loook for real!

    The W’s had a decent showing again last night, a nice come from behind victory with 2 of their best players riding the pine in their street clothes.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Dogg, listening to East Bay Sick in another tab. Do they get good turnouts at their shows? Their music isn’t that great. Hyphy beats that are kind of played out, and I’m not exactly impressed with the lyrics.

  • jhill

    11-5!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    11 wins? With our line? With Russell under center?

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    In Eastbaysick’s myspace, in their friend comments, there’s a spice 1 video. Spice 1 has a new album and he’s still trying to do the same gangsta rap he did 20 years ago. how sad.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Madden

    Those videos are pretty low budget and not indicative of how good these cats are. I recommend coming to the show and seeing for yourself. You might just have a good time ;)

    They have some new material that is the best stuff they have done to date. They just wrapped up the Fresh Coast Non Perishables Volume 2 with Tony Madness, Dirtbag Dan, AP9 and Killa Tay among others. These dudes are about to blow up.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Madden

    they do get a decent turn out, mostly women. They filled the Pine Street Grill in Livermore fo all places.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    “of all places” NOT “fo all places”

    fo sho

  • jhill

    The Real MaddenRaider Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    11 wins? With our line? With Russell under center?

    ——————————————————-

    I expect to see at least 2 new starters on the Oline. Walker at RG, and someone other than Green at RT.

    I also expect a really good player at 8, and Al to spend some dough on a FA.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    What 2 o linemen? Do you have names, per chance? I want to know who these two monsters are that are going to pick up the slack for the other 3 girls on that line, and give Russell the 20 seconds per down he’ll need to find someone open.

  • jhill

    GOD forbid Chaz get hurt again this year.

    Murphy
    DHB
    JLH
    Nick Miller
    Todd Watkins

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Does anyone else think Snooki looks Mexican? I keep saying that on other blogs and all of these racist Italians just throw a fit.

  • jhill

    Eisen, Mayock and company just went on record with Campbell to the Raiders at 8, lol!

    Well there’s one of the RMR.

    Bruce Campbell at RT, and Langston Walker at RG.

    Wouldn’t surprise me to see us go get Mawae either.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    JHill, are you ever going to name these two offensive linemen who are going to carry the weight for our entire line and give our QB the 20 seconds he’ll need in our vertical offense?

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Bruce Campbell and Langston Walker? I’m being serious, JHill.

  • jhill

    I’m being serious, JHill.

    ——————————————————-

    LOL!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Obviously, JHill, you know we’re not going to win 11, and that’s why you didn’t take the question seriously. Campbell and Langston. lol.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    My god you guys have to see how pissed these Italians are getting on this other blog I have open. All I did was say that Snooki looks Mexican. Do Italians really hate Mexicans that much?

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    Snookie isn’t even Italian anyways.

    Nice of MTV to bring non-Italians in to furthur stereotype actual Italians.

    Could they get away with that with any other race?

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    What would happen if MTV put on a show of American Africans in a home together at some college, only they brought in a couple of just black guys from Philly who pretended to be African, and played up all the stereotypes?

    That’s what Jersey Shore was for Italians.

  • Seymour Bush

    Say Real MaddenRaider, why don’t you tell us what is GOOD about the Raiders and what they have that is positive?

  • Seymour Bush

    # The Real MaddenRaider Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    My god you guys have to see how pissed these Italians are getting on this other blog I have open. All I did was say that Snooki looks Mexican. Do Italians really hate Mexicans that much?
    ===============================================

    Why do you ALWAYS bring up race in everthing? And BTW, you watch waaaaaaay too much TV and spend the rest of your time on the internet. Shut the screens down dude. Go take a walk. Go to a museum. Shut down the screens. It might make you a lot less crazy.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Priesttj,

    I don’t think Gerard Warren would be a starter on any other NFL team.

    You criticized my opinion that guys like Jerry Porter, Tyler Brayton, Langston Walker and Justin Fargas are not starters. I stand by all that. Just because Jacksonville was equally as stupid doesn’t invalidate anything. By the way, you forgot to add Ron Curry and Terdell Sands. I did’t think those two were starting caliber either.

    I go to the blog to discuss Raider football and discuss its shortcomings. I don’t know why you bother. The sun is always shining with you. THe team is always perfect. What’t to discuss?

    and yes…BJ Raji would have been an infinitely better draft pick than Darius Heyward-Bey!

  • Seymour Bush

    # jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    What part of the above applies to Higgins? Nick Miller is about to take Higgins spot.
    ============================================

    One can only hope.

  • NorthernD

    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 10:02 am
    Eisen, Mayock and company just went on record with Campbell to the Raiders at 8, lol!
    =================================
    I hope they’re wrong on that one. Campbell’s got great numbers but I just see him as lacking the balance and the low center of gravity to get the job done. I much prefer Williams if the Raiders go OT.

  • armond

    vegas are u serious? they have black stereotypes running all over tv and big screen movies for years. u ever heard of minstrel shows? i have no clue why people act like they dont see black stereotypes being thrown around all the time. get a clue.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    vegas raider Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 10:35 am
    What would happen if MTV put on a show of American Africans in a home together at some college, only they brought in a couple of just black guys from Philly who pretended to be African, and played up all the stereotypes?

    That’s what Jersey Shore was for Italians.
    =======================================================
    VR,

    Has there ever been a shortage of t.v shows, books, movies, songs, commentators that disparage African Americans?

  • http://blstb.msn.com/i/55/90A2853B6CFBCC2AFC987BB18B832.jpg vegas raider

    armond Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 10:46 am
    vegas are u serious? they have black stereotypes running all over tv and big screen movies for years.

    ******************************

    Yeah, but they ARE black.

    Snookie ain’t Italian, neither was one other person on there.

    That was my point. Being Italian, if they are going to make fun of Italians, at LEAST BE Italian.

  • armond

    i really dont believe we are taking campbell with all of the other guys better than him.when does al reach when it comes to olineman? i also dont believe he is willing to give up on mario who is a young developing player himself.we are better off fixing the right side of that line and c before LT. we also BETTER feature dmc in the offense now. he touches the ball an average of 7 12 times a game and u wonder why his numbers arent better. we have had the worst oc/playcaller ive ever seen. that damn cable is a bafoon but claims he was at times exceptional. then wants jr to take responsibility, haha!!!

  • Seymour Bush

    I would think we would take Brian Bulaga before we would take Bruce Campbell, even with the Iowa connection. Bulaga is a very good athlete, and plays with a mean streak just like Rob Gallery. Something we need around here.