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Position group analysis: Offensive line

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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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • jhill

    But I thought there was no way in h*ll that the Raiders would draft D-HB. But measurables ruled that day in a big way…..

    ——————————————————-

    The minute DHB ran that time last year, I said I’d take him over Crabtree, Maclin, and the others. Aside from the hands issue (I know, I know), the pick made perfect sense. We needed a WR, and we already had a possesion guy in Chaz, and the slot guy in JLH. You can KINDA see where Al was going with that.

    But Campbell’s HWS doesn’t come into play unless it comes down to the 3rd or 4th guy at the position. I’d bet he reaches for Iupati over Campbell, but I don’t think he’ll pass up guys like McCoy, Davis, Morgan, or Pierr Paul. Even McClain.

  • NorthernD

    SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:33 am
    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:28 am
    The took Cherilus in the lst round in 08 and no one can seem to beat out Jeff Backus on the left side,

    ——————————————————-

    Gotcha.

    Then that would drop Okung or Davis to us.
    =====================================================
    Bruce Campbell….your setting yourself up JHill. Maybe I am still seeing red from last year. But I thought there was no way in h*ll that the Raiders would draft D-HB. But measurables ruled that day in a big way…..

    I see it happening again.
    ===========================================
    Armond made a point that Al doesn’t select O-linemen based on HWS. That’s a good point. The Raiders have passed on some monsters in the draft. Some guys who were huge and fast. I don’t think measurables apply as much to the blockers as they do to other positions. Perhaps nastiness is a more common trait to his picks than HWS.

  • jhill

    Chris,

    His very next point talks about how the coaching called for too many deep routes and exposed the Oline. Just amazing how that is not factored in when talking about Russell by some of you.

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

    The last thing I want to see is the Chargers with Gerhardt.

  • armond

    seymour should play majority snaps inside and get a speed rusher to take advantage of all those double and triple teams. a guy i ilke is graham from michigan. he plays the run well can finish the play and has a huge motor. a 3 down lineman who can disrupt plays from the edge is a huge need.

  • NorthernD

    Gerhardt to the Chargers makes a lotta sense.

  • NorthernD

    Like Natrone Means.

  • Chris in NY

    Jhill,
    I appreciate you sticking your neck out there on the DHB pick, but that pick made no sense at the time or now. Sure, he’s great on the track, but his game speed was not at all impressive and not only does he drop a ton of passes, but his unsure hands slow him down because he has such a hard time securing anything thrown to him.

    Who knows. DHB still has plenty of time to prove himself. But he needs dramatic, dramatic improvement in his football skills. There’s a chance he becomes good or even great, but I think it’s very slim.

    Should’ve built up the trenches last year. Could’ve had a real shot at the best player in this year’s draft — Dez Bryant. Mark my words: Dez Bryant is going to be the best WR to come out of college since Andre Johnson.

  • jhill

    armond Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    seymour should play majority snaps inside and get a speed rusher to take advantage of all those double and triple teams.

    ——————————————————-

    Which is why I say don’t discount Morgan or Pierr Paul at 8. Better option than the #4 OT on the board.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    vegas raider Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:44 am
    The last thing I want to see is the Chargers with Gerhardt.
    ======================================================
    Our biggest issues are internal right now. What some other team does is not the big issue to the Raiders demise.

    Until the Raiders figure out the basics of blocking, tackling, throwing and catching…it matters little what the opponent does

  • Seymour Bush

    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    But I thought there was no way in h*ll that the Raiders would draft D-HB. But measurables ruled that day in a big way…..

    ——————————————————-

    The minute DHB ran that time last year, I said I’d take him over Crabtree, Maclin, and the others. Aside from the hands issue (I know, I know), the pick made perfect sense. We needed a WR, and we already had a possesion guy in Chaz, and the slot guy in JLH. You can KINDA see where Al was going with that.
    =======================================================

    That is exactly right. And WHO is the 6’2″, 220, 4.25 major conference receiver in this draft? That’s right. There isn’t one. Crabtree is a 6′, 210, possession guy with excellent hands. Chaz is a 6’4″ 225 lb guy who is much faster, playing our possession spot. Didn’t need another possession guy.

  • jhill

    Don’t get me wrong, Chris …

    I didn’t want a WR at 8. Just saying that IF we took a WR, I thought 6’2 215 and that 40 times sounded good to me. He was already a 1st rd prospect and I NEVER imagined the hands being as bad as they were. My thinking was how could a WR who couldn’t catch be rated as a 1st or 2nd rd pick?

    I wanted Mack until we traded for Satele, then it was Maulauga for me.

  • armond

    the eagles may take toby but the chargers will definately look at him.it means we better get some damn physical lbs to tackle him cuaz he aint getting past san diego after the 2nd rnd if we dont get him first.i just wonder what big fa will big al go after. we need to get some fbs in here. if reece can show anything as a blocker he has a shot to lock up 1 of 2 spots.

  • jhill

    SD already has Hester …

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Chris in NY Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:47 am
    Jhill,

    Should’ve built up the trenches last year. Could’ve had a real shot at the best player in this year’s draft — Dez Bryant. Mark my words: Dez Bryant is going to be the best WR to come out of college since Andre Johnson.
    =======================================================
    Yes, should have grabbed an O-Lineman or Raji. These bad picks hits us twice. Now we have to pass up good running backs, receivers, QBs and others when the Raiders make these bad decisions. And all the while, critical positions continue to go ignored

  • jhill

    I also wanted Orakpo. Theme being an impact player for the front 7 regardless of position. With Seymour on deck, I think we need some speed along the Dline.

    I really want to see the LBs run. If McClain or Spike light it up, then maybe they sneak up. But Morgan or Pierre really have my interest peaked.

  • http://atm Raider O

    O Mock Draft 7.5:

    1- OT Williams , Davis, or Campbell
    2- ILB Spikes
    3- DT Cam Thomas
    3- WR/ KR Jacoby Ford
    4- DE Austen Lane
    5- OG: M Johnson, JJ, or Ciron Black
    5- CB Walter Thurmond
    7- DT Demarcus Granger

    I like Suh & McCoy a lot, but we have Seymour who they remind me of. We need an OT to compete with Mario, and a RT!

    Suh, McCoy, Okung, Williams, Davis, Campbell, McClain, or Haden!!

  • armond

    now pierre paul would be a reach imo. brandon graham is a better player than he is and i feel alot of people are sleeping on him right now. i think he will shoot up the draft boards in a few weeks when people really look at how well rounded his game is. holliday might be a good choice in the mid rounds cuz jlh plays scared and nmiller hasnt proven anything yet. it would help if we could sign atleast one really good olineman in fa in the next few weeks. maybe we can get yanda or somebody on that right side.

  • Chris in NY

    The Raiders need to find a good QB more than anything. Who have we had since Gannon: Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper and JaMarcus. Collins was mediocre but Norv was uninspiring as HC to say the least. The rest of those guys pretty much doomed this team over the last 8 seasons.

    Maybe Gradkowski can be that guy. Mike Vick, Jeff Garcia and Drew Brees all come to mind as guys Gradkowski’s height or smaller who have had success in this league.

    As far as the draft, one guy I could see the Raiders snagging who looks like a damn interesting prospect is QB John Skelton from Fordham. Kid is 6-5, 250 a cannon for an arm and quite mobile for his size. He might have more upside than any QB prospect in this draft. The main knock is the level of competition he face in college. But the same was said of Joe Flacco and he went Round 1. Skelton could be had with one of our 3rd-round picks or later.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Here’s the problem with DHB. The kid can’t catch the freekn ball! If DHB was a 3rd or 4th round pick, then that’s fine. But a 1st round guy is expected to get on the field and contribute. Not be a minor leaguer

    This guy is still a raw rookie going into his 2nd year….just like the QB is still as raw as a 4th round rookie going into his 4th year.

    WHere the h*ll is our Chris Johnson type contributor. Team full of middling talent

  • lefty12

    a little late but Chris thanks for that article-spot on!!!

  • jhill

    Yeah, I suggested a 3rd pick on Skelton earlier this mng.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Chaz, DHB, Murphy, Ford, and JLH should be the fastest WR group in the NFL. Catching us not required!! lol

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Chris in NY,

    The QBs JUST before Gannon weren’t all that inspiring either

  • Seymour Bush

    # Chris in NY Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Jhill,
    I appreciate you sticking your neck out there on the DHB pick, but that pick made no sense at the time or now. Sure, he’s great on the track, but his game speed was not at all impressive and not only does he drop a ton of passes, but his unsure hands slow him down because he has such a hard time securing anything thrown to him.

    Who knows. DHB still has plenty of time to prove himself. But he needs dramatic, dramatic improvement in his football skills. There’s a chance he becomes good or even great, but I think it’s very slim.

    Should’ve built up the trenches last year. Could’ve had a real shot at the best player in this year’s draft — Dez Bryant. Mark my words: Dez Bryant is going to be the best WR to come out of college since Andre Johnson.
    ================================================

    Dez Bryant is not a fast guy. Not at the pro level, and he is not a very big guy either. Calvin Johnson he isn’t. Now, maybe with his “year off”, he has spent it with Deon Sanders improving his speed. We’ll find out shortly.

    With regards to DHB, when I saw Chaz Shielens take the field the lst few times, I thought, “there is NO WAY, this guy can play in the league. He is slow, he doesn’t break well, this guy has NO FUTURE.” But what it is, is these guys are out there thinking. They’re not playing. They are counting their steps, thinking about their foot plants, thinking about where on the numbers they supposed to be, basically everything OTHER than playing football. Late in his lst year, Shilens could go out and play, he looked real good.

    Lastly, this is a deeper draft in Oline prospects than last year, and there is no top speed burner receiver so you can see what we were thinking. Other than Center, the tackle and guard prospects this year is much deeper than last.

  • NorthernD

    Chris in NY,
    Al has always like to take veteran QB’s from other teams. Skelton seems to be a big, strong armed Raiders QB though.
    Definitely a late round possibility.

  • Chris in NY

    Jhill,
    I wanted Maualuga as well. Ideally, I was hoping we traded back and got Maualuga later in the 1st and Phil Loadholt in the 2nd. Loadholt started at RT from Week 1 on for the Vikings. Maualuga was a real nice player with Cincy and a big reason their D was much better this year. Although, in retrospect, I do think Cushing and Matthews are probably a little better of that awesome USC LB corps.

    But how nice would it be now if we had Maualuga at MLB, Kirk at SLB. The RT spot locked up for years to come. And the freedom to get Dez Bryant in this year’s draft.

  • NorthernD

    SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:02 pm
    Here’s the problem with DHB. The kid can’t catch the freekn ball!
    ======================
    What’s wrong with that?

    Oh yeah, that’s his job.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    I think its 60/40 Gradkowski is even tendered

  • NorthernD

    SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:08 pm
    I think its 60/40 Gradkowski is even tendered
    ========================================
    100% he gets a contract. They’re only squabbling about a one or two year deal, or a couple hundred thou…

  • http://CableBumaye 909RaiderLifer

    Isn’t all of this kinda moot until Taylor Mays does his workout thus, causing Al to soil himself???..lol..

  • NorthernD

    Later gents, hockey time…

  • Chris in NY

    Seymour,
    Dez Bryant is about 6-3, 225. That’s T.O. or Andre Johnson size. That’s plenty big enough. There are very few WRs Calvin Johnson’s size that are any good.

    And Dez Bryant was a big-play WR and dynamic punt returner at OK State. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t run at least a 4.4.

  • Seymour Bush

    SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Here’s the problem with DHB. The kid can’t catch the freekn ball! If DHB was a 3rd or 4th round pick, then that’s fine. But a 1st round guy is expected to get on the field and contribute. Not be a minor leaguer
    ======================================

    You look at Calvin Johnson who you all love and he hasn’t broken the bank his lst three years in the league. His numbers are pretty pedestrian, and his lst year he had Kitna who was a pro bowl player tossing him the rock. It takes a little bit of time for guys to develop. It is VERY unusual for guys like Andre Johnson to come in their lst year and catch 70 balls. For each Andre Johnson, there are 30 DHB’s.

  • Chris in NY

    Oh yeah, and Bryant can catch. Which is a nice luxury to have in a WR ;)

  • Seymour Bush

    Chris in NY Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Seymour,
    Dez Bryant is about 6-3, 225. That’s T.O. or Andre Johnson size.
    ============================================

    No he isn’t. That might be his “PR” height and weight, but I have him about 6’1″, 210. The same size as Craptree, and Bryant’s last forty was 4.54. So, unless he has put on a lot of size and speed this year he has laid out, and he could have, he is a Craptree type of receiver, which is still a very very good player. Just not either what we want or what we are looking for. Unless you want to throw Shilens under the bus.

  • jhill

    DHB, like Russell and DMAC wii be just fine. HOF’rs? Nah, but this team can win with them.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Calvin Johnson –

    48 Rec 756 yds 4 TDs – DHB 9 Rec 124 yds 1 TD
    78 Rec 1331 yds 12 TDs
    67 Rec 984 yds 5 TDs

    And Calvin’s teams have been the worst in the league.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Top 10 picks are supposed to produce unless they are QBs or are injured.

    Our top 10 picks have not produced. They have all behaved like developmental 3rd round picks. That’s been a big problem around here

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

    If the Raiders tender Bruce, I think there is a slight chance a team will sign him to a offer sheet.

    The prospect of a 2011 lockout wil make teams more indifferent to losing 2011 draft picks.

    Not likely, but a chance that a Denver, Seattle, Carolina maybe give him a look.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Part of the problem has been lousy, lousy, lousy, lousy coaching.

    Draft all these elite players and give them shoddy inconsistent coaching.

    Hopefully Hue Jackson fixes all of this. Hopefully he makes most of the decisions for the offense, including the starting lineup.

    Cable should do nothing but focus on the O-Line and being a head coach

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    VR,

    We will see about Bruce. Again, my personal opinion is that most people see this guy as just a guy. A guy who played well in 2 games. That’s it.

    He gave Tampa a couple of good games too. He’s just a guy on the fringe fighting to get on and stay on a roster.

    The only thing giving Gradkowski support is that JaDavis has been so awful. Not because he (Gradkowski) has been so good. Big difference.

  • jhill

    Exactly SnB

    Gradkowski is benefiting from Russell’s struggles, not his stellar play.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Tender Garbagekowski!?! No Way!!
    Give a him a 1 year contract to compete and be a backup if JR improves: Yes!

    No Tender!! 1 year 1.25 – 1.5 mil.

  • jhill

    I really don’t think it’s about the young guys like Russell, DMAC, and DHB, or the coaching.

    I think guys like Cornell Green, Kwame Harris, Erik Pears, Cooper Carlisle, Satele, Morrison, and Routt have A LOT more to do with our record.

    I guarantee you if we upgrade RG, C, RT, MLB, and Nickle corner, we will a lot more games with Russell, DHB, and DMAC.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Tender TH over GarbageKowski!

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    JHill,

    JaDavis was given two head coaches with differing philosophies, two or three position coaches….and an Owner that interjects often.

    Now, JaDavis hasn’t helped himself with his laziness and indifference…but the coaching hasn’t been that good.

    I agree with the lines. Just awful. Reflects the fact that line play has not been a priority in Oakland.

  • RaiderLen

    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:37 pm
    I really don’t think it’s about the young guys like Russell, DMAC, and DHB, or the coaching.

    I think guys like Cornell Green, Kwame Harris, Erik Pears, Cooper Carlisle, Satele, Morrison, and Routt have A LOT more to do with our record.

    I guarantee you if we upgrade RG, C, RT, MLB, and Nickle corner, we will a lot more games with Russell, DHB, and DMAC.

    =====================================================
    Afternoon Fellas…Yep

    The O line, is by far the weakest position group on this team.

    Fix this 1st. Then lets see what the high #1′s can do.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    JHill,

    Then Tom Cable’s playcalling all but finished off the development of all three recent high draft picks.

    Just pathetic. The MNF game where he abandoned the running game….his insistence on “letting er rip” from the 10 yard line….ignoring the running game in camp.

    All hurt this team…plus his misuse of Bush and DMAC.

    But, Al Davis saw this as well and brought in Hue Jackson

  • 504 Raider

    Greetings Nation!
    Been very busy with work but I been checking in often just to read you guys go back and forth. Seems like the days I wanted to post yall were thick on the politics.

    Anyway, I think our second 3rd round pick gets this done: http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Trenches/entry/view/57526/nfc-trenches-talk-eagles-reportedly-to-pay-then-trade-vick