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Position group analysis: Defensive line

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, February 28th, 2010 at 5:11 pm in Oakland Raiders.

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

Starters: RE Richard Seymour, DT Tommy Kelly, DT Gerard Warren, LE Greg Ellis. Backups_ DT Desmond Bryant, DE Greyson Gunheim, DT William Joseph, DE Jay Richardson, DE Matt Shaughnessy.

Review: As a group, was less effective than the sum of its parts. On one hand, the Raiders often played on the opposite side of the line and were among the league leaders in tackles for loss. Which was more than negated by the amount of rushing yardage they surrendered through either shabby tackling, poor gap control, or simply getting pushed around.

The Raiders thought enough of Seymour to make him their exclusive rights franchise free agent, guaranteeing him at least $12.398 million. He looked that good at times. Other times, he vanished for stretches. Although Kelly has his moments, he’s shown no sign he’ll ever be worth all the money they paid him the previous year to stay out of free agency. Warren has moments where he can’t be blocked and then . . . it’s been the story of his career at previous stops in Cleveland and Denver. Ellis, despite a balky knee, recorded seven sacks and proved to be an excellent free agent acquisition.

Third-round draft pick Matt Shaughnessy out of Wisconsin looked like a real find. He showed great range and passion, a good burst rushing the passer (four sacks) and was a sponge for everything Seymour and Ellis had to offer. Bryant, an undrafted free agent out of Harvard, was heavily involved in the defensive line rotation and produced far more than could have been expected after jumping from the Ivy League to the NFL.

Richardson, with three sacks, looks the part of a dominant lineman but plays that way too infrequently. Joseph has been on a yo-yo from being released, to being signed and then released again. Gunheim was a practice squad promotion for the second straight year.

Contract status: Nothing to worry about. Everything is within the Raiders control.

What’s next: Rumors continue of the Raiders wanting to off-load some players, particularly those with bloated contracts. Kelly and Warren would both qualify on that score, although, as noted before, these supposed fire-sales have been rumored every season and they never actually happen. The assumption here is that Trevor Scott will play linebacker based on the way he finished the 2009 season. That’s a good idea because it means more time for Shaughnessy, who will eventually push Ellis out of the starting lineup and off the roster. In the meantime, Ellis is good to have around.

The Raiders usually take a defensive lineman or two in the draft, and have scored big with the picks of Scott and Shaughnessy the past two years (it more than makes up for the Quinton Moses whiff).

Mike Waufle returns as defensive line coach. Waufle’s a big believer in leverage and position, two areas that if improved, could turn a talented front into a more productive one.

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  • SteveAlford21

    Debo:

    Michael Irvin never would have made any plays without the line protecting long enough to let the play develop and give the QB time to get him the ball. We’ve been over this. Wow.

  • Raiders4eve

    Tommy Kelly never proved he was worth $50 mill in the open market, you don’t pay a guy $10 mill unless he dominates opponents. Name me one game when Tommy Kelly dominated like darnell dockett?

  • RaiderDebo

    SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 2:18 pm
    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 2:10 pm
    I wonder why we didn’t take the workout warriors Gholston and Calvin Johnson?

    DHB does not equal Bruce Campbell or Taylor Mays, lol!

    Before DHB was picked, Al’s 40 time guy was a guy like Carlos Francis in rd 4.
    =====================================================
    Because Russell threw the ball 80 yards on his knees and had the cannon arm. Hence no Calvin Johnson
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    SnB, not trying to pile on, but I have to agree with Preist that you do make some goofy statements such as the one above. There was a hell of a lot more that went into the drafting of Russell. It cracks me up that people still say goofy stuff like this. Did you watch NFL Network? Did you see the little mock interview with Tony Pike? JR went through tons of that. In fact Kiffin was quoted as saying that JR was very impressive on the grease board. And what about his intangibles? Always cool under fire and extremely competitive? He showed all those things in engineering eight 4th qtr comebacks. After he was hurt in the SEC Championship his sophomore year and Matt Flynn starred in their bowl win, he had to reclaim his job the following season against Flynn and Ryan Perriloux, an extremely heralded recruit. He rose to the occasion and had an outstanding season. And in the Sugar Bowl which was billed as a fight for status as the No. 1 pick in the draft, he rose to the occasion again. Don’t you think the Raiders noticed any of this stuff along with his physical attributes?

  • jhill

    (He is) a 6-6, 330-pound country kid from Mississippi who is strong as all outdoors. Can he play the position? Yes.

    ——————————————————-

    I agree with Sapp.

    As for the “I didn’t get a chance to teach him ..” LMFAO!

  • jhill

    4eve,

    And the question still stands, who should we have playing DT instead of TK? Not saying I agree with the contract. I could actually care less how Al spends his $. Just curious which FA we should have paid or which rookie we should have taken instead of paying TK?

  • Raiders4eve

    Jhill

    But you making it seem that TK is a good player because of his stats, he is not an efficient player meaning his contribution doesn’t affect the outcome of the game. He is not dominate DT to be payed $10 mill a year, you dig?

  • Raiders4eve

    Jhill

    Which year? last year or the year we resigned TK?

  • jhill

    Nah Debo …

    The Raiders don’t do greas board stuff. They only go to the combine with a stop watch.

  • priesttj

    Jhill, SnB is going to try to sell that fat BJ untill he eventually does something worth while. Anyone that can tell me he was worth that pick is lying. If he were he would be starting plain and simple. I’ll take 3 DT’s in this draft D Williams, Suh and McCoy. All great players IMO worth top 15 selections and yu’ll see everyone of them start for the team that drafts them.

    T Williams and A davis and Bulaga are all great talents either of them would play right now for us. The kid Washington is also a top teir player along with Charles Brown from USC. This draft is outstanding we NEED MORE PICKS. I want Micah Johnson in the 5th rnd. There is also a QB from Hillsdale college whom I’d like to take a flyer on. He is impressive.

  • jhill

    The year we signed TK …

    HAD to let Sapp go, and letting Warren walk would have been a huge gamble. A little foggy, but wasn’t that the off season Dorsey was coming out?

  • jhill

    The Oakland Raiders stepped forward Thursday on the eve of free agency and signed Tommy Kelly to the largest contract ever given to a defensive tackle.

    Kelly, a defensive end scheduled to move to defensive tackle this season, signed a seven-year, $50.5 million contract Thursday that has $18.125 million in guarantees. In the first three years of the deal, he will make $25.125 million.

    The Raiders’ plan is for the 300-pound Kelly to replace the retiring Warren Sapp as the three-technique defensive tackle in the Raiders’ 4-3 defense. The move is similar to the one made last year by the Detroit Lions’ Cory Redding, a franchise player who signed a seven-year, $47.5 million deal last summer, the highest among defensive tackles at the time.

    Like Kelly, Redding was an effective run-stopping end with some pass-rush ability so the Lions believed he could move to tackle, work next to Shaun Rogers and create a solid 1-2 interior defensive tackle punch. The Raiders believe Kelly can emerge as one of the league’s best interior defenders.

  • jhill

    18 million in guarantees over 7 years is not a lot of $. The contract was similar to Cory Redding. Maybe we should have signed him instead?

  • jhill

    Yeah Priest .. Draft is deep this year in a lot of spots. What do you think about this kid Campbell everyone is in an uproar over?

  • Raiders4eve

    Jhill

    TK signed on feb 2008, there were potential trades available and free agents for example Corey Williams was available via trade along with Marcus Stroud, there was also Randy Starks who signed with Miami for half the money TK got and this year had 9 sacks, there was also a veteran in Damione Lewis who resigned with the Panthers after not getting much offers but seems productive enough. Note that all these guys are 4-3 DTs and we could have also drafted a DT instead of wasting the third round pick on Quentin Moses the year before that. My point there were better options bro, trust me.

  • JB

    Say what you want about TK but remember, he’s the ONLY DT in the NFL to have mooned the free world on national TV. That’s almost as memorable as Jim Marshall’s wrong way run. Who says TK doesn’t give it his all. LOL

  • priesttj

    Jhill, If you notice the whine and cry crowd rarely have better optins that actually make sense. It’s always we should’ve signed King Kong or taded JLH for Boldin. Something that would never happen because they are clueless. While DHB shouldn’t have been drafted where he was and we had definite other needs. The kid isn’t nearly as bad as some make out. He was playin g under a ton of pressureand didn’t handle it well. As a lot of rookies will do. But I saw that kid on film and he made some incedible plays. He is what I would believe to be about 50 -60% where he needs to be which could take another year and a half. But in the meantime he can make some huge plays for us to help us win. He is a very rare specimen If he were in this draft it would be he and Dez Bryant because that would’ve allowed him an extra years development.

  • jhill

    to be payed $10 mill a year,

    ——————————————————-

    He is not making 10 million a year.

    You assume that teams would have traded with us. And not only would we have had to pay those guys the same, but we would have had to ALSO give up a high draft pick. Stroud is a decent player, but how has his presence impacted the Bills deense? Where is Corey Williams these days?

  • jhill

    I’m not worried about DHB, Priest. I’m sure that kid, along with DMAC and Russell will be fine. The same way Gallery and Huff finally came around to be contributors, so will those other kids. I really hope we upgrade our WR coach though. AND we need to get a QB coach.

  • jhill

    I’m assuming Hackett is out as QB coach.

  • priesttj

    It’s very early in his development he was working in the kick n slide drill and he moves naturally. Everything with him comes very easy. It’s all about getting proper coaching and in a system that fits him well. But IMO in maybe two years he could be one of the better players at that position. Everything is about development at this level how fast and hw effective. Mario Henderson is still learning so are Satele and some others this is a very young team. that’s what I keep trying to get accross to these guy’s.

    It just needs a coach that can bring it all together and make it work. Yes we need some pieces this offseason in some areas badly(OLine, MLB) but the rest is how fast they will develope. If Russell can develope over the next two years into his potential WOW!! now DHB is an awesome weapon.

  • priesttj

    I’m not sure about Hackett he may take a lesser role but he would be great for Russell’s technigue while the passing game itself, Jackson should take complete control. Jackson has a HUGE responsibility from Russell to DMC to DHB and so on. I’m hping he is the right man at the right time.

  • JB

    We need to let DHB grow into the next Cliff Branch. Give the kid some time. I think he’ll ome around fine as soon as we settle the QB problem. I still feel we should move DMac permanently to slot WR. He can do a ton of damage there on mismatches. He’ll also be able to run some reverses from there too. DMac is of value as long as he doesn’t go between the tackles. Our BIG NEEDS have been identified here numerous times – BIG UGLIES and 2 – LB’s (MLB & WSLB). Scott is doing just fine at SSLB. On the O-line we need a real OLT (moving Henderson to ORT), a top notch center and a ORG assuming we don’t resign & use Walker. The D-Line needs 2 more Seymour’s in the middle. The real weakness is at MLB & WSLB. The real question on our back field is who will play opposite Nhamdi and who will be at the safety positions. Fortunately we have the personnel in-house already so it’s just a matter of who wants it most – competition.

    At FB the question is all about O’Neal. Will he be back or not?

    Last but not least is he QB position. But, that’s a topic where no agreement can be reached except for what we have is not getting it done. Maybe if we traded for McNabb, we’d be instantly competitive and there’d be someone to mentor JR. Just a thought.

  • jhill

    DMAC needs to line up in the backfield with Bush and then motion out of it to the slot. You need him matched up against a LB or S, not another corner, IMO.

    I think the way we started out game 1 against SD was a perfect blueprint for how to use those 2 guys.

  • jhill

    “I have not put a lot of thought into this at this point,” Cable said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis when asked about naming Russell the starter. “JaMarcus is working and doing the things he should be doing right now. He’ll get himself prepared to compete for the job. I think that’s the only way to look at it.”

  • RaiderDebo

    jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 8:17 pm
    Nah Debo …

    The Raiders don’t do greas board stuff. They only go to the combine with a stop watch.
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Lol. No kidding. Good to see the kids have gone to bed and the grownups like you and Priest are talking about FOOTBALL. Wish I could join, but I’ve got to step out. Catch up with you guys later.

  • priesttj

    Jhill,

    I gaurantee you even in that quote by Cable the naysayers will pick out whatever they can spin that negative and blow it out of proportion. When if you just let it say what it’s saying. It’s simple the kid will compete……period

  • jhill

    LOL, I know Priest.

    Funny thing is why is Grads not he hands down starter if he was so good? Why does Russell even have another shot at it?

  • priesttj

    I know if you listen to Vegas and some others Russell would be cut. This is going to be a very interesting offseason. I have a gut feeling this is going to be our best offseason in years and make a difference in next year. If we can stay healthy at the right spots I think we will be very competitive. But we haven’t signed or drafted a single player so far so we’ll see.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Richochet

    Don’t recall the “Grad is so good”.
    What I recall is, in every single aspect…from ball control, touch on the ball, pocket awareness, footwork, going through reads, td to interception ration, and LEADERSHIP, Grad easily was better than Russell.

    Grad is the lesser of the two evils is what it boils down to.

    And no one here honestly believes that Cable, of all people, is going to decide who starts next year…do you?

  • RaiderRon

    Uh oh…..I do believe Priest is about to start predicting HUGE things for the 2010 Oakland Raiders. Just like in Feb ’09 and Feb ’08 and ’07 and……..Bound to be right one of these years, I guess.

    Still cant believe there are guys on here who think Bruce “Journeyman” Gradkowski is the answer at QB. Un freakn real.

  • RaiderRon

    If Bruce Gradkowski is the opening game starter at QB this franchise will not snap the 10+ loss streak for 5 years.

  • http://atm Raider O

    1- OT: Williams, Davis, or Campbell
    2- DT: L Houston
    2- ILB: Spikes (trade our 3rd & 5th to move up to draft Him)
    3- WR/ KR: Jacoby Ford
    4- DE: Austen Lane
    5- OG: M Johnson, JJ, Ciron Black, or CB: Walter Thurmond
    7- DT: Demarcus Granger or FB

    Make it Happen Al!!

    Houston, Spikes, and Austen Lane will contribute and help the Defense improve.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Richochet

    # priesttj Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    While DHB shouldn’t have been drafted where he was and we had definite other needs. The kid isn’t nearly as bad as some make out.

    RICHOCHET: But HE IS. Find me any web site, any sports cast, any media outlet that states he’s NOT BAD?? you can’t..because it’s not out there.

    ###############
    He was playin g under a ton of pressureand didn’t handle it well.

    RICHOCHET: In other words he IS BAD, but that’s your excuse? Anyway you spin it, it’s STILL AN EXCUSE ON WHY HE SUCKED.
    ########################
    He is a very rare specimen

    RICHOCHET: And you’re an idiot. That’s why you get so much crap..because of stupid statements like that. “Bey is a rare specimen” “Russell is a rare specimen”…Again, YOU’RE A FREAKING MORON for even trying to run that BS.
    Both are close to bust stage. Both were at the bottom in their position, and both looked horrible.

    Your problem? You think a rocket arm that has no control is a “rare specimen”..and that someone who’s “fast, but can’t catch the ball” is a rare specimen.
    Both where bad picks by Al.
    You’re just going to have to deal with it, or do as you always do…MAKE EXCUSES WHY THEY SUCK.

  • jhill

    Rich,

    Maybe you aren’t saying Grads is good, but most other folks shoot down the notion of even Losman getting a shot. There are is definitely a “GRADS IN ’10″ faction out there. And without question there is a Grads is way better than Russell camp. So if the coach and owner who already had this guy as a 3rd stringer are still in place, why would I suspect Russell just gets handed the #1 job?

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Richochet

    Hey..it’s RaiderRon.
    Aren’t you the one who stated “I don’t get all excited about wins or losses”?? Wasn’t that you?

    Where you stated “I’ll support a winning team, and when the Raiders start winning again, I’ll come back and support them”??

    Lol..that was you, wasn’t it?

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Richochet

    I agree..Losman SHOULD get a shot. Grad just played better, but he’s not the answer, and not the future..

    And why would he be handed the job?

    It’s Al, right?

    I mean, hasn’t stranger things happened?
    Even when Cable benched JR, (most believe Al told him to, or he got permission to) Cable announced after the game that Grad was starting the next year, and also added that he cleared it with Al (dumb comment, BTW..I mean…WTF even mention it?).

    Grad/Losman/whoever will have to play MUCH better than JR in preseason to take the starting job…if it’s just marginally better, I believe Al will keep giving JR his shot.

  • jhill

    Unless you were a believer in Andrew Walter, how can you say that Jamarcus Russell was a bad pick? Not talking hindsight, but at the time the pick was made.

    I think we already agreed the “plan” for Russell was flawed from the start.

  • NorthernD

    Was listening to Micheal Irvin at the combine today. He was bringing up some good points about how WR’s should take smaller quicker steps. It helps them to make faster cuts and have sharper routes. It was more important to him than just blazing speed.

  • http://atm Raider O

    -L Houston is 6’3 305, a beast against the Run, but he can still rush the passer.
    -Austen Lane is 6’6 276, runs a sub 4.7, and has 40 TFL & 23 sacks in 2 season. Long arms & big hands.
    - Spikes Is better against the Run than McClain, hits Harder, but not as fast and can’t cover as good.

  • priesttj

    Show me one post where I predicted anything great about any year in the last 4 I never make predictins because injuries are such a huge part of football.

    So lie on someone else. I will say and have said many times what I think we are capable of if we can get certain things done. But I never predict anything except what I think a particular player might do.

  • jhill

    If Kiffin and company were still in place, or whoever was the coach Jamarcus’ rookie year, I think you will see a lot more progression.

    Russell was simply asked by Cable’s gameplan to do something that he was not ready to do. Especially with 2 rookie WRs, and a shotty Oline. I understand the concerns his teammates have, but I don’t think his progression from shotgun spread offense QB to NFL QB was far enough along for Cable’s plan. Should have been heavy run, and play action off that. Shorter routes like we talked about earlier.

  • priesttj

    NorthernD, Michael was just voicing common knowledge for what a great route runner has to do. Long striders have always been thought of as bad route runners. It’s really no different than a RB who high steps the better runner run with the feet barely off the ground that way they can cut easier and quicker.

    They’ve beeen preaching that since football was played. Coaches hate highsteppers and most long striders they wont draft them. Because they can’t get in and out of breaks. Football is a game of angles and leverage whoever is better at those things normally can play.

  • Thec07

    raidertalk Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 6:45 pm
    With the 39th Pick in the 2010 draft..the Raiders take
    MUARKICE POUNCEY, C, FLORIDA

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Would be a good pick, but he wont e around at 39th…

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Richochet

    # jhill Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Unless you were a believer in Andrew Walter, how can you say that Jamarcus Russell was a bad pick? Not talking hindsight, but at the time the pick was made.

    I think we already agreed the “plan” for Russell was flawed from the start.
    =================
    If that’s to me, I never said JR was a bad pick. Turned out bad, obviously, at least so far, but at the time team needed a qb, and JR seemed a lock.

    Always felt McF was a bad pick, because he wasn’t a need.
    Felt Bey was a bad pick because a handful of WR’s were all listed as better, and most have turned out better..but with JR?

    That’s more on him not applying himself to actually see how good he could get. Not getting in top shape..not studying and learning everything he can…not working his ass off to be the qb, and maybe even a leader.
    Almost sad in seeing how this young guy is letting this opportunity slip by..or at least it seems he is.

  • jhill

    O,

    I disagree with locking in to a position in Rd 1 and 2. We need to simply take the best player on the board at a position of need. Once you get past Okung and Davis in Rd 1, I think you need to look at another position.

  • Thec07

    Not sure if i see BRL progressing when kiffin didnt want him in the first place…. BRL is a bum…

  • priesttj

    Great post Jhill, it’s hard to believe how so few people understand that.

  • Thec07

    RD 1 OL
    RD 2 OL or CODY
    RD 3 OL
    RD 4 OL
    ….

  • http://atm Raider O

    - Jacoby Ford has 111 catches, and over 1500 yards rec in 2 seasons. He us 5’9 185, and runs a 4.28.

    -OT: I’ll take Okung, Williams, Davis, Campbell, or reach for Brown. No Bugala!!

    -We sign the best C available, try to trade TK for more picks, and cut Walker, Warren, and Fargas.

    -sign a FB.

    All we need is fir JR to improve!

    Don’t F up this draft Mr Davis!

  • Thec07

    “Skill Player” = Dime a doz….
    Build the treches…