Will have more later and am available for questions at the upcoming chat, but here are some quick observations from Tom Cable’s pre-draft session with the local media:
– Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Cable loves the offensive tackle class. He said the same thing last year about the class which included Jason Smith (No. 2 to St. Louis), Andre Smith (No. 6 to Cincinnati) and Eugene Monroe (No. 8 to Jacksonville) and Michael Oher (No. 23 to Baltimore).
If you read between the lines, however, always a chancy proposition during draft time, Maryland’s Bruce Campbell sounds like an unlikely pick at No. 8. Cable said the eighth pick should be considered an immediate starter.
“Let’s say we’re looking at a guy who has 15 starts as opposed to a guy who has 35 or 40 starts, that’s important to you because he’s been in games, he’s seen a lot of pass rushers, he’s seen a lot of defense in live action, and that bodes well in getting a guy you think can come in and start right away,” Cable said.
Campbell had 17 starts at Maryland.
– Asked if the Raiders would remain a zone blocking team, Cable said, “We’ll talk about those things when we get ready for OTA.”
That’s the first time I can remember Cable didn’t give a flat answer of, “We’re a zone blocking team.”
Talked with one former player familiar with Hue Jackson who told me the coach is more of a “smash-mouth guy” in terms of a favored blocking approach.
– Cable stressed he wanted to stick to the draft as a topic of conversation and gave little more than a “he’s here, he’s working” response to a question about quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
However, when asked about the importance of getting a premium pick that actually produces right away, as opposed to the struggles of Russell, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Cable was effusive in his praise of last year’s first-round pick.
“You guys will be excited when you see us in OTA, the improvement Darrius has already made,” Cable said. “That guy has jumped out at us since winter program, or offseason program, just the quality of work he’s done.
“What he did between the end of the season and when we started on March 17 is phenomenal, and probably no one is more excited about a guy on our team than Darrius right now. He really, really has taken this things leaps and bounds, further probably than what we thought we could go with it this quickly. It will be nice to get him on the field and get him into coverages and get him into route concepts and doing those kinds of things.”
– Expect Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard to be dangled for draft considerations. Cable said Trevor Scott will remain a weakside linebacker, with Kamerion Wimbley the strong side starter.
– Cable was predictably coy on the subject of drafting a quarterback. He said they talked with Tim Tebow at the combine.
– No word on whether Stanford Routt or Howard had signed tenders. Cable said those things take care of themselves and he is currently focused on the draft.
– Cable said there wasn’t a lot of truth to the Donovan McNabb rumors.
“I don’t know that we were really the player that everybody thought we were,” Cable said.
– The inaction of the Raiders during free agency, Cable said, had to do with the team wanting to get the draft nailed down and the unknown elements of free agency without a collective bargaining agreement in place.