128

Raiders break with tradition in a good way

Time will tell whether the selections during the first two days of the NFL draft will help pull the Raiders out of a seven-year tailspin, but the philosophy for the selections of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Texas defensive end Lamarr Houston and Hillsdale offensive tackle Jared Veldheer were accomplished with a different mindset.

“As I said last week during the predraft press conference and again last night, it was important for us to make this team better and put some real need-fitters in this program rather than just numbers guys, if you will,” coach Tom Cable said.

Remember Bruce Campbell, the inconsistent Maryland tackle Al Davis supposedly couldn’t pass up after he blew everybody away at the combine?

He’s still available. The Raiders instead went with Veldheer, an impressive athlete in his own right who was dominant at the Division II level if not quite as perfect physically.

And for those of you who think Davis may have taken a step back from the process _ hence the philosophical shift _ guess again.

When Veldheer visited Oakland about a week and a half ago, he got a 20-minute sit-down with the boss.

“It was great to meet Mr. Davis, being able to meet with the guy who put the league where it is today was a very special thing,” Veldheer told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “He said that he had watched my tape and liked the way I played, discussed with me how he wanted to win another Super Bowl and I know I’m definitely on board with that.”

Because of Veldheer’s small college roots, he was investigated in some ways more thoroughly than McClain and Houston, both of whom were surprised to be drafted by Oakland because of limited contact. Oakland was able to investigate the two run-stoppers through the combine and their own contacts in the business.

“I talked to ‘em at the combine and that was the end of that,” Houston said. “It never crossed my mind that I’d be a Raider.”

While Cable said the Raiders have been even more secretive than usual during the process, they did pretty much what the coach said they would do at a pre-draft press conference _ do something to fortify the offensive and defensive lines and look for players who wanted to come to work and contribute immediately.

“We don’t need knuckleheads, we need champions,” Cable said.

Houston, at 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, will be played at end, and not tackle.

“He’ll play defensive end in our scheme and I suspect the transition will be easy for him,” Cable said. “He played it the first half of his college career. It gives you a guy that gives you the right qualities, in terms of, the football player, the power, the speed, all those things. Very productive. Comes out of a program that’s used to winning, understands how to do that.

“He fits a need for us in the defensive front.”

If Houston is playing end, doesn’t that make the Raiders still in need of defensive tackles? Cable said Friday they were still a 4-3 team, but it’s clear there will be some interesting changes in scheme.

“You’ll see the plan when we get there,” Cable said. “It’s good. You’ll like it. You will like it. We have some things we’re putting together to get it all sorted out. But you’ll see it in minicamp.”

Cable said Houston would play end “because we’re trying to get a little more physical on the defensive front. I think that’s obvious with the first two picks. You’ll see some people moved around a little bit, and it gives us a chance to line (Houston) up at a left end and go wrestle with a tight end all day, and that’s a good thing. I think he’s going to win a lot of those battles.”

Cable said the Raiders had their sights set on Houston, moved back twice to get extra picks Saturday, and still were able to select him. At Texas, Houston was one of the leaders on a defense that led the nation in rushing defense in 2009 (72.36 yards per game) after finishing third in 2008 (83.54) and sixth in 2007 (93.38).

As for Veldheer, Cable doesn’t see a protracted developmental period and said there was no set plan on whether he’d play right tor left tackle.

For the record, Cable said there was no thought to drafting Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

  • Share/Bookmark

Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Faph57A7Kg0 r8eray

    1st

  • Nnamdi21

    Nnamdi21 Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:26 pm
    Veldheer

    http://www.raidernationstation.com/draftermath

    “On the limited game tape that is available of him, Veldheer looks awfully impressive really exploding into defenders and using leverage to his advantage. At 6’8”, 312lbs. he has the physique of an NFL starting tackle and the athleticism of a tight end. His fluidity of movement is effortless and he really has no difficulty staying between defenders and his quarterback on the edge.”

  • Chris in NY

    I’m pretty sure we’re going to run a defense similar to what Arizona did in its Super Bowl year with a real mix of 3-4 and 4-3.

    Houston seems like much more of a 3-4 DE than a 4-3 DE.

  • Nnamdi21

    Not because Clausen’s an a hole, but because Oakland is set at QB for the next decade…I pray…

  • Plunketthead

    Cable keeps throwing potshots at our 290 pound QB

    Right on!!

  • aig

    Great draft so far. It looks like we will be playing the 3-4 alot this year. Lamar looks like a good solid player. Al is making too much sense this year. I expect a reach for db and a few more DT’s and Oline guys.

  • aig

    Chris,

    I think you are right. I think we are playing more 3-4 this year and Cable just dont want to admit it to the league.

  • Plunketthead

    Al better dump JR before Cable unleashes the pimp hand

  • Nnamdi21

    aig Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:35 pm
    Chris,

    I think you are right. I think we are playing more 3-4 this year and Cable just dont want to admit it to the league.

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

    We will play 3-4 packages as we’ve done, but Marshall’s a 4-3 guy brought in by Al to run a 4-3 defensive base.

    Some good looking picks. excited.

  • 831GoldenState

    Yeah Baby!!!!!! The Koolaid is tasting good right now. Another round for the faithfull.

  • chrisram73

    The Raiders have had an excellent draft! So much more impressive than years past. For fans, it is the hope this draft provides that last year’s draft deprived us. If only these players perform like Shaugnessy and Murphy, and Bryant.

  • http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo249/the408RAIDER/749px-I-420svg.png 408RAIDER

    Go Al!!! Fugg all you haterz!! =)

  • Nnamdi21

    Broncos panicked over Tebow.

    I wish the media would rip the Broncos for their debacle of a 1st round.

    That was a joke.

  • Nnamdi21
  • chrisram73

    Raiders drafted well.
    Broncos drafted well.
    Chiefs drafted well.

    AFC West looking to bring it in a few years!

  • xfactor247

    Whoever has been running the late rounds of the draft recently obviously took complete control and said look Al we need production not potential and fortunately Al bit.

  • Chris in NY

    I’m always optimistic about the Raiders except when they’re getting beat down like they did against the Jets and Giants this year or other similar blowout losses. So I’m hoping for the best with all these picks.

    However, while everyone else seems to be gushing about a great draft thus far, I’m not all that excited.

    1) McClain: We need a run-stuffing MLB but I just don’t think McClain was worth the No. 8 pick. I hope I’m wrong and I definitely could be. The kid has been highly decorated throughout his high school and college career. But I see a guy who plays too high, has average athleticism and had a great surrounding cast and coaching staff that surely helped him look good. I like the fact that he’s considered a smart player and he seems to read and react light years better than Kirk. Not the guy I would’ve picked but I hope I’m wrong.

    2) Lamarr Houston: Talented player and big factor on Texas’ highly talented defense. Didn’t pay that much attention to him because I didn’t think we’d take another 3-technique DT that high with Kelly, Seymour, Joseph and Bryant all being in that mold and no NT to speak of. I probably would’ve preferred addressing some other needs, however, I think he’ll be a good player so I’ll take him.

    3) Jared Veldheer: Can’t pretend to have seen much of Hillsdale this year so I’m not going to rip the kid. But from what I’ve read sounds like a slightly slower, shorter-armed D-II version of Bruce Campbell. Many great o-linemen — even in recent years — have come out of nowheresville colleges like this, so I guess I’ll reserve judgment. Just put my Veldheer jersey on hold for now.

    On the bright side, I like the additions of Wimbley and Groves in pre-draft trades. And I love the fact that we still have 6 picks left and there are plenty of players out there who I still really like.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    OK we are going to run a lot of 3-4, if that is the case who is our NT??? Is it Jeatusoutofhouseandhome?

  • xfactor247

    i don’t think the Broncos drafted so well 73, reached on 2 1st rounders and got “decent” OL later, Decker could be a good pick, but no impact players for the Donks

  • Coach on Wheels

    Wow. If Houston is LDE you got to wonder if richardson and Seymour will be used mostly inside. Matt S is still in the mix. More 3-4 seems logical too. The old scheme was so outdated anything would be good.

  • Guy

    Wow Houston at DE, trade up and grab Cam Thomas as our NT! I was actually right lol, Seymour and Houston at DE with Thomas or Cody(he was available at the time) at NT.

  • xfactor247

    Al’s gonna let the ATHLETES run around if we switch over to some 3-4 looks, can’t wait. I also look forward to some 3 safety looks with Mike Mitchell in the box.

  • xfactor247

    Yeah Guy if we get Cam Thomas with our 4th that would be SICK, another impact player who can play now!!

  • Coach on Wheels

    Veldheer has better MUCH better film than Campbell with only slightly lower competition. A dominant Div II vs an avg ACC guy? Veldheer is far more skilled and more athletic than the freak in several areas. With OL agility and footwork trump 40 time.

  • Chris in NY

    chrisram73 Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:50 pm
    Raiders drafted well.
    Broncos drafted well.
    Chiefs drafted well.

    AFC West looking to bring it in a few years!

    —————————-

    I’ve gotta disagree.

    - Haven’t been blown away by our draft but will remain optimistic.
    - Chiefs got Berry who should be great, but didn’t they have bigger needs than McCluster at the top of Round 2? Had no interest in picking him. And what does he do for them that Jamaal Charles can’t.
    - Donks have had a wacky draft. If the Raiders had done those things we’d be getting laughed at by every TV analyst jagoff and obnoxious fan you could find.
    - Chargers grossly overpaid to move up and get Matthews, who is definitely good but has a long injury history and plays probably the deepest position in the league in terms of talent.

    I’ve been quite happy with the decisions the other AFC West teams have been making lately.

  • YoungAmerican

    If Houston is going to be a DE, I’d like to see:

    4. DT Cam Thomas
    5. G Mitch Petrus
    5. CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
    6. OT Sam Young or Bruce Campbell, or C Matt Tennant
    7. FB Matt Clapp

    Trade some picks in next year’s draft for QB Troy Smith, or wait until Jason Campbell gets cut by Washington.

  • Chris in NY

    Coach on Wheels Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:59 pm
    Veldheer has better MUCH better film than Campbell with only slightly lower competition. A dominant Div II vs an avg ACC guy? Veldheer is far more skilled and more athletic than the freak in several areas. With OL agility and footwork trump 40 time.

    ———————-

    How many Hillsdale games have you seen? And did they cover the spread against the Fashion Institute of Technology this year?

  • xfactor247

    I agree 100% Chris

  • aig

    I think Decker and McCluster are gonna be great pro’s. Decker can catch in traffic. McCluster is a lighter version of Percy harvin. Even Monte Kiffin’s D with Dan Williamns and Eric Berry can’t stop McCluster from getting 276 rushing yds on them. McCluster for rookie of the year.

  • aig

    xfactor,

    good call on veldheer. I expected Tony Washington but never even heard of Veld.

  • Guy

    how much would it take to move back into the 4th? I have no knowledge of this so sorry if I sound stupid but maybe we trade our 4th and like a 6th and 7th to move up to the rams 4th rounder to be sure we can have Thomas.

    The Vikings, Skins, and the texans may be looking for a NT. Would a team give up a 4th for Morrison? I am pretty sure Al would want Akwasi.

  • cmiychludwig

    GREAT DRAFT SO FAR!!! TAKE MATT NICHOLS (QB- EWU) IN THE FIFTH!!!!!!!!!!!

  • YoungAmerican

    The thing about Bruce Campbell if you watch him play, is that he lunges at defenders instead of getting his feet set and dominating them at the line.

  • 24

    First off…I called Houston becoming a DE but I didn’t know he would be the LE. I was thinking RE because hes very good at rushing the passer as a big man.

    As far as Veldheer, this pick reminds me of the Mike Mitchell pick in the 2nd round last year.

  • buckeyeraider

    I think the Raider D has the potential to be pretty fierce this coming season. They are defenitely deeper in the front seven. I believe they are going to attack QB’s IN WAVES! Cable talking about moving L. Houston to DE kinda confuses me though. I thought we were set at end with Seymour, ShoNasty and maybe Groves,Wimbley, and or Trevor Scott putting a hand down on passing downs. DT is where I thought we were thin, with the release of Warren. Apparently they are still in the market for a run stuffer in the middle. Who is still available? Travis Ivey? Is Cam Thomas considered a run stuffer?

  • YoungAmerican

    If the Raiders are going to use Houston at DE, I’d like to see the rest of the draft go like this:

    4. DT Cam Thomas
    5. G Mitch Petrus or Marshall Newhouse
    5. CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
    6. OT Sam Young or Bruce Campbell, or C Matt Tennant
    7. FB Matt Clapp

    Trade some picks in next year’s draft for QB Troy Smith, or wait until Jason Campbell gets cut by Washington.

  • xfactor247

    I really think Al is going to give JRuss one more shot, I mean I would like to see us pick up Troy Smith, familiar with OC and has a big arm, but I think Al is going to ride with JRuss this year and go to Bruce if he struggles. If JRuss has his average season then we move on, look for the kid out of Stanford.

  • cmiychludwig

    Anybody else big on Matt Nichols in the late rounds? Or is it just me…

  • xfactor247

    Aig, Tony Washington is a good prospect and I think we might be able to get him in the 5th or 6th because of his “off field issues”

  • Chris in NY

    I think at best McCluster is another Troy Brown (former Patriot). Troy, you may recall, was one of Pioli’s guys on the Patriots. Small and not all that fast but exceptionally quick and could make things happen. Not a Pro Bowl type guy at all, but a nice role player. That’s what I see in McCluster.

  • aig

    Chris,

    al didnt reach for Veldheer…here is what Pat Kirwin said.

    Small-school prospect with a chance
    The big colleges usually gobble up the large, athletic kids coming out of high school, but keep an eye on two prospects with a real chance to have good careers.

    Hillsdale College’s Jared Veldheer, a gigantic tackle candidate at 6-8, 312, and Massachusetts’ Vlad Ducasse, a guard-tackle type, are worth keeping an eye on.

    In sitting with a few offensive line coaches at the combine, they really liked the movement skills from Veldheer. Even though Ducasse struggled at the Senior Bowl, he demonstrated the athletic ability to make it. Both prospects need time, but look for them to come off the board in the second or third round.

    —————-
    The fans didnt know about him but the scouts did.

  • Coach on Wheels

    Current Roster

    DT – D Bryant,W Joseph, T Kelly,

    DE – C Cooper, q Groves, G Gunheim, J Richardson, M Shuaghnessy, R Seymour, L Houston

  • Guy

    Will Akwasi be available in the 5th? I think we may need to switch him with Petrus/Newhouse. Change Campbell to Tony Washington, I think someone will take a chance on the workout warrior.

  • Guy

    Groves is listed as a LB Coach on Wheels

  • Chris in NY

    YoungAmerican Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:03 pm
    The thing about Bruce Campbell if you watch him play, is that he lunges at defenders instead of getting his feet set and dominating them at the line.

    ————————–

    I feel like that’s what happens oftentimes with guys who are so physically superior to their opponents in college. They rely on their athleticism to bail them out and develop bad habits in terms of technique.

    But if they’re coachable and hard-working — and Campbell definitely seems like a good kid from everything I’ve seen — that’s the kind of stuff that’s correctable. You can correct technique if a guy’s willing to work. But you can’t just slap 36 inch arms, tight end caliber agility, a chiseled 6-5 315 pound frame and elite physical power onto a guy.

    I don’t think we even get a chance to pass on him again.

  • Tom cables pimp hand

    Plunketthead Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:36 pm
    Al better dump JR before Cable unleashes the pimp hand

    ——————————————-

    you daaaaaamn right(in shafts voice).

  • buckeyeraider

    Goodnight Raider fans.
    looking forward to tomorrow. Still some good football players available.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Faph57A7Kg0 r8eray

    Everson Griffen @ 106?

  • aig

    Chris,

    dont look at McCluster for his size or 40 speed. The guy can bench 20x 225 for 175lbs. He is quicker than fast. He has tons of moves and The D hardly ever get a good lick on him in the SEC. I was hoping we’d get him but he can do WR and RB. I’m telling you he is a lighter version of Percy Harvin.

  • Guy

    Do we need more pass rushing linebackers? We need Cam Thomas, Mitch Petrus, Akwasi, then a center in that order.