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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.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Coach on Wheels

    Chris

    Mayock broke down film on both and said Mr V was an excellent pick. He also said he’d never pick campbell if he were GM.

    It is easier to see a big guy with good technique adapt to NFL competition than a track guy with poor skills improve. v was a top 10 OT on most boards. according to pft Campbell was a 4th rder on most boards.

  • aig

    I know Al is going to reach tomorrow. The old geezer can’t help himself so I still expect a shot at Campbell or Tony Washington.

  • Chris in NY

    aig Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:09 pm
    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.

    ——————————–

    I was aware of him. And from everything I’ve read he was projected as a 3rd rounder so I’m not saying it was a reach. I’ve just been really high on Campbell for awhile and I’m afraid this is going to be the time we pass on the athletic freak and that freak goes on to be a Hall of Fame type talent.

    Watch Bruce Campbell become the cautionary tale for the “don’t overlook the workout phenom” in future draft chatter — kind of the revers of the Mike Mamula story. Similar to how Moss and Sapp are remembered when teams pass on talented players with “character issues.”

  • Coach on Wheels

    Yeah stupid “official roster” had Groves and Wimbely as DE and no Seymour at all. yeesh.

  • http://www.wix.com/GGEden/ggeden GG

    I think the Broncos ARE getting criticism for their draft.
    Tom Waddle and even Tom Jackson got stuck into Josh McDaniels and think they made terrible draft moves.

  • Guy

    I would take Tony Washington over Campbell any day. Read he was a first round talent but went to a small school and you know the incident with his sister. I would prefer what I said in post 50 though.

  • aig

    I think Al drafted V to play right Guard. he got short arms so another Robert Gallery?

  • BSmith37

    I played with Matt Nichols at EWU from 05-08 and he is the real deal. I played safety and had to go up against him everyday and loved to hate him in practice because he would always find a way to thread the ball into traffic. Not the classic Al Davis pick but a competitor who loves to win above all else and would be a great QB to groom.

  • aig

    I’m with you Chris on Campbell. I’m all for taking a risk on campbell now.

  • Guy

    Are there any Nose tackles other than Thomas left? Atleast V. wasn’t a top ten pick like Gallery.

  • Chris in NY

    aig Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:17 pm
    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.

    ———————–

    I said he’s exceptionally quick, just not all that fast and extremely small. I think he’s another Troy Brown. Hell, Troy Brown had a very long career and won several rings in New England. He was a great role player. But if you’re a team like the Chiefs who have been at the bottom of the barrel for almost as long as we have, I think I’d swing a little bigger and try to fill some more pressing needs.

  • Coach on Wheels

    Chris – Campbell is a value pick in the 4th while Mr V was as you said a 3rd. Campbell is like a Mike Bush pick. big risk but possible big reward. I wouldn’t be upset if they get him here on.

    i like the Cam idea too.

  • stabler

    Look for us to grab a RB tomorrow, Cable said yesterday he wants to address the lines and RB in the draft.

    So far I really like the picks, hopefully we can get a guard who can step in and start next year, along with a starting FB. My God, most of the posts today are positive, I have NEVER seen that on here before.

  • YoungAmerican

    Wishful thinking:

    4. DT Cam Thomas
    5. CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
    5. G Mitch Petrus or Marshall Newhouse
    6. OT Sam Young or C Matt Tennant
    7. RB LeGarrette Blount
    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

    Campbell is obviously the guy I really, really want next. I said it in the previous two rounds and was wrong but I have a very strong feeling we’ll have to move up possibly all the way to the Rams pick to get him now. Maybe our 4th and 6th would get that done.

    Other than Campbell I’d be pleased with Cam Thomas, DT, North Carolina or Mike Kafka, QB, Northwestern.

  • RaiderNsuede

    Im on Board with a DT an OG and a QB…Jarrett Brown in the 6th or Mike Kafka in the 5th if we don’t trade any of our 6 remaining picks! This could be a helluva draft for the Raiders.

  • Guy

    64 That would be a dream draft, but we may need to trade up for Thomas. Vikings, Texans, and Skins may be looking for a NT. Not sure about the eagles or seahawks. To be safe, I’d try to unload howard or morrison or both for the rams 4th rounder. I think Howard may fit in Tampa’s system too.

  • aig

    Chris,

    guys like Sproles gives us hell. I think McCluster has more tools than Sproles. I think we are going to struggle to contain that guy when we face them.

  • YoungAmerican

    # Guy Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    64 That would be a dream draft, but we may need to trade up for Thomas. Vikings, Texans, and Skins may be looking for a NT. Not sure about the eagles or seahawks. To be safe, I’d try to unload howard or morrison or both for the rams 4th rounder. I think Howard may fit in Tampa’s system too.

    ——————

    That would not be a bad idea at all. At least that way we get some value out of Morrison or Howard, instead of having to cut one (or both) of them.

  • aig

    Kafka and Canfield (oregon state) both visited the Raiders so I expect one of these 2 guys to be taken later. I think Canfield because he has a stronger arm and we know all about that with Al.

  • Chris in NY

    As for RB I really like Blount, Lonyae Miller and Joe McKnight. Really like all three of those guys. McKnight is the speedy, big-play guy. Blount is the 245 pound hammer. Miller is the guy who can break off the big play but also goes about 6-0, 225.

  • RaiderNsuede

    I agree.

    Pick up Campbell if he is still around. Moving up to grab him should not be a problem. We need another Guard ASAP and a DT. I take it up its a toss up btwn CB and QB in the 5th for me.

  • YoungAmerican

    I think Blount will drop because of “character concerns”. The Raiders could take him with a 6th or 7th rounder. He’d help a whole lot in goal line situations.

  • Chris in NY

    aig Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:32 pm
    Chris,

    guys like Sproles gives us hell. I think McCluster has more tools than Sproles. I think we are going to struggle to contain that guy when we face them.

    ——————-

    Sproles is a really talented guy who’s more powerful and has greater breakaway speed than McCluster. McCluster has better hands. Pretty much a tie in terms of quickness. Don’t forget Sproles was a phenomenal player at Kansas State. I believe he was even more productive in college than McCluster but I’d have to go back and check the stats.

  • Chris in NY

    4. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
    5. Mike Kafka, QB, Northwestern
    5. Lonyae Miller, RB, Fresno State
    6. Jon Conner, FB, Kentucky
    7. Travis Ivey, DT, Maryland

    Hit up Kevin Mawae, a reasonable No. 4 CB and maybe even T.O. in free agency.

  • Coach on Wheels

    DT – Thomas was a projected 2-3 rd guy. A good value at #8 in the 4th. A center or guard maybe nice too.

  • Chris in NY

    Forgot we have another 7th:

    4. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
    5. Mike Kafka, QB, Northwestern
    5. Lonyae Miller, RB, Fresno State
    6. Jon Conner, FB, Kentucky
    7. Travis Ivey, DT, Maryland
    7. Brandon Carter, G, Texas Tech

    Hit up Kevin Mawae, a reasonable No. 4 CB and maybe even T.O. in free agency.

  • Coach on Wheels

    Looks like we can get a qb with out 2nd 5th rd pick.

  • Kirk

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

    There is no doubt who he is talking about…

  • aig

    man, i tell you…if you can make the money, come out and forget college balls.

    All projected first rounders in 09 – Taylor Mays, Greg Hardy DE, Javon Sneade QB. Dumba$$$es came back to college for what? Now they are all losing a ton of money. Javon Sneade had a 1 game wonder like Jamarcus and he could have cashed in big time.

  • Chris in NY

    Chris in NY Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 pm
    Forgot we have another 7th:

    4. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
    5. Mike Kafka, QB, Northwestern
    5. Lonyae Miller, RB, Fresno State
    6. Jon Conner, FB, Kentucky
    7. Travis Ivey, DT, Maryland
    7. Brandon Carter, G, Texas Tech

    If we went that route we will have added through the draft and draft-related trades:
    - 3 o-linemen
    - 3 LBs
    - 2 DTs
    - 1 QB
    - 1 RB
    - 1 FB

    That would be a perfect formula for bolstering the trenches on both sides of the ball and adding a couple skill position guys in Round 5 with intriguing upside.

  • http://www.wix.com/GGEden/ggeden GG

    Question is…is JR still being a knuckle-head to have now twice been targeted by Cable in comments in two days.

  • 30 year raider

    ok guys so far so good there are stil plety of football players out there who can help us out…

    4th rd. game breaker wr/kr jacoby ford
    5th rd. mike kafka qb
    5th rd. strongest man in the draft jeff owens nt — i beleive he popped off 225lbs 44 times
    6th rd. og brandon carter or jeff byers i like byers here cuz he can also play center
    7th. rd fb conner or jameson konz
    7th. rd. stafon johnson rb SO CAL

  • fat kidd

    How about a kick returner cause we sucked at that

  • 30 year raider

    got it for you fat boy next pick jacoby ford

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    What happened to all of the positivity? Wow. Now suddenly everyone is talking Russell and how he’s dragging down the team. You guys are wet towels. Killjoys. I’m celebrating the draft, and all of your debbie downers keep talking about how Russell is going to ruin everything.

  • Kirk

    JR will always be a knucklehead.

    The first time I heard him interviewed, I thought, “Uh, oh…”

  • Guy

    No
    4th: try to trade up to get cam thomas just to be safe. If they get him, go Washington or Campbell
    5a. Akwasi
    5b. Petrus
    6a. Brandon Carter/Marshall Newhouse/center
    6b. Center/Brandon Carter/Newhouse
    7a. FB
    7b. Fast guy

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    I think Tebow has character issues.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    You guys are too negative. Any real fans in here want to stop being negative and join me in celebrating this great draft? Everyone is talking about how bad Russell is. Depressing.

  • EMRaiders

    Losman, Frye, Gradkowski and Boller should all pay really close attention at what’s going on right now with the draft. It is a complete retooling job and if they were smart, they would realize that the QB job is wide open for the taking.
    If they really want it, they need to work their butts off and be really smart with their play making decisions and seize the opportunity.
    I don’t include Russell in this list because he has shown no passion for the game. Though I still believe that Al will have him starting the season, so in order for that not to happen would be for one of the other QBs to make such an impact during training camp and preseason that it would be extremely hard to justify Russell starting.

    Kafka is the next Brady. (5th round selection)

  • YoungAmerican

    Kafka could be good, but I really like Dan LeFevour.

  • Raiders4eve

    Just a quick question, why did the Raiders settle for a sixth rounder from the patriots when they got a fifth rounder from the Bucs, they should have asked for a fifth rounder. The Bucs moved up three spots and we got a fifth for that, the Patriots moved up two spots we got a late sixth round what the hell???

    Patriots receive:
    Second-round pick (No. 42)

    Raiders receive:
    Second-round pick (No. 44) Sixth-round pick (No. 190)

    Buccaneers receive:
    Second-round pick (No. 39)

    Raiders receive:
    Second-round pick (No. 42)Fifth-round pick (No. 153)

  • fat kidd

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm
    got it for you fat boy next pick jacoby ford
    ………………………………………
    i did not like him on video he had good hands ,he is too fast,a track star,he was always wide open, and when he wasnt he still caught the ball,and when he was returning kicks he always ends up in the end zone.

  • 30 year raider

    Raiders4eve Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Just a quick question, why did the Raiders settle for a sixth rounder from the patriots when they got a fifth rounder from the Bucs, they should have asked for a fifth rounder. The Bucs moved up three spots and we got a fifth for that, the Patriots moved up two spots we got a late sixth round what the hell???
    ###########################################

    i thought the same thing i dont know why we didnt get a 5th rd pick either.. i didnt get that.. im still pleased with getting a havoc reeker in houston tho

  • http://www.wix.com/GGEden/ggeden GG

    # YoungAmerican Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Kafka could be good, but I really like Dan LeFevour.

    ——

    I agree. Not sure how long he’ll last but he’s a quality prospect.

  • 30 year raider

    # fat kidd Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm
    got it for you fat boy next pick jacoby ford
    ………………………………………
    i did not like him on video he had good hands ,he is too fast,a track star,he was always wide open, and when he wasnt he still caught the ball,and when he was returning kicks he always ends up in the end zone.
    ########################################

    what??? i dont get u fatt boy what are u talking about

  • fat kidd

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:13 pm
    # fat kidd Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm
    got it for you fat boy next pick jacoby ford
    ………………………………………
    i did not like him on video he had good hands ,he is too fast,a track star,he was always wide open, and when he wasnt he still caught the ball,and when he was returning kicks he always ends up in the end zone.
    ########################################

    what??? i dont get u fatt boy what are u talking about

    joking meant i like him

  • 30 year raider

    # fat kidd Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:13 pm
    # fat kidd Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    30 year raider Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm
    got it for you fat boy next pick jacoby ford
    ………………………………………
    i did not like him on video he had good hands ,he is too fast,a track star,he was always wide open, and when he wasnt he still caught the ball,and when he was returning kicks he always ends up in the end zone.
    ########################################

    what??? i dont get u fatt boy what are u talking about

    joking meant i like him
    ##################################

    oh ok listen i know for months you have been STRESSING THE RETURN GAME… i agree i cant help but remember on thanksgiving game at cowboys stadium the kid next to me sayin ” whos that fat kick-returner yall have” it was embarising watching gary russel back there…

  • aig

    does anyone know if Dan LeFevour visited the Raiders?