A transcription of Tom Cable’s post-draft press conference:
Cable: Let me open up by just talking about the draft. I feel like we’re lucky. You get 11 players and what I mean by 11 is the nine that we drafted over the last three days. Obviously we used an earlier three on Kamerion Wimbley and then an earlier five on Groves, Quentin Groves the defensive end. Put those guys together, that’s your draft. We made a couple moves inside the draft that were very beneficial for us as a football team. After that the thing that is most important is we improved our team. We filled a lot of needs. That’s how you would categorize draft, a need-filled draft for the Oakland Raiders.
Q: Does the positive perception of this draft change the culture of negativity?
Cable: You know how I’ve been. For a while I’ve said at some point things will start to change. The only way to do that is to do things that make people feel like there’s change, make it feel like you’re improving your team and doing what it takes to improve your team. If that’s the feeling out there it would be second to the feeling in that draft room. We realized when we got going in this thing that there was a great feel that we were getting good football players. Guys that you could see how they’d have a chance to compete and compete on this team for jobs and
help us be a much better football team.
Q: Jason Campbell told NFL Network he believed he was the starter, what does that mean for JaMarcus Russell?
Cable: We really never got into any of that. What it comes down to is that we’ve got five quarterbacks now and we’re going to have a great competition. There will be some decisions to be made here in the next month or so, whatever that is. We’ll just leave it at that until we get through some of those decisions. Right now we felt like adding Jason to this football team was very important. He’s a guy in need of a fresh start himself. He’s proven that he can do some things and have some success in the NFL. We’re all familiar enough with Jason to know that
we’re getting a guy who has proven he can play in the NFL. We have five quarterbacks. We’ll have great competition and we’ll have decisions to make here real soon.
Q: Surprised Bruce Campbell slipped to fourth round?
Cable: As I said all along, he’s a numbers guy, extraordinary numbers really when you get down to it for an offensive lineman. We like him. We got him right where we thought he fit. The feeling in the room was the draft kept coming to us. When he was there it was pretty much a no-brainer. It gave us more depth, it gave us more competition in the offensive line. It’s a good pick really.
Q: When did you first start talking to the Redskins?
Cable: We worked on it a little bit. Once we were able to see where we were at and what we need to do to get this team to where we want it to go then it became obvious, let’s get to work on trying to improve it. The quarterback talk came out. Once that happened we moved quickly.
Q: Any way JaMarcus could start?
Cable: Well sure there is if he competes for the job and he’s doing all those things that your starting quarterback is supposed to do. If he’s the best guy than yeah.
Q: What special skill does Jason Campbell bring to the mix?
Cable: You know, probably you’re looking at a little more height, more arm than a couple guys, pretty good athlete, can run around like a couple guys. So he may have a little bit of everyone in him, to be quite honest with you. I don’t think you’d categorize him like you would JaMarcus or categorize him like Charlie or Bruce, Kyle. I mean, they’re all kind of different in their own way and I suppose Jason’s got a little bit of everybody in him.
Q: Filled a lot of needs, anything you missed in the draft that you’d liked to have had?
Cable: Yeah, I mean, you know, I thought there was another move to get in there, it didn’t come our way. But very pleased. But, you know, you can always do better. I’m sure after we have some time to reflect on it, Jerry, we’ll look on it and say, ‘Man, I wish we could’ve done that or that.’ But shoot, man, that’s a heck of a draft for the Raiders. It really is. And as you said, you can put some checkmarks next to some very important issues in this football team.
Q: Is Campbell a better fit for this offense than he was for West Coast?
Cablel: I don’t know about all that. I just think he fits for what we’re doing. All that stuff, this game’s really about opportunity, and catching some breaks and having good people around you, regardless of what system you’re in. So I just think he’s got something new to look forward to, as do many players on this football team, and hopefully we are a good fit for him.
Q: Is Jacoby Ford your punt and kickoff guy now, and how far is he from being an NFL receiver?
Campbell: There’s some work that needs to be done. I don’t think he’s any different than a lot of guys coming out of college. But specifically, you kind of hit it on the head. I’m looking for that guy to see if he’ll take the reins of our return game and become a guy like that for us. And I think those are the expectations early on, as we get ready to have mini-camp next week and get ready for OTAs after that. But there’s certainly a role for that on this football team, and we picked him with that in mind. He’s obviously a very fast guy. He shared return duties with C.J. Spiller, which is a pretty tough guy to share ‘em with. But prior to C.J. getting all the returns, he was the guy in high school and prep school and early at Clemson, and he’s really about as phenomenal as C.J. Spiller was. So we just felt like have to do it, gotta have it, because, you know, we need to change the game in the return game. We’re very good at covering kicks here. We’ve proven that for a period of time now. But we’ve not been very good in the return game and hopefully he can add to that.
Q: Whose decision to trade down?
Cable: Well, it’s the best thing for us. One thing I’m really proud of, I think as a team today, the organization, and that includes everyone, the coaches and the scouts and everybody involved, the owner, we were in synch. We worked together on it, and it just made the most sense, you know? We were fortunate when it was time to do those things that our guy, A or B, was still there. And so you knew you were gonna get A or B, and you could afford to move around a little bit. And it just worked out good for us.
Q: Excited about seeing Bruce Campbell on special teams?
Cable: I think that’s what you do with someone like that. You know, in high school he was a defensive lineman, a defensive end in fact, as well as an offensive lineman, and then went to Maryland and played on the offensive line. Can run, can jump. He’s extremely trim, big guy. But right now we’re gonna put him there at right guard and right tackle and let him go to work. And let’s get him started there and we’ll see what else he can do after that.
Q: So he can be an inside player for you?
Cable: Definitely. Yeah, definitely.
Q: Who contacted whom about Jason Campbell?
Cable: We were contacted. We were contacted by a lot of people, first of all. That was just one of the many phone calls. So, you listen to some, some you don’t. That one we happened to listen to.
Q: Washington struggled protecting Campbell, how might your offensive line mesh with him?
Campbell: Well, first and foremost, both offensive lines have to get a lot better. To really answer your question, the quarterback, his job is to make good decisions, get it out of his hand as quick as he can. In both places, both the units need to play much better than what they did. I don’t know how they’re going to complement each other, other than he’s going to be better at what we ask him to do and we got to be better at protecting him.
Q: What’s your take on your late-round picks?
Cable: Yeah, Goethel excites me for the fact that he’s a true inside linebacker that’s a tough, downhill player. Just as important, he’s going to enhance our special teams. That gives us a real quality guy there. Ware, I liked him at corner, from Michigan State . He’s a guy that’s extremely good playing the gunner in special teams, was a jammer on the punt return team, but he can play man-coverage. So, you like him. McFadden, probably to us, he was the one we were really geeked about today because we thought he was going to go earlier. And he was there for us. We think he definitely can come in and help this football team right away. Ford, we talked about the kick return ability. I would think Goethel, McFadden, Ware, Brown, all those guys there, can have a real role on this football team.
Q: Have you talked to Russell, and will he be at the mini camp?
Cable: Yeah, there’s no reason for him not to be here. I have not talked to him yet. I haven’t talked to anyone other than the players that have been drafted and focused on that. We’re working on free agency right now. We’ll reach out to who we need to.
Q: Is Bruce Campbell’s big issue his consistency?
Cable: You hit it on the head, the consistency in how he plays the game fundamentally, He is raw. You’ve got like this giant piece of clay to develop here. It’s a good piece to work with. There are some things fundamentally that he will improve on very quickly because of the athleticism, because of the fact that at this level he’s going to have to figure that out very quickly because of the competition. Probably the biggest thing that I see for Bruce is that Bruce is going to have to understand that at this level it’s such a demanding thing every day in your life as an offensive lineman. How you take care of your body, how you train, all those (things). He’s going to be great at that because he already looks like a monster the way he is, looks, is built, the whole thing. But, mentally, how you prepare, how hard you work every day, how hard you have to play every time the ball gets snapped will be the first hurdle he has to get over. Once he does that, this guy is going to be something.
Q: To clarify, was Jason Campbell told that he is the unquestioned starter?
Cable: No, no. I was in that conversation. It was Al and I. We didn’t even ever talk about that. In his mind, he’s coming to compete, he’s been a starter, so I can certainly respect that. But it never was part of the conversation. So, it’s really insignificant right now. That will be decided (later).
Q: Did you talk to Heyward-Bey about Bruce Campbell?
Cable: Yes, I did. Yep. One of the things that I value a lot through this whole process is the players on our team that have been around these guys that we’re drafting or potentially are going to draft. I put a lot of weight on that because I trust these guys. They’re Raiders, and they know that what we’re trying to build is what they want, and that’s to win and succeed. So, I just tell them, ‘Tell me straight, can this guy help us be a playoff team or not? If he can’t and you can tell me why he can’t, I’m good with it. If he can, and you can tell me why he can, I’m good with that, too.
Q: The early reviews are positive, compare how you feel today with how you felt last year?
Cable: I think we’re very excited right now. We can walk out of the building today and we’re going to say, you know what, the Raiders got better today, we improved and it’s not just trying to be positive and all that stuff. It’s real, you can see it, it’s there, it’s not just saying it, I think it’s everyone that knows this game and knows the draft and all those kind of things. We walk out of this place a better football team. So we’ll go to minicamp and we’ll go to work. It’s time to build that football team now. But we’re better and I think that’s the way everybody feels.
Q: But you’re feeling better than in past years?
Cable: I think there’s a little more excitement, because we were able to get who we wanted with the first pick and we were able to get who we wanted with the second pick and we were able to do it by moving around a little bit and creating more for our team down the road, and that was really cool. Then we get to the third pick, and we said, let’s be patient, let’s be patient, it’s our turn, and then the guy we said we wanted to have was there. I mentioned after the first day, everyone wanted to have Okung and Williams, those tackles, they’re good players, but they’re not (there), you’ve got to do a great job evaluating, and where we were going to be, Veldheer was the guy for us and it just worked out, so we felt like we were able to move back, get a couple of picks, we got who want, got who we want, then we got the tackle we wanted, and it was like, right on, man, let’s see what Saturday brings and we’ll go from there.
Q: How long should Gradkowski be off the field and how much of a setback is it?
Cable: I don’t know that it does right now. I don’t know the exact answer for you on that. I know he’s going to be ready prior to camp. So that means this summer sometime. He’s probably not going to do a lot between now and then. Any time you get injured it sets you back, so that’s not good in that sense. I know Bruce, as soon as I say, hey, are you ready to go?, man, he’s kicking and screaming saying, here I go. From that standpoint. I don’t think it’s going to hold him back. The injury in itself is going to keep him from getting work, but we’ll have him for camp. That’s the best way to look at it.
Q: You have to make tough business decisions, but how hard is to part with a guy like Morrison?
Cable: I’m glad you brought that up. I think, from me, personally, to Kirk, thanks. Thanks for working. Thanks for being a Raider. Thanks for his honor. You guys know me, that’s big deal to me and Kirk Morrison is an honorable, honorable man, and the way he went at it was the right way, and so, parting with guys in this business, at this level is tough sometimes. He’s a tough one, but at the same time, he’s going to be fine in Jacksonville and he’ll do well there., but you’ve got to take your hat off to Kirk and what he stood for being an Oakland Raider.
Q: Couldn’t find a fullback to your liking?
Cable: We had a couple of guys targeted that got taken, but we’re looking at a couple of guys in free agency and we’ll certainly address it .
Q: Might you be interested in Alan Faneca?
Cable: I don’t know right now. We’ve got Robert Gallery playing left guard, who’s a fine, fine player, and hopefully he’ll be healthy this year and stay healthy, so at this point, we’re not opposed to anything, but I’m not that sure it makes the most sense to us.