By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at 1:19 am in Oakland Raiders.
A transcription of Raiders’ coach Tom Cable talking about Day 2 of the 2010 NFL draft:
Q: You said you wanted to do something about the run defense. Is that what you had with the first two picks?
Cable: Yeah. I think Lamarr Houston will play defensive end in our scheme. We expect the transition to be easy for him. He played it the first half of his college career, so there’s a lot of background there. He gives you a guy, again, that’s got the right qualities in terms of a 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. And then more importantly to me he comes and fits a need for us, which is in the defensive front. And then Jared Veldheer, the third pick, an offensive tackle from Hillsdale, the best tackle available there, a guy we had in for a visit and knew a lot about him. You have to do your homework on those guys from smaller schools, but thrilled to get him.
Q: How hard is it to project those small school guys, and what is it about Jared you liked?
Cable: The biggest thing I think when you start projecting – if we didn’t see him in all-star games, if we didn’t see him play up, if we didn’t see him at the combine, things like that, then I think you’d have some bigger questions. But seeing him against better competition, he performed very, very well. Here’s a guy that I think has the ability to play on either side. And so that’s a big deal. For that much height, he’s a shorter inseam, longer body guy, which translates into a very good offensive lineman.”
Q: McClain and Houston said they hadn’t had that much contact with the Raiders. Is that because you just had such a wealth of information on them? Veldheer said he visited here and met Al Davis . . .
Cable: Well, really, I think we’ve tried to keep it to ourselves maybe as much if not more than ever this year. As I said last week in the pre-draft news conference and then again last night, it’s important for us to make this team better and put some real need-fitters in the program rather than just numbers guys, if you will. I think thus far, very excited about what we’ve been able to do. As I said last week at the pre-draft news conference and again last night. It’s important for us to make this team better and put some real need-fitters in the program rather than just numbers guys if you will. Thus far, very excited about what we’ve been able to do. Tomorrow is a huge day. We were able to make some trades, which was part of the strategy. Both the players we liked there in the second were there, and they were there again and they were there again. People wanted to do business and we were able to do that. I think put together with what hopefully will be a good draft tomorrow on the last day.
Q: How confident were you that you’d still get Houston after the trades. Did you ask the teams if they’d take Houston?
Cable: You can’t really do that because you’d show too much of your hand. But we had targeted two guys so we knew if they’re both there we’re going to get one of them. Fortunately the one we wanted was Lamarr and he stayed in there and stayed in there. After the second trade we were like, ‘That’s enough. We’re driving ourselves crazy here.’ It worked out
great. That’s who we wanted.
Q: How much of a project is Veldheer. Will he take a while?
Cable: Not very long. As I mentioned he’s tall but he’s a long-bodied guy, shorter inseam. His tail is closer to the ground than a normal 6-8 guy. Not a basketball player I guess is the best way to put it. Plenty of length and has played both left and right. Tremendous athlete. To run that fast that big says a lot. If you’ve seen any film on him his ability to bend and his power numbers at that size, 32 in the bench. He has a lot of good things that make him up. To me it’s just getting here and getting playing. I’m pretty excited about Jared because I feel like this is going to be a short window for him and he can contribute.
Q: Do you see him more on one side or the other?
Cable: I see him coming here and going right into it, being the third and competing to be a starter somewhere. That’s why you draft them that early. I’m pleased about it. The best football player in the offensive line was him. I don’t want to say we’re getting lucky but we’re feeling pretty good because things are going our way in that regard.
Q: If Houston is an end, won’t you be a little light at tackle still?
Cable: No. You’ll see the plan when we get there. It’s good. You’ll like it . . . It’s good. But we have some things we’re putting together to get it all sorted out, but you’ll see it in mini-camp.
Q: Why do you like Houston more as an end than a tackle?
Cable: I think because what we’re trying to do is become a little more physical in our defensive front. I think that’s obvious with what we’ve drafted there with our first two picks. You might see some people moved around a little bit, and it gives us a chance to line him up at left end and let him go wrestle with the tight end all day, and that’s a good thing. I think he’s gonna win a lot of those battles.
Q: When was the first time you noticed Veldheer during his Texas All-Star game?
Cable: Yeah. You hit it on the nose. The games like that, the East-West Game, they’re really kind of where you find kids that maybe didn’t get to the Senior Bowl and everybody kind of classifies that as THE game. But they’re there, and they’re competing against other really good players, and you look at the number of players coming out of both those games, the Texas-Nation Game, the East-West Game, they’re getting drafted, it’s high, high numbers. So the important thing for me was to see him play up, see him play better talent and see him compete at that level, and he did that very, very well. And at the combine, I think what I was most impressed, here’s a kid from Hillsdale and it was like, this is no big deal. I belong here with Alabama, with ‘SC, with penn State, with whoever. And he fit right in, and he’s carried himself that way. As I mentioned, we brought him here for a visit, and I had a chance to sit down with him and really kind of figure him out a little bit and talk to him. And so, I like what I saw.
Q: What are the other holes you hope to address on Day 3?
Cable: You know, I think the biggest thing we need to do now, we gotta go back in there and kind of sit down and look at the board and rework it for tomorrow, you know? There’s been a lot of good players come off the board, there’s still a lot of good ones left. As I mentioned, this draft was gonna carry itself pretty deep. I think pretty much every team is saying that, and it’s true. So the biggest thing tonight is to go back in there, sit down and really ramp it back up again about where it’s at and who’s gonna be available. We pick eighth tomorrow morning, and we’ll go from there. We’ve got two fives, a six and two sevens, so a lot of work to do. But we have issues. Let’s see what’s still up there, to see if we can still fix some of those areas. I don’t think the line of scrimmage, I don’t know that we’re done there yet. In terms of the backfield on both sides – defensive backfield, offensive backfield – let’s see what’s available. And when I go back up there, I could probably answer that for you in about two hours.
Q: Scouting reports indicated Veldheer had short arms . . . is that an issue?
Cable: His arms are like 33 1/8, which is still pretty long. He’s 6-8, 312 pounds, so I’m not sure that you really have to show your arms. I mean, you start talking about a guy under 33, then yeah, I guess you could say that about offensive linemen. The number everybody likes to talk about is 34-inch arms.
Q: How do you differentiate in the last six picks. Do you select by need or by best athlete?
Cable: I think we gotta’ stay the course. I mean, I think we’re doing a tremendous job so far. We’re getting where we want to be and we were able to move there in the second (round) and build for a better draft on Saturday. But we’re getting pieces to our puzzle you know. We’re getting some issues fixed. Obviously these guys have gotta’ come in and play and perform, but I like what we’re doing. I think we just stay the course and we keep trying to make this team better specifically.
Q: Are you surprised we didn’t see a lot of the big day two trades we were led to believe would happen?
Cable: When you think about it though, there was quite a bit really. I think someone said that it’s the most trades ever in the rounds two and three, so I think there’s still a lot. What I was surprised is more of it didn’t happen before it started.
Q: Exactly . . .
Cable: So yeah. But that’s typical. We like to wait each other out and see if we can squeeze each other a little bit and see who will get nervous and you know, I’ll give you a truck for a Volkswagen or whatever, you know. That kind of deal. So, I think we just kinda’ — it went as it would, and everybody’s kinda’ playing their cards you know.
Q: Was Clausen ever a consideration?
Q: You talk about character, are there differences between Houston and Veldheer?
Cable: There’s really not. You’re talking about guys who have had a lot of success, guys who are made through hard work. Certainly, Lamarr coming from the University of Texas, he’s had a lot of success in his career and his program getting a chance to compete for a national championship this year. Those are important things to me, and so as part of it, we do
a lot of work as to are they gonna’ come and be honorable and represent this thing right and come with the right attitude. Because, getting good and turning it around, we don’t need knuckleheads. We need champions. And I think that was kinda’, as we look through it, that’s what we’re doing. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody probably has some roughness to him somewhere, but at the end of the day, their football character and how they take care of themselves and their team was outstanding.