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Raiders’ rookie midterms

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 2:24 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Assessing how Raiders rookie draft picks have fared at the bye week:

(Keep in mind the higher the pick, the more that is expected and the tougher the grade)

1/8_Rolando McClain . . . B

McClain has not been conspicuous in terms of playmaking, with only half a sack, no interceptions, a few passes defensed and no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. He’s been beaten to the outside on some pass routes by quicker running backs.

Oakland is ranked 26th against the run, but has played very well of late, giving up 75.3 yards per game on the ground in their three-game win streak. While McClain hasn’t been stuffing ballcarriers like Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis, the fact is he’s the defensive signal caller for one of the NFL’s most improved units and coach Tom Cable is of the belief that opposing linemen are not finishing blocks on the likes of Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour so they can find McClain at the second level.

2/44_Lamarr Houston . . . B-minus

Almost everyone loved the pick of Houston because of his production at Texas, but most thought of him as a classic three-technique tackle, a disruptive interior player with a high motor. Cable said from Day 1 Houston would play left end for the Raiders because he saw a player who could do a lot of damage lining up over a tight end. There were were times early in the season when Houston, who played end early in his career at Texas, did indeed look out of place.

Lately, however, Houston has played quite well. He’s holding the edge, making some plays, pressuring the quarterback. And his energy and intensity have been evident since his first day in training camp. If the Raiders are scuffling on the practice field, chances are Houston is in the middle of it, and for the most part, it’s been a good thing.

5/69_Jared Veldheer . . . B-plus

The beginning was strange when Cable suddenly made Veldheer the starting center before the opener, with the rookie from Division II Hillsdale predictably struggling. It seemed even more weird when Veldheer was then shifted back to tackle, with Samson Satele resuming his job at center. Why would they give Veldheer just one game at center against a very tough Tennessee defense and then give him the hook?

Because Cable saw the Veldheer would be needed at left tackle earlier than expected. The rookie began alternating with struggling incumbent Mario Henderson before replacing him fulltime. He’s been good enough the Raiders may be able to scratch “left tackle” off the list for the 2011 draft. He and Robert Gallery did big damage against Denver. Veldheer had some difficult moments against Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali but showed he is a quick study by walling Hali off on the 47-yard Jason Campbell to Jacoby Ford pass that set up the game winning field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.

4/106_Jacoby Ford . . . B

No player in the NFL had a more spectacular game last week than Ford, who had 6 receptions for 148 yards, setting up both the game-tying and game-winning field goals, and igniting a second-half comeback with bolt-of-lightning 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Even in training camp, Ford looked more polished than expected (although he missed some time with a quad injury) in the way that he got both feet in bounds along the sidelines and caught the ball away from his body whenever possible. Has had some drops, but not an alarming number. At this point there have been glimpses of promise and one huge game to build on.

4/108_Bruce Campbell . . . . C-minus

The Maryland combine warrior has struggled with with getting his own prodigious speed up to NFL levels in terms of turning it loose and playing with the quickness and violence necessary along the offensive line.

Instead of moving him to different positions, as Cable usually does with his offensive linemen to enhance their development and expose them to new techniques, Campbell has been at right guard since Day 1, behind starter Cooper Carlisle. Cable said Campbell is coming along, but the better the Raiders play, the more likely it is Campbell will be used sparingly all season with the hope he’ll be ready to push for a job in 2011.

5/138_Walter McFadden . . . Incomplete

McFadden’s play opened a lot of eyes during training camp, as the Auburn product looked as if he would challenge for playing time as a rookie in some packages.

However, McFadden began to have hamstring issues, which carried well into the regular season, and as a result he’s mostly been inactive or on the bench.

6/190_Travis Goethel . . . Incomplete

Goethel spent most of training camp as a backup middle linebacker along with Ricky Brown behind McClain, and his willingness to mix it up and play hard endeared himself to the coaching staff.

When the Raiders left Napa for Alameda, Goethel was quietly moved to the weakside and was even challenging for a starting job as the club decided to move Trevor Scott back to defensive end. However, Goethel’s back began to act up and he underwent a “discectomy,” a procedure in which involved the shaving of a disc in his lower back in a procedure similar to an arthroscope. It cost him the first eight games of the season.

7/215_Jeremy Ware . . . B-minus

Gets a grade bump for an end zone interception which halted a Chiefs drive at the end of the first half and kept the score at 10-0. Ware plays a very aggressive style of corner which can get him in trouble, but he doesn’t back down and after an ankle injury to Nnamdi Asomugha, the Michigan State product became the Raiders’ nickel back.

7/251_Stevie Brown . . . C-plus

Seemed to have made the final cut, only to find out later in the day he didn’t after he’d already spoken to the media. Brown opened the season on the practice squad but signed to the active roster on Sept. 19, dropped to the practice squad again, and then promoted again Sept. 23.

Brown showed a knack during training camp and preseason of being around the ball and with Michael Huff having void year in his contract, could find himself competing to be the starting free safety next year. He’s done some solid work on special teams, although he lost a touchdown on a fumble return against Seattle which Cable said the NFL confirmed was a mistake.

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  • Just Fire Baby

    Peyton is the greatest regular season QB I ever seen, but in the playoffs he falls much farther back to earth.

  • http://aldavissucks.blogspot.com/ The Real MaddenRaider

    Funny, because I was just thinking about going to El Paso/Jaurez and telling people not to trust the gringo coming down there to sell insurance.

  • Just Fire Baby

    LMAO….they don’t have a choice in the matter.

    Not insurance, their pension plan

  • Born with a Patch
  • Born with a Patch

    Fire, I have Sun Ticket so i dont go out to watch the games much. Normally i hit up hooters or BuffaloWW. We have a pretty good NMSU Sports bar on Espina just north of University called “The Game.” Food is bomb! I cant stand EP or the people there. The only good thing EP does is provide a barrier to Juarez.

  • Born with a Patch

    MR, two kids from Virginia thought they could handle Juarez so they went. they never made it back over the border. Being so close we hear alot of first hand accounts of some CRAZY ish. People over there just killin for fun everyday.

  • Born with a Patch

    MR, 352 people killed last month alone in Juazoo.

  • HayesDaze37

    Both Manning and Rivers can shred a blitz. What they cannot do is always figure out what’s coming at them. That “illusion of the blitz” thing…sometimes it’s coming, and sometimes it’s not, but the looks and shifts appear the same.

    Marshall’s been doing an excellent job in that regard.

  • Plunketthead

    The devil is taking over in Mexico. Loping off heads and leaving them on display is common practice. It will move north of the border soon.

    The insane stuff going on down there will not stop because of a line drawn on a map.

  • Plunketthead

    Speaking of destroying Mexico in order to appease our appetite for getting our heads right

    JFB, No luck finding a veggie seller in your new town?

  • Born with a Patch

    Plunk, it already has. I live about 50 miles north of El Paso so i’m real familiar with everything going on over there. The Mex Gov. doesnt care, hell, they’re the problem! they’re in on it.

  • http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ KoolKell

    Bleak Landscape around there. I can tell’ya that.

  • HayesDaze37

    Before Manning and Rivers, we’ve got to play one of the best ad-lib QB’s in the game in Roethlisberger. He’s a guy who invents on the run as well as anybody ever has.

    A key to beating him will be heavy pressure from the middle-front, but not necessarily pushing him out of the pocket. The Edge must be kept…not only against the run, but against the QB. We’ve got the coverage skills to hang with their best receivers while Ben tries to figure out where to go.

    Big Ben needs to take a pounding all day long. Seymour and Kelly will be stout, and the youngsters will clean-up, because the downfield coverage will be like a blanket.

  • YoungAmerican

    Man, watching the Utah-Notre Dame game it’s clear how much NT Ian Williams meant to ND’s rush defense. If the Raiders are looking for a younger option than John Henderson as a situational run-stopper, this kid could probably be snagged in the 5th or 6th round. He might be out for the rest of the season which will hurt his draft position, but he’ll be a good value to whoever picks him up.

  • Jonesy941

    um ok

  • HayesDaze37

    In the middle-late rounds we’ll be looking for a QB to grow, while our veteran/s at the position continue to play well enough to get us wins. Hopefully, anyway.

    I definitely don’t want to try to groom another QB from an early pick again (1st or 2nd rounds)…I’d like to stick w/ the meat & taters guys who can get in there and get dirtied up right from the start.

    In the 1st or 2nd, take just about any position but QB…followed closely by the WR position. And DHB’s “slow” growth is a perfect example of why…even though he’s right on target progression-wise, as developing WR’s goes.

    We need either Campbell or Grads (even Boller!?) to sieze a grip on the QB position, so we don’t have to spend too much, or risk too much, to bring in a franchise-carrying QB.

  • Just Fire Baby

    JFB, No luck finding a veggie seller in your new town?

    *********************************

    Been kind of hit or miss.

    I wasn’t looking for awhile, than went to AZ for the Raider game and burned, and know the urge is back.

    Do have an “entertainer” that hooks it up occasionally, but not the easiest thing meeting up with her.

  • YoungAmerican

    If the Raiders don’t find themselves a big, veteran WR (Roy Williams if he gets cut, maybe Vincent Jackson, who knows), I hope they find a big-bodied guy who can be a consistent red zone threat on the outside. Chaz Schilens is the only play who seems to fit that role on the team currently, and he can’t stay healthy. The Raiders need to find someone who can draw coverage away from Zach Miller, Murphy, and Bey.

  • Plunketthead

    It took me a long time to find one here in West Podunk.
    Fresher, more expensive vegs are harder to find and usually a rip but I get a full oz of icegerg lettuce for 90 bucks which is pretty good for dirt weed hell

  • Plunketthead

    I am watching Scam Newton acting like the egomaniac you mentioned earlier.

  • Plunketthead

    Speaking of big WR’s, Boldin is turning intpo a monster in bmore

  • HayesDaze37

    What’s starting to happen is all those receivers are being recognized as legitimate threats. Even DHB. Watch the attention Jacoby Ford starts getting now.

    At some point during games, each of those guys is doubled or bracketed. DMcFadden and MBush, and especially MReece, have benefited greatly from the coverage being pulled to one side or another.

    The guys you want, YA, are probably already on the team…and if we play well enough with them this year, adding other pieces that fit the team will be “easy.”

    But, yes…I’m all for adding a big and physical WR…just not an older one with a sketchy record. Plax Burress may be one exception, but only if he’s had on the cheap w/ little risk. I say stay away from all the big-name WR’s @ the end of their careers…this team’s doing fine without their baggage.

  • HayesDaze37

    Boldin’s been a monster since day-one. He’s who I think we should’ve traded for over two years, and Baltimore is loving him. Boldin is an awesome receiver, and is as tough as they come…he would’ve been a great Raider.

  • DaRayduh

    TJ and Post 61:

    You sound very ideal and accurate for the most part, but if I’m Pitts, my game plan revolves around Oaklands weak link, the QB position. You are right in your offensive planning, but can JC perform like that? He will be pressured, make no mistake about that. The Raiders last three wins were an entire, say it again, an entire team effort, and that is what it will take this time again. Tough for Pitt to have a sure fire game plan against our D, tho if Namndi isn’t healthy, I’m sure they will go there. I hope to no end we can move the chains, because if we can’t, our D will eventually tire and we are screwed. Not to start any petty squabling amongst out bretheren bloggers here, but Grads fits the role better because of his tempo and scrambling. Grads also will have a little more juice because he is in front of his home town. I wish JC did not stare down his recievers, but he does, and Tomlin knows this. Our sure fire would be to pound the ball with Bush and Reece, and dump or screen to McFadden for the yacs’. Throw a few deep, but pound it and dump it. If the Steelers can play off of Ford, we will be able to pick up 8-15 yards on the side.

    But we seem to be getting pretty good at pressuring qb’s, so intensify that Mr. Marshall, has worked the last three games and against rivers, and we’ll be fine there. Pitt will know this, but cook there asses a bit and keep ben and the offensive team off the field.

    It’s all coming together. I feel this game will be season defining, got a good feeling, and hope NE and Pittsburgh beat each other silly tomorrow, in 14.59 minutes of OT of course.

  • Plunketthead

    “he would’ve been a great Raider.”

    Thats the honest truth. Boldin is a punch you in the mouth player.

    Fear the pimp hand

  • hwnrdr

    A couple of years ago I would have said to go for Plax because he surely fits the Raider mode…but now it seems that Al is steering away from cancer as it has burned us in the past (see Randy Moss)…Roy Williams wold be ok, VJ would be great but we all know that SD is not gong to give us Jackson…

  • imaquaman

    # Born with a Patch Says:
    November 13th, 2010 at 6:44 am

    imaquaman, do you live in Denver?
    ………………………………………..
    no im in california,about 2 hrs north of los angelas.and im a raider fan win ,lose or tie until i die

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