By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 at 12:18 am in Oakland Raiders.
Stefen Wisniewski, anointed the Raiders center as fast as Hue Jackson could get the words out of his mouth, will be counted upon to anchor the Raiders’ point of attack for the next several years.
Wisniewski’s selection continues a trend in that the Raiders took a smart, studious player who appears to have a real appetite for the game to anchor what has occasionally been a soft middle.
The Raiders obviously differed with any opinions from draft analysts and the like that young Wiz was a smallish zone blocker ill-equipped to deal with the beastly nose tackles prevalent in so may 3-4 defensive schemes.
For what it’s worth, and it’s not worth much considering what really matters is the ability to control the line of scrimmage, Wisniewski was on of the better interviews at the NFL scouting combine. He welcomed any and all questions about comparisons to his uncle, which can be found here in a story I filed at the combine.
He was a far better interview than his uncle, who is an interesting guy in casual conversation but has in most cases kept it as bland as possible for public consumption, something he readily acknowledges. When I asked Stefen about Steve’s reputation for being a dirty player at the combine, he answered the question in good humor rather than recoiling in disgust.
Stefen instead seemed to revel in it, joking and rolling his eyes about how Steve told him the reputation was a “big misunderstanding,” while at the same time displaying the same sort of belief that picking off an unsuspecting defender at the whistle _ or a fraction of a second later _ was something to be saluted rather than scorned.
When asked to compare the selection of Wisniewski to that of Rolando McClain a year ago, this was Jackson’s response:
“I think you’ve got to be strong up the middle and I truly believe that playing football. I said that again the first time I met with you guys that we’re going to be very good on both sides of the ball and it starts with the line. It’s starts in the trenches. And those guys who are up front, the Richard Seymours, the Tommy Kellys, the Stefen Wisniewski’s, those guys got to make sure they’re dominant, dominant personalities and dominant, dominant football players. And they’ve also got to be smart and love to play the game. So we’re building that. I told you guys last night we’re becoming something and I’m very excited about where we’re headed.”
I’ll be back at it Saturday morning (oops, it already is Saturday morning), with no chat scheduled until Sunday . . .