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Measuring heart as well as speed, size

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 at 10:47 am in Oakland Raiders.

After letting the three-day draft marinate for several hours, here’s what I come up with concerning the Raiders’ Class of 2011:

The most important adjustment Al Davis has made the past two years is in heeding information about a player’s desire and level of commitment to go along with the physical attributes that will always be a big part of the way he selects players.

Davis still wants the Raiders to look good coming off the bus. It’s just that now he wants them to look good while carrying their playbooks.

The Raiders will still miss on occasion, something that happens to every team in the NFL. But at least they’ll miss on someone who appears to care. Say what you want about 2009 first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey and second-round selection Mike Mitchell, but any failure to become a frontline NFL player won’t be because they were lacking in desire.

It seemed to be a common theme among this year’s class, from center Stefen Wisniewski right on through receiver David Ausberry _ the talent to contribute and a willingness to work for it. Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, tackle Joe Barksdale and running back Taiwan Jones, as well as Wiz II, all had an appealing humbleness about them that indicated they were taking their team and their sport very seriously. The same goes for cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, available by conference call.

It was a trait that ran through last year’s celebrated draft class as well. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain could be a bit quirky, but there seemed to be no doubting his willingness to learn and grow in the mental part of the game. Lemarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, Jacoby Ford, Bruce Campbell, Walter McFadden, Travis Goethel, Jeremy Ware, Stevie Brown . . . all appeared to have a grasp on the challenge ahead as it pertained to work ethic and attitude.

That hasn’t always been the case. Maybe it was the legendary indifference of JaMarcus Russell that caused this shift in philosophy, but there were plenty of examples preceding Russell.

Fabian Washington, the first-round pick in 2005, admitted after being traded to Baltimore he was immature and didn’t grasp the concept of being a professional in Oakland.

Going back to 2002 and 2003, I can think of three players who weren’t bad guys but came to the Raiders and conducted themselves as if they had everything figured out _ tight end Teyo Johnson (2003), cornerback Phillip Buchanon (2002) and linebacker Napoleon Harris (2002), the latter two first-round draft picks.

Second-overall pick Darrell Russell arrived in 1997 with a reputation of taking plays off and not being entirely serious about his profession. They got a couple of Pro Bowl years out of Russell, but if a Russell-like player came out now, you wonder if the Raiders would take a pass.

The Raiders traded up twice in 1996 to take tight end Rickey Dudley, who caught 29 touchdown passes in five seasons but never achieved the stardom his skill set seemed to warrant. Dudley wasn’t a head case or a slacker. But after doing a profile on him dating back to his days in high school, it was clear Dudley’s first love was basketball and he admitted as much.

Dudley liked football and appreciated the opportunity, but he loved basketball. It was his passion.

I asked Hue Jackson if there were players taken off the board regardless of their skill set based on red flags gathered through an interview or research.

“There’s no question,” Jackson said. “Obviously the measureables are important. We want the guy to be as big as he can be, as agile as he can be, as fast as he can be. But at the end of the day, he’s got to want to play football. And that’s what it comes down to.

“You’ve got to like the toughness, the physical nature of this sport, and if you don’t do that, you can’t be successful in this league.”

Is combine flash Van Dyke a reach in the third round? Perhaps. He’s alarmingly thin as well, with legs that look like pencils. Rod Woodson signed off on him, however, and that should count for something.

Taiwan Jones, the fourth-round pick, also comes off as earnest and sincere. He’ll be fine about his role and isn’t going to be demanding the ball any time soon. Considering Darren McFadden’s injury history and Jackson’s love for running the ball, Jones could come along sooner than expected.

As for physical “freaks” such as tight end Richard Gordon and Ausberry, taking a calculated risk on a superior athlete is simply the Raider way. The difference is now they’re taking a closer look at the heart to go along with the body.

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  • priesttj

    Armond we needed those corners and that does mean we couldn’t use Ellis because I’m a huge fan butr the DB’s and the lineman we needed. Trust me we’re not done so don’t think addditional dlineman aren’t coming it’s just a matter of #’s is all.

    There are several undfa’s to be had we’re a long way from DONE!!!

  • J Hill

    Again,

    Reece is asked to block 90% of the time he is on the field. I don’t see why that 10% of the time he gets his # called in the passing game (what, once or twice a week?) is so important.

    What about the 90% he sucks at?

  • priesttj

    Jhill we get it but we are ranked pretty high still so it aint that b ad…..

  • aig-raiders

    Wow so proud of our country today. O just delivered the ultimate beat down speech. Congrats to everyone in our govt today and the black op community.

  • priesttj

    Our Rb’s were breaking off some huge runs so someone was blocking somebody, I think we are way over stating this thing. You don’t run as well as we did and suck, that doesn’t make sense.

  • J Hill

    Hendu,

    Started really watching in the 80s and becoming serious about it. Probably had to do with them being on TV more with Cable and all.

    Went to several games in LA at the Coliseum in my late teens early 20s.

  • priesttj

    I fyou really watch Reece and correctly critigue him, it’s his pass blocking that really needs work. And you’ll that is the case with most first year starters he just sucks at blitz pickup. But look how long it took DMC and Bush to learn the same thing. A couple of years.

  • Demon Raider

    I heard that Oakland will try and get DHB to renegotiate his contract or they could release him to get the space to re-sign Nnamdi…..

  • J Hill

    We have a STUD RB who can break a couple nice runs per game. That makes our running stats look real good TJ. But when we simply need 2 yds with the FB leading the way, Reece will lose that battle 8 outta 10 times.

    You’ve already said the kid can’t block, and we all know that is the main responsibilty of the FB. If you are telling me that he is really not in there to play the role of the FB them I say Mike Bush should be on the field in that role instead of Reece.

  • BloodRaider

    Way to go US Military!!!

  • J Hill

    Priest,

    I have my own versions of “film study”, and mostly everything I see shows me he’s terrible as a lead blocker. Still have several games on the DVR from last season that I watch and just smh at his play.

  • PurpleDrank81

    Denarius Moore will a beast PRINT THAT…He had 6 receptions 228 yards and 1 TD going 1on1 with Chris Culliver the Whiners 3rd round pick… He outclassed him the whole game. He will have more receptions then DHB did in 2 years

  • http://Www.bullycains.com r8dercain

    ###################################################
    Yep.

    aig-raiders Says:
    May 1st, 2011 at 8:06 pm
    Watching the tapes of Taiwan Jones and you see him break a lot of tackle for his size, granted his level of competition is not high. I have a hunch he is the Nap Kaufman replacement Al has been looking for
    ———–
    no DMAC has that title

  • Demon Raider
  • Demon Raider

    I hope Denarius Moore becomes a stud. Still don’t think we needed to draft a WR…………..

    Dammit, I want free agency to start already…..

  • RaiderRetribution

    Amen Blood Raider;

    to all the men & women of the Armed Forces of the U.S.A. thank you!

    Mr. President you kept your word, thank you and you are correct, “The United States of America is one Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”.

  • armond

    jhill we see the same thing about reece. im not saying i want him at te, just seeing another fb to help out on occasion. no way do i want to limit his role outside some situations. thats why i hope tonga who is versatile can step up.

  • armond

    moore can ball.we did a good job drafting him. dude just makes plays and i really want to see what gordon can do. he is suppose to be an excellent athlete who can block. we need another te to step up behind miller. our running is going to be better than kc’s this year.

  • 504 Raider

    200.Guy Says:
    May 1st, 2011 at 8:45 pm
    Hey 504 what do you think of LSU’s Terrance Toliver?

    ——————————————————-
    ——————————————————-

    TT was inconsistent in his four years there. He has the measurables you want in Raiders WRs but just inconsistent as far as having a good game then disappearing for stretches. I was shocked he wasn’t drafted. Is capable of big games. His 2010 season sums it up best. He caught more TDs in the Cotton Bowl (3) than he did all season (2). In his defense I will say that LSU is stocked at WR with blue chippers and he wasn’t a Blue Chip but he earned playing time. He’s like 6’4” and 190-200. 4.5 forty. If he gets real serious he’s gonna make someones roster. As is he’ll make a roster because of his size and playing SEC ball. If you looked at the Cotton Bowl you couldn’t see the difference between him and A.J. Green.

  • 504 Raider

    200.Guy Says:
    May 1st, 2011 at 8:45 pm
    Hey 504 what do you think of LSU’s Terrance Toliver?

    ——————————————————-
    ——————————————————-

    TT was inconsistent in his four years there. He has the measurables you want in Raiders WRs but just inconsistent as far as having a good game then disappearing for stretches. I was shocked he wasn’t drafted. Is capable of big games. His 2010 season sums it up best. He caught more TDs in the Cotton Bowl (3) than he did all season (2). In his defense I will say that LSU is stocked at WR with blue chippers and he wasn’t a Blue Chip but he earned playing time. He’s like 6’4” and 190-200. 4.5 forty. If he gets real serious he’s gonna make someones roster. As is he’ll make a roster because of his size and playing SEC ball. If you looked at the Cotton Bowl you couldn’t see the difference between him and A.J. Green.

  • Gust372

    Oh bah mah!!!

    Oh bah mah!!!

  • Gust372

    Obbamma admin. = Bush admin..with results.

  • Gust372

    BloodRaider Says:
    May 1st, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Way to go US Military!!!

    …………

    HERE, HERE!!! Right up to the commander in chief!

  • http://www.raiders.com/ r8eray

    I’m PROUD to be an AMERICAN!!!

    GOD BLESS THE US OF A!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mC1NhB0IO0&feature=related

  • aig-raiders

    Joke of the nite on the web…it was Bin Laden’s iphone that gave his location away.

  • http://www.psalm23sportswear.com omniscience

    I think the lockout helps the raiders before the lockout we where the only team to lockup some of our guys AL on it again. If lock out goes on say ends right before trainning camp most teams will be trying to lock up there own players that gives us first crack at our own Bush,Miller,ASO if loose Bush or Miller 1st & 3rd round draft picks Al will sign them. Trainning camp let WR fight it out if Chaz stays healty threw camp and starts season that would be big.

  • Violent Hands

    TOP UNDRAFTED PLAYERS BY POSITION

    Quarterbacks

    Adam Froman (Louisville)
    Taylor Potts (Texas Tech)
    Adam Weber (Minnesota)
    Josh Portis (California, Pa.)
    Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin)
    Running Backs

    Derrick Locke (Kentucky)
    Noel Devine (West Virginia)
    Mario Fannin (Auburn)
    Damien Berry (Miami)
    Brandon Saine (Ohio State)
    Wide Receivers

    1. Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)

    2. *Darvin Adams (Auburn)

    3. Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State)

    4. Jeff Maehl (Oregon)

    5. Armon Binns (Cincinnati)

    Tight Ends

    1. Andre Smith (Virginia Tech)

    2. Schuylar Oordt (Northern Iowa)

    3. Collin Franklin (Iowa State)

    4. Weslye Saunders (South Carolina)

    5. Zach Pianalto (North Carolina)

    Offensive Tackles

    1. Derek Hall (Stanford)

    2. Willie Smith (East Carolina)

    3. David Mims (Virginia Union)

    4. D.J. Young (Michigan State)

    5. Trevis Turner (Abilene Christian)

    Offensive Guards

    1. Zach Hurd (Connecticut)

    2. Ray Dominguez (Arkansas)

    3. Carl Johnson (Florida)

    4. Justin Boren (Ohio State)

    5. Andrew Phillips (Stanford)

    Centers

    1. Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal)

    2. Zane Taylor (Utah)

    3. Tim Barnes (Missouri)

    4. Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU)

    5. Alex Linnenkohl (Oregon State)

    Defensive Ends

    1. Ugo Chinasa (Oklahoma State)

    2. Brandon Bair (Oregon)

    3. Pierre Allen (Nebraska)

    4. Eddie Jones (Texas)

    5. Marc Schiechl (Colorado School of Mines)

    Defensive Tackles

    1. Cedric Thornton (Southern Arkansas)

    2. Ollie Ogbu (Penn State)

    3. *Sealver Siliga (Utah)

    4. Anthony Gray (Southern Miss)

    5. Corbin Bryant (Northwestern)

    Inside Linebackers

    1. Jeff Tarpinian (Iowa)

    2. Mario Harvey (Marshall)

    3. Josh Bynes (Auburn)

    4. Nick Bellore (Central Michigan)

    5. Orie Lemon (Oklahoma State)

    Outside Linebackers

    1. Adrian Moten (Maryland)

    2. Mark Herzlich (Boston College)

    3. Jeremiha Hunter (Iowa)

    4. Scott Lutrus (Connecticut)

    5. *Thomas Keiser (Stanford)

    Cornerbacks

    1. Kendric Burney (North Carolina)

    2. Loyce Means (Houston)

    3. Talmadge Jackson III (Oregon)

    4. Kevin Rutland (Missouri)

    5. Darrin Walls (Notre Dame)

    Free Safeties

    1. Deunta Williams (North Carolina)

    2. *Jerrard Tarrant (Georgia Tech)

    3. Anthony Walters (Delaware)

    4. *Will Hill (Florida)

    5. Brian Lainhart (Kent State)

    Strong Safeties

    1. DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson)

    2. Joe Lefeged (Rutgers)

    3. Jeron Johnson (Boise State)

    4. Mana Silva (Hawaii)

    5. David Sims (Iowa State)

    Specialists

    1. Kai Forbath (UCLA)

    2. Josh Jasper (LSU)

    3. Dan Bailey (Oklahoma State)

    4. Chas Henry (Florida)

    5. Ryan Donahue (Iowa)

  • irjonny

    Idiots. Reece blocked for 1200 yds for dmac. 90% of the time

  • irjonny

    sheep. osama bin laden died a long time ago. weird how it’s election time eh?

  • Gust372

    Got that tin foil hat strapped on tight, don’t you, jonny?

  • Gust372

    jonny’s not happy about yesterday’s news. Anyone else disappointed that Bin Ladin happened to get killed when Obbamma was president?

  • Gust372
  • Gust372

    jonny election is next year, you dumb asss.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Davis The Realist Dirty Raccoon

    Violent Hands, Odowd or Kirkpatrick might be worth a closer look. They seemed to be draftable players, and better than Chris Morris at the same point. We will still need a backup center after we trade SS. I don’t think we want to see JV back there.

    Howdy Nation.

    USA USA USA

  • RaiderKen

    All politics aside it doesn’t matter what President is in office. The powers to be control all and bottom line Bin Laden is dead and it wasn’t years ago it was maybe a week or two.

  • RaiderKen

    The draft was as I expected Wiz at the top the rest what do you expect. My draft mind is not going into rounds three or beyond with the RAIDERS.

  • raidertalk

    I agree with the sentiment here about the run-D. When we had Adams and Parella up front we where better in that area.

    On the other hand tho, our offense was a different animal; short passes and control of the clock, down and distance.

    Our D just needed to bend not break during the Gannon years. Hopefully the new talent on the O-line will allow us to control the game, improving our run D too.

    But lets face it, if we go for the home-run too much, and don’t run any clock control, our D will get worn by a steady barrage, no matter how good we are talent-wise.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    All it took was a new president… Congrats guys, may this heal your wounds…

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    A curse from my ancestors,”may his shadow walk on the dark side of hell tonight”.

  • hwnrdr

    Good Morning Nation!!! Osama confirmed dead…not sure if it will heal all wounds but it has put to rest many of the innocent lives taken on that September day in NY!
    Other than possibly the biggest news in the WORLD! How do you all like our draft picks?

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    GOOD MORNING SPORT’S FAN’S.DOES THAT MEAN THE TROOPS CAN COME HOME NOW ?ABOVE AVERAGE DRAFT IMO HWNRDR.DEFINITLY NEEDED O-LINE AND SECONDARY HELP..

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    Morning Hwnrdr,Happy May Day!

    Not sure why we drafted a RB,would have looked a more depth on the lines myself,other than that – I’d say we did okay.

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    make that “looked AT more”.

    Morning Dirt-lot,and a happy May Day to you too!

  • http://0 Bob Marley

    Here’s a look at our most controversial draft pick taken from a couple of sites.

    The Senior Bowl analysis gives us more than the traditional “fast, thin, backup,late round pick” some sites claim as a scouting profile.

    “Demarcus Van Dyke:

    Sam Shields came out of nowhere to help the Packers reach the Super Bowl this year.

    Can DeMarcus Van Dyke do the same thing as the next corner out of Miami?.

    From the Senior Bowl:

    I thought Van Dyke looked really fluid in coverage during the one-on-one matchups. He’s only 168 pounds, but there’s definitely room for growth on his 6-1 frame.

    Monday Practice Notes: The strongest performance from a defensive back from the South was contributed by Van Dykel. He was better than expected as he stuck to his receivers, particularly on deep routes.

    Tuesday Practice Notes: Fundamentally Van Dyke is terrific as he offers good fundamentals and quickness. Some feel he gets a little high in his pedal. Problem his he’s very slow to react and really shows no instincts.

    Wednesday Practice Notes: It was a matter of inches and Van Dyke fell short. Again, technically he’s very good and displays the ability to stay on the receivers hip out of breaks but he’s always literally a quarter step away from making the play.

    - Analysis: Van Dyke showed enough to get consideration in the middle rounds, maybe even the late part of the third frame. Has skills but just needs to put it all together.

    Positive: Physically gifted cornerback who never pulled together a complete game on the college level. Quick-footed in reverse, can flip his hips in transition, and shows a burst of speed.

    Physical, will mix it up with receivers throughout the route, and aggressively defends the run. Takes on bigger opponents. Gives effort on special teams, specifically on coverage units.

    Negative: Struggles making plays with his back to the ball and slow getting his head around to locate the pass in the air. Possesses a thin build. Adequate burst out of his plant.

    - Analysis: Van Dyke displayed a variety of NFL type skills throughout his college career and performed well for scouts in the postseason. He has the fundamentals to play for a team at the next level.

    - Prior to the East-West Shrine Game, Demarcus Van Dyke’s chances of being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft were slim to none.

    However, Van Dyke had a very impressive week in Orlando at the Shrine Game, and that performance was impressive enough for Van Dyke to earn a late addition onto the Senior Bowl when Curtis Marsh had to pull out with an injury.

    Van Dyke was impressive yet again in Mobile, as he really showed his ability to cover opposing receivers both inpractices and in the game.

    - Van Dyke finished up a phenomenal two months with a terrific workout. After a terrific performance at the Shrine Game in January, then a solid showing two weeks later in the Senior Bowl, he gave scouts more to think about with his combine effort.

    Van Dyke never ran slower than 4.30 seconds in the 40 then displayed quickness, explosion and balance in the position drills. He’s gone from backup with the Hurricanes last season to potential top-100 pick in the draft.”

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    GOOD DAY 2 U FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET NEILB..

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    Bob…

    I can’t help but think that the influence of Rod Woodson is going to make every rating before the draft irrelevant.

  • hwnrdr

    Interesting notes about Van Dyke. Hopefully, IF we lose Nnamdi that Van Dyke and Chekwa fill in the void…

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    “Other side of the planet” that’s ’bout right isn’t it?!!

  • http://0 Bob Marley

    As far as where he was picked…

    Keep in mind that Mayock said the top rated CB’s ended with Brandon Harris, so the rest of the class was hard to predict, so a guy like DVD who is raw but has great, if unrefined, skills was bound to be picked soon afterwards.

    He conducted workouts for Philly, Baltimore, Atl, Miami, Cleveland and Denver, that’s too many teams for a guy projected as a late round-undrafted free agent, I don’t think he was going to last much longer since he was probably the most talented CB remaining on board.

    In fact, by early april Mel Kiper had Seattle taking DVD with their 2nd round pick.

  • http://www.safc.com/page/StadiumofLightDetail/0,,10281~1706060,00.html neilb

    Let’s come back in five years and see who was right.