The Raiders have fired longtime scout Jon Kingdon, according to the NFL Network.
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Archive for April, 2012
The Raiders have fired longtime scout Jon Kingdon, according to the NFL Network.
The Raiders confirmed that they intend to take a look at veteran quarterback Matt Leinart at some point this week. On Monday, the agent for career backup quarterback Jim Sorgi said his client is auditioning for the Raiders on Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »
Here is the transcript from the post-draft news conference with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen:
McKenzie: “The day is over. Ah, shoot. Let’s open it up, guys. Questions?”
Question: Just an overview of how you think the day went?
McKenzie: Well, it went better. We had more picks today. We set out to try to upgrade the team and by the end of the day we felt like we did that. Remains to be seen just how good they will be, but we anxiously will await their presence here in Oakland and also into camp. So, we’re excited. It was a good weekend. We feel good about where we’ve come so far.
Q: Are the D-lineman you drafted projects you can be patient with and bring along slowly?
McKenzie: Yeah, with all these guys, to a certain degree, they’re going to have to be brought along. But yes, the D-linemen, they did get into football late. But they are very good prospects so even though they’re a little raw, we feel like we can coach those guys up and they will eventually be pretty good players.
Q: There’s a report you could sign Matt Leinart, what could he bring to what you’re doing here?
McKenzie: What we’re doing, we’re bringing in Matt Leinart for a tryout. Signing and all of that, that’s secondary. But we’re bringing him in for a tryout.
Q: What do you like about him?
McKenzie: The fact is he’s an experienced quarterback and we just want to take a closer look at him, watch him throw the ball and see how his injury has come around.
Q: How do you evaluate a guy like Bilukidi who was at Georgia State?
McKenzie: Well, for one, it’s not his fault who he plays against. But with that being said, he’s a big man with a great deal of athleticism and he hustles to the ball. You can see that type stuff in watching him play. You can see his ability to move laterally, see his ability to play hard. But yes, playing against some SEC, Pac-12-type players, he did not have that chance to do that. But what you look for, did he dominate at his level? And that he did. Bottom line, he’s a big man with really good athleticism and he plays like he loves to play the game. So, we were down there in the draft and felt like we needed to take a look at him. You know, we had brought him in for a visit and interviewed him, spent a lot of time with him and we felt like we needed to take a further look and get this guy in.
Q: What did you like about Burris and is he the one guy today who has the most chance of making an impact this season?
Allen: I don’t know if he’s the one guy that has the most significant chance of having an impact. But he is one of those guys that we feel like… and Reggie said this from the very beginning, guys. What we wanted to do is we wanted to go out and get quality football players. And that’s what we feel like we got in Burris. I think he’s a tough physical player that’s got good athletic skill, has instincts for the game, plays the game the right way. And that’s really at the end of the day when we looked at it, we said hey, we’ve got a quality football player that’s got a chance to come in and compete for a position on this team and we wanted to try to bring him in here.
Q: How involved were you, Dennis, in the pick-by-pick and what were you emphasizing–let’s get the toughest guy? Something like that?
Allen: First of all, I think Reggie and I, when it got time or it got close to the pick, he and I were in constant communication on where we thought we ought to go with the pick and who was the best player available. And at the end of the day, really, what we went off of was, when we looked at the tape, what players jumped out at us, that were productive, quality football players? And I think everyone of the guys that we were able to pick understood how to play the game, they were tough, they were smart, they were disciplined, they played the game with instincts. Those were the qualities we looked for in a football player. And then they’ve got to be above a certain line athletically, and all these guys were.
Why all the basketball players, Reggie?
McKenzie: “You know, even when college scouts go in and do their research, you see this guy played baseball, this guy played three years of high school basketball. Yes, it helps when you talk about how athletic especially big men are. Do we go in and look for guys who played basketball? No. No. But when we research and get down into the scouting part of it, yes. That’s part of the process. It’s just like when we look at defensive backs – if they play center field and outfield, learning how to track balls, that’s part of scouting. But for a specific sport? We don’t go out looking for basketball players, defensive linemen who can play basketball. That doesn’t give them a boost up in a round, no.”
Allen: “We’re close to having a starting five, though.”
And how about all the players with such strong faith?
McKenzie: “You know what? I think when you talk about high-character guys, how they were brought up, work ethic, I think part of that is kind of reflective on your faith. At least I know it was with me. But did we go out and say we’re going to get faith-based players specifically? No. No. That’s not our intent. But I think just by nature good quality players have a strong foundation in their faith.”
Surprised Criner was still there, and was his speed a red flag?
McKenzie: “Yes, we were surprised that he was still there, but excited that he was. And the speed, it was a factor but it was not a red flag. Because if it was a red flag we probably wouldn’t have taken him. But the guy, for a big guy, he’s quick. So if he was a slow guy with no quickness, it would have been a struggle to get him there.”
How did the trade come about?
McKenzie: “After looking at the board, we felt we could have an opportunity to move down, and pick up, we had quite a few players around that level, so we felt like we could get one of ‘em. And also by picking up another pick, that was just gravy. So if we got a team to do it, we would’ve jumped on it. And we did. So that’s how it went down.”
So you approached them?
Q: Why didn’t you draft any defensive backs?
Allen: “Well, first of all, I appreciate the guru comment. I don’t know if I classify it as a guru. But, really, at the end of the day, we set out on this process and our goal was to get the best football players we could for this team. If there was a defensive back that was available at the value that we were looking for at that time, then that’s a decision that we would have made. But, really, at the end of the day, we played the board out exactly how we went through the process. That’s a credit to Reggie and the scouting department on how we set the board. And we didn’t panic. We just went right off the board and the best player available was the direction that we went. We feel good about the guys that we picked.”
Q: What are the rules for contact with the rookies between now and the mini camp in two weeks?
McKenzie: “Well, there’s a lot of rules. For fear of not abiding by the rules, I’m going to just leave that alone. Yes, our hands are tied. Now, we’ll get them in in a couple of weeks, as far as the rookie mini camp goes, but it’s hands off. It’s an off-limits-type of thing. Those guys have to be back into their college towns no later than tomorrow night if we would have brought them in today. So, it has to be a short turnaround. Just come in, meet you guys, and they’re pretty much out. That’s the way the league, along with the NCAA, has it. So, it’s for fear of taking these guys out from school. That’s the main purpose. Yeah, we wish we could get them in and do a whole playbook sessions, but we can’t do that.”
Q: What did you learn about Reggie during the draft process, coach?
Allen: “I said it before, and I’m not going to restate it again, other than, I’m just going to say, listen, you get the same guy, no matter what. He’s not going to fold under the pressure, the stress is not going to get to him, he’s got a plan, he’s going to work that plan and, at the end of the day, those are the guys that make the best decisions. The ones that don’t get emotional about making a decision, they have a plan attack, they have a thought process about the way that they’re going to operate and, at the end of the day, they work that plan. And that’s what he did during this draft, and that’s what he’s done with everything since he’s been here.”
Q: What is the latest on Tyvon Branch and Marcel Reece and their tenders?
McKenzie: I haven’t, our contract negotiators have been in contact with them specifically, but communication’s been well. With either of those guys it’s not been an ugly situation. They know we love ‘em and we feel good about our chances of getting them back, hopefully sooner than later. But the communication has really been pretty good.
Q: Neither has been signed?
McKenzie: No, not yet.
Q: Relief that it’s over, knowing you came into this without a lot of picks?
McKenzie: Coming into this thing, knowing that I had two picks, thinking about it was a struggle, because I didn’t want to think about that. But the hope of the possibility of getting compensatory picks, that gave you a brighter outlook, and when we got ‘em, needless to say we were excited. But to come away with six draft picks on the day, we feel great about. Where they came, really doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that we have some draft picks, and, but the anticipation of it, didn’t matter what round, it was exciting. We’re getting ready to pick our guy, and it was constant communication. It was a good process. It was good for me. This was a good weekend.
Q: What caught your eye about Hardy, no football experience at all?
McKenzie: In high school, he played. He was a basketball player in college. For one, the video tape, watching him, in the tryout showed his athleticism, ability to catch the ball, adjust and all that. You can tell his hands are not going to be a problem. And he ran pretty well, the frame, his physical frame, he looks the part. It was one of those deals, let’s see him try out in person. And I sent the scout down and everything was positive, so we brought him up. He’s had a little injury since he’s been up here, and that’s kind of slowed down his progress which he needs a lot of progress, but it’s one of those, `let’s take a look and see’ we know it’s going to be a project, but we’ll try to figure out if it’s going to be a good one or not.
Q: Injury is a minor injury?
McKenzie: Yeah, it’s minor. It’s minor.
Q: Now you have four tight ends. Are you comfortable with four or looking to add one more?
McKenzie: It depends on if something comes available. I’m just not going to let a player that we like that comes on a waiver wire or whatever through a tryout. If it’s a guy we think we can add and upgrade the competition, we’ll add him.
Q: More incentive today to address the defensive side?
McKenzie: I think we went into the draft from day one to address the defense. You got to understand we have a defensive head coach and a defensive-minded general manager, so let’s win on defense. But as the day went, the defensive players were the players that were on the board. So we didn’t intentionally just go defense, defense.
Q: With the two defensive linemen, Christo and Crawford, do you have positions you think they’re going to be at?
Allen: Yeah, right now we’re looking at Christo going inside and playing inside and we’re looking at Crawford as a defensive end.
Q: In terms of Crawford’s leaping ability, he’s batted down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage, maybe could be used for blocking kicks, is that the kind of thing you look at for something he could be used for?
Allen: Yeah, he’s big, athletic, runs really well. And he’s had some production, and so again we look for versatility in guys and we try to find roles for specific guys and I think as you look at him as we get a chance to work with him, I think we’re going to be able to define a pretty good role for him.
Q: Undrafted free agents?
McKenzie: That will be an on-going process. It’s going as we speak. We’ll wrap this up pretty soon. That process has started prior to us coming down. That thing goes for a while. We are hopeful that we get some good players that way too.
Q: Will this be an all-nighter?
McKenzie: Yes, absolutely.
Allen: Every night is an all-night thing.
Q: What’s the back and forth like with those UDFAs?
McKenzie: Let me tell you something. I’ve been at this for all these years. It’s ongoing until we have the signed document. It is a constant struggle because you have the recruiting part of it. It gets competitive, especially when you’re dealing with contracts, money, opportunity of course. Everybody gets into the recruiting aspect but we have the closer here next to me so we should be fine.
Q: How were you able to sign Hardy before draft?
McKenzie: Technically his draft year was in ’11, 2011. He was technically a street free agent at this point.
Since we last spoke, the Raiders have added six more undrafted free agents. They are: Read the rest of this entry »
Once the seven-round NFL draft ends, teams kick into overdrive in an attempt to sign undrafted players. The Raiders apparently hit the ground running. Read the rest of this entry »
Here is the entire transcript from a conference call with Penn State linebacker Nate Stupar, who was selected at No. 230, in the seventh round, by the Raiders on Saturday:
Your uncle is Jeff Hostetler. Is that right?
What has he told you about the Raiders?
“I just saw him play and stuff growing up. He really hasn’t told me anything. I had no idea that the Raiders were even interested, and all of a sudden I get a call from Oakland, Calif. I go, ‘What do these guys want?’ We talked to the coaches. So it was just an exciting time. Can’t wait.”
What do the Raiders want? Did they let you know what they have planned for you?
“Yeah, they were straight to the point. They were like, ‘We see you playing middle, doing some middle, getting right in there and getting some action at the middle. They know I can play some special teams as well and use my skills on special teams.”
You have pretty substantial experience on special teams?
Every unit pretty much?
“Mostly every one. I’m really good at punt return, I can do punt, I’m really good at kickoffs, just missing guys trying to block me running down, making open field tackles. You name it. If you want me to do it, I’ll do it.”
What are the things you think you have to work on at the NFL level?
“Just I guess the transition to middle linebacker. I’ve been playing outside the whole college career. I played some middle in some nickel packages. I’m sure I’ll get used to it really fast. I’m a quick learner, and just being able to use my hands in tight and defeating blocks more easily.”
Had other teams talked to you about moving to the middle?
“A lot of different teams, teams with 3-4s saw me as a middle linebacker, then teams with a 4-3 saw me as outside. So I got a lot of diversity with teams wanting me inside and outside.”
Excited to be with a former teammate out here, Jack Crawford?
“Yeah, Jack, Stefen Wisniewski. Stefen’s a really good friend of mine, so it’s going to be awesome to be out there with him.”
Who scouted you from the Raiders?
“To be honest, I don’t even know, because it was the first call that I’ve gotten since I talked to them at the combine. It was out of the blue. I talked with coach Allen on the phone and had some good news, talked to the GM. He asked me to be a Raider and I was ecstatic.”
Did you have expectations of being drafted today?
“Yeah, definitely. Miami said they were going to maybe take me in the last two 7 picks in the seventh round. They didn’t take with me that seventh pick. I was in the car with my parents and fiancé driving back from ….. my brother’s spring game, and after following on the little NFL app that Miami took a wide receiver instead of me, I was kind of down. Then all of a sudden California calls. My mom was looking at her phone, and she goes, ‘What!’ The next pick was the Oakland Raiders. We just couldn’t believe it. We were ecstastic. Still surreal to me.”
In meetings with the Raiders were they explicit at all on whether they’re going 4-3 or 3-4 or a combination of the two?
“They didn’t decide or tell me anything about the specific defense, but they told me that they wanted me as an inside linebacker.”
The Raiders tabbed a Penn State player in the 2012 NFL draft for the second time. This time, it’s linebacker Nathan Stupar, a 6-feet-2, 240-pounder.
Stupar wasn’t a full-time starter at Penn State. He is the kind of player who gets by more on his smarts and determination than he does with his ability, which still is somewhat impressive.
He is projected to be a dependable special teams player and solid backup, with an outside shot at developing into a starting-caliber player.
That’s fine with the Raiders. They have a need for an infusion of youth and smarts on their special teams and an opening for a backup linebacker.
Stupar played outside linebacker in college. However, he said the Raiders informed him that he will be moved inside, which means he will back up projected starter Rolando McClain from the outset.
Here is what defensive end Christo Bilukidi had to say about being selected by the Raiders at No. 189 in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday:
Q: Pick surprised so-called draft experts did it surprise you?
A: Kind of … It really didn’t because up from the All-Star game I really did what I needed to do to show a lot of these scouts that I can play at a higher level. From my pro day, all my measurables that I tested were really good. All these teams already were calling me and I had a really good feeling about it. It wasn’t a big surprise to me.
Q: Lots of contact from Raiders?
A: I went on a visit, they brought me on a visit. They were calling me, D-line coach was talking to me. I had a lot of contacts with them.
Q: Any idea whether they plan to keep you inside or more you outside?
A: I’ll play anywhere. They haven’t really specified where I would be playing as a tackle or end. I told them, like in college I’ve been playing everywhere from zero technique all the way wide nine technique. I’ll play anywhere.
Q: What got you started playing football?
A: It was actually one of my best friends back here in Ottawa. He played actually in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts. I was always a basketball player and he asked me if I wanted to play football my senior year in high school. I started playing and started liking it.
Q: What do you like about it?
A: Contact. It’s not like basketball. Basketball is physical but football is just another game and it’s more physical. The whole contact about it, just hitting people, that’s what I like to do.
Q: Who is your friend?
A: Djems Kouame.
Which parts of your game do you need to work on right now?
“Staying low. Obviously, a tall guy like me, about 6-4½, playing on the D-line, just being as low as I can, because it’s always like every coach says, ‘lowest man wins.’ So that’s really the only aspect I think I need to work on, and obviously with coaches like on the Raiders, with so much experience, they’ll teach me how to play low and get leverage on people and just dominate.”
Is your father still a diplomat for Angola?
“I don’t have contact with him, so I can’t even tell you.”
How did living in so many foreign countries benefit you?
“It made me cultured because I lived in so many different cities and countries and stuff. So definitely just opens my mind more, because I learn more about different people, and just makes me more humble, and makes me appreciate people far more than if someone just lived in like a little small city and didn’t know what was going on around the world, so yeah.”
What’s the challenge going to be like playing in the NFL?
“It’s gonna be a challenge just like for everybody else that’s come into the NFL. It’s not college, and it’s not high school anymore. Like one coach told me, you’ve got to throw away everything you learned in college and then come and grasp everything you learn in the NFL. So it’s gonna be difficult these couple, few weeks, because I’ve just got to adjust to it. But after that, I’m a smart person, I’m very bright, I learn very fast, so I’m not too worried about the whole transition to the NFL.”
Do you feel as if you are starting from behind, given you are from a smaller college?
“See, I would say that would be the case, because I went to a small school, Georgia State, and it’s a brand-new program. So our coaching staff was very young, as compared with an SEC program where they have coaches that have long experience. But to me, because of my athleticism and my height and my size, I’ll be able to do whatever anybody else on the D-line is doing, because like I said, I’m a fast learner and I’m athletic at the same time.”
Are you the first player from Georgia State ever drafted into the NFL?
“First Georgia State ever to be drafted, yessir.”
What has the reaction been like since you were selected?
“Feels great. Like I’ve been on-line with you guys, my coach has been calling me. Waiting for an answer, but I bet they’re real proud of me. Definitely feels really good.”
Here is the entire transcript from a conference call with fifth-round draft pick defensive end Jack Crawford:
Q: Did you know Raiders were interested in you?
A: Yeah, the Raiders were one of the teams I was close to from the beginning, since the Combine. It was good to seem them come through and give me an opportunity like this.
Q: Did they have you out here for a visit?
Q: Have you taken a moment to reflect how unlikely this is, given how long and how far you’ve come?
A: It’s crazy. It’s a little emotional right now, everybody is crying. It’s so unlikely. I told myself coming into this situation that I wasn’t going to get upset if I didn’t get drafted. I have come so far already. I am just so happy. This is one of the best days of my life.
Q: Saw you worked out with Tre Thomas. How much did that help you?
A: Yeah. He is just so insightful and he has so much experience. It was good to see things from an offensive tackle’s perspective. It helped me out so much. He told me things that I didn’t know. The small things that you don’t recognize in a game. Helped me mentally a lot.
Q: How soon before you reach out to Stefen Wisniewski and ask about the Raiders?
A: I was just living with Stef Wisniewski at the offseason training up at Penn State. I stayed with him, and I was asking him about the Raiders. He had nothing but good things to say, and now I can be his teammate again. It’s a good feeling.
Q: You had a dip in production your junior year. What happened there?
A: I got hurt. I sprained a ligament in my right foot and it was just hard, because instead of having the surgery, I decided to let it heal a little bit and try and come back. I didn’t give myself enough time to heal up and I could never play up to my full potential.
Q: When did you make the transition in your mind from basketball player to football player?
A: It was the first year I played. Stepping on that football field for the first time, it was a feeling I never had before. I like how it was physical game. I grew up playing rugby and stepping on the football field, there was just a lot more excitement. When I started to get more of a feel for the game, I became more and more intrigued by it.
Q: Did you watch football growing up?
A: A little bit. Not so much. I couldn’t really follow it like you can in America.
Q: Because you haven’t played a lot, do you feel like you have a lot of room to grow?
A: That’s the one thing about me, I always feel like I have room to improve. That’s my mindset. And that’s what’s gotten me to where I am now.
Q: How did you discover football? What was the reason you played for the first time?
A: Just watching a game in high school, it looked fun. I liked the contact, the physical part of it, that’s what brought me over to the sport.
Q: How does a guy go from not playing football to being recruited by Penn State in two years?
A: (Laughs) That’s crazy, man. My high school coach told me, when I stepped on the field, just told me a little bit about the positions I’d be playing, defensive end and wide receiver and then he just told me, on defense, just go get the ball. And that’s what I did for him. Every play I lined up, I took off and try to get back to the running back as much as possible. And one thing I think helped me was just my work ethic. I used to always do the extra part just to try to get better.
Q: What did the Raiders coaches say to you when they got you on the phone?
A: They said, congratulations. They said, We expect you to keep showing us the motor that you showed on the tape. Keep working harder now you’re here because this is about football now; celebrate with your family for tonight and then get ready for mini-camp when it starts because it’s about football.
Q: What were you trying to prove to scouts and coaches through this process?
A: I think the biggest thing I’m trying to show is that, I think physically I’m just as able as any other defensive end in the draft and I think that whatever they need me to do, whatever they want me to do, I’m not going to stop working until I get to that point where they’re satisfied and I’m satisfied with my performance. I really want to bring a lot to the table and I think that I’m happy that I got drafted, but for me this is the beginning. This is where I have to improve myself so I can help the Raiders and hopefully help us win the Super Bowl.
Q: Preparing to not get drafted, what’s this process been like for you?
A: It’s crazy, it’s weird because I don’t know what the coaches think. I don’t know how people rank different players and stuff and I don’t know what different coaches want. I talk to different teams with different rankings and you just never know. So a lot of these mock drafts, I don’t like to look at them, but a lot of them had me going undrafted or sixth round, seventh round, and I just kind of been hoping for the best the whole time, kind of prayed and hoped everything went well. But when I finally got the call, the waiting was hard my while family was here, I had to watch it. But when I got that phone call it was just a relief. Now I really get an opportunity to showcase what I have.
Q: Where are you right now?
A: I’m at my family’s place in New Jersey, my host family, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Q: Did your whole family move to America from England?
A: My real family still lives in London. They still live there and I keep in contact with them, closely. Ever since I’ve lived in America I’ve lived with a host family, like a big Italian family and they treat me like their family, they treat me like real family out there so I feel lucky. I feel blessed to be with them and for them, they support me and treat me like their son.
Q: What’s the name of that family?
Q: You grew up in London, Aresenal supporter?
A: Yeah, yeah (laughs).
Q: Thank you, congratulations.
A: Thank you so much, man.
The Raiders selected defensive end Christo Bilukidi with the 189th pick of the NFL draft. Bilukidi played collegiately at Georgia State. Read the rest of this entry »