Raiders announce undrafted free-agent signings


The Raiders bolstered their roster on the heels of the NFL draft by signing 14 players that went undrafted.
During the three-round, seven-round draft last week, the Raiders added 10 players. Soon thereafter, they added the following 14:
Linebacker Billy Boyko (Lehigh), defensive back Adrian Bushnell (Louisville), punter Bobby Cowan (Idaho), center Deveric Gallington (Texas Tech), safety Shelton Johnson (Wisconsin), tight end Brian Leonhardt (Bemidji State), guard Lamar Mady (Youngstown State), wide receivers Sam McGuffie (Rice) and Conner Vernon (Duke), QB Kyle Padron (Eastern Washington), defensive tackle Kurt Taufa’asau (Wyoming), offensive tackle John Wetzel (Boston College), running back Deonte Williams (Cal Poly) and long-snapper Adam Steiner (Akron).
Here’s brief bios on the newest Raiders.

Billy Boyko (6-2, 240) LB – Lehigh: Played four years at Lehigh, playing in 41 games. He played in 11 games with 10 starts as a senior, leading the team with 104 tackles (53 solo).

Adrian Bushell (5-10, 190) DB – Louisville: Played two years at Louisville after also playing at Cedar Valley Community College and Florida. He posted 62 tackles (45 solo) and one interception as a senior at Louisville.

Bobby Cowan (6-4, 220) P – Idaho: Played four years at Idaho, becoming Idaho’s all-time leading punter with an average of 44.7 yards per punt. He punted 70 times as a senior, averaging 43.1 yards per attempt.

Deveric Gallington (6-3, 315) C – Texas Tech: Finished collegiate career making 38 consecutive starts on the offensive line. He started all 13 games as a senior and helped the team rush for 1,674 yards, the most for Texas Tech since 1998.

Shelton Johnson (6-0, 197) S – Wisconsin: Saw action in 46 games with 23 starts in four years at Wisconsin. He played in 11 games with 10 starts as a senior in 2012, and recorded four interceptions as a junior in 2011.

Brian Leonhardt (6-5, 255) TE – Bemidji State: Played four years at Bemidji State. He ranked third on the team with 25 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns as a senior.

Lamar Mady (6-2, 315) G – Youngstown State: Played two years at Youngstown State after transferring from Butler County Community College. He started all 11 games as a senior in 2012.

Sam McGuffie (5-10, 200) WR – Rice: Played three years at Rice after transferring from Michigan. He became first Rice player with 1,000 career yards in both rushing and receiving. As a senior, he totaled 54 receptions for 603 yards and five touchdowns.

Kyle Padron (6-3, 225) QB – Eastern Washington: Played one season at Eastern Washington after transferring from SMU. He played in 11 games as a senior, completing 175-of-296 pass attempts for 2,491 yards and 17 touchdowns. He posted a 12-9 record in 21 starts at SMU.

Adam Steiner (6-2, 240) LS – Akron: Saw action as Akron’s long-snapper for four years. His father, Charles, played in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills.

Kurt Taufa’asau (6-2, 300) DT – Wyoming: Played two years at Wyoming after transferring from New Mexico Military College. He played in seven games as a senior, totaling 22 tackles (13 solo) and 1 ½ tackles for loss.

Conner Vernon (6-0, 192) WR – Duke: Played four years at Duke, totaling 198 receptions for 2,675 yards and 13 touchdowns. A two-time second-team All-ACC selection, he became the only player in ACC history to register multiple seasons with 70 or more receptions.

John Wetzel (6-7, 315) T – Boston College: Saw action in 38 games in four years at Boston College. He started all 12 games as a senior in 2012, pass blocking for an offense that averaged 259.3 passing yards per game.

Deonte Williams (5-10, 213) RB – Cal Poly: Played two years at Cal Poly after transferring from Sierra College. An Oakland native, he rushed for 1,547 yards on 231 carries and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2012.


Ranking AFC West teams in NFL draft


Every other team in the AFC West these days is chasing the Denver Broncos, a team many view as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers combined for an 0-6 mark against the Broncos last season, but they outdrafted the Broncos and gained some much needed confidence moving forward.
Here’s a team-by-team look at how the four AFC West teams fared, from best to worst:

1. Chargers – New general manager Tom Telesco and first-year coach Mike McCoy made a great first impression by finding sure-fire starters with their top three selections: offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, linebacker Manti Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen. There’s work to do yet, but the aforementioned trio qualifies as a nice start.

OT D.J. Fluker
LB Manti Te’o
WR Keenan Allen
CB Steve Williams
DE Tourek Williams
QB Brad Sorensen

2. Raiders – It’s hard to go wrong when you enter a draft with as many glaring needs as the Raiders had this year. Sure enough, the Raiders landed four players that likely will be starting by season’s end, at the latest: cornerback D.J. Hayden, offensive tackle Menelik Watson, linebacker Sio Moore and one of two tight ends selected in the sixth round. This draft class becomes one for the ages if quarterback Tyler Wilson, a fourth-round flier, develops into a long-time starter.

CB D.J. Hayden
OT Menelik Watson
LB Sio Moore
QB Tyler Wilson
TE Nick Kasa
RB Latavius Murray
TE Mychal Rivera
DT Stacy McGee
WR Brice Butler
DE Davis Bass

3. Chiefs – Finding a starting left offensive tackle makes any draft a raging success. That’s about all the Chiefs can count upon with a draft class littered with questionable selections. Tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis figure to make the roster and contribute right away.

OT Eric Fisher
TE Travis Kelce
RB Knile Davis
LB Nico Johnson
CB Sanders Commings
C Eric Kush
FB Braden Wilson
DE Mike Catapano

4. Broncos – It’s difficult to find anything to get excited about with this draft class. Williams might develop into a solid run stopper. Ball might be the lead back the Broncos desire. Dysert might be the heir apparent to Peyton Manning. So much potential, too many question marks for the Broncos to feel too good about this year’s bounty.

DT Sylvester Williams
RB Montee Ball
CB Kayvon Webster
DE Quanterus Smith
WR Tavarres King
OT Vinston Painter
QB Zac Dysert


Q&A with WR Butler


The Raiders selected San Diego State Brice Butler in the seventh round of the NFL draft. Soon after he was drafted, Butler fielded questions from the Bay Area media via conference call at Raiders headquarters in Alameda. Here’s the transcript:

Why did you transfer from USC?
“You know, a coaching staff came in that was totally new, pretty much revamped the whole staff. With the football staff coming in, they had a different agenda, trying to bring in guys and trying to win games as soon as possible. Like you said, I went from a guy who was a Pac-10 freshman runner-up or freshman all-conference team or something like that, to a guy that didn’t play that much because Coach had to make a decision, and he made a decision and he went with it.”

Will you play receiver here?
“I never heard that from the Raiders, no. I’m pretty sure they want me to play receiver.”

Your dad had a long NFL career?
“Yes, sir.”

Did he give you any insight about this process?
“Yeah. Really, taught me on what lies ahead. He was projected a first rounder when he was coming out and got drafted first round. So with that being said, I knew I was gonna be seventh or free agent, so he couldn’t really give me too much on the draft process because there wasn’t really no process for my dad. Like back in the day when he came out, the draft was early. He got picked in the first round. So he just woke up and his phone was ringing. He picked up the phone and it was the Atlanta Falcons. But I mean outside of that, he definitely told me a lot about the business of the NFL, and the ins and outs, certain things, and what to be prepared for and how to handle the things to come.”

Q: What was your contact like with Raiders?
A: I knew they were interested. Coach Gilmore, a guy that coached me at USC, he’s been talking to me throughout the whole process. He called me I would like to say 10 or 15 minutes before they drafted me and said ‘Hey man, we got a couple of picks left. I’m trying my hardest to get you up here man. I know what you can bring to the table and I would love to coach you again.’ He said that and I was like ‘Definitely coach. You know I would love to play for you again and I loved it when I was with you at SC. If that opportunity arises I’d definitely be ready to go.’ Ten, 15 minutes later, man, the Raiders are calling.

Q: Was it a goal to graduate in three years?
A: It was a goal. Going into SC I definitely wanted to get my degree. My mindset going into college was going three and out. That definitely didn’t happen. Since that was my mindset my thing was to graduate as fast as possible. With that being said I was staying for summer school. You have to work out at the school in the summer. I couldn’t come home to Atlanta. That’s a far flight so I was staying at school and was in summer school every year taking two or three courses in summer school so it was just knocking out a whole bunch of units and I was able to graduate a little early.

Q: Said at pro day you thought you would be 6th or 7th before pro day, surprised stick didn’t go higher?
A: Oh no not at all man. The whole time my agents were telling me before the pro day my grade was seventh or free agent. With my mindset, I always like to speak things into existence so I’m going around like ‘Hey I can be sixth round. I can be seventh round. I can get drafted.’ That was my mindset but it was kind of like trying to speak it into existence. But going into pro day it was really like seventh or free agent grade. What my agent told me was if you go out and show out at pro day and do your thing it can almost solidify you a spot in the draft if you do what you have to do. I ended up having a pretty good day.


Q&A with RB Murray


The Raiders selected Central Florida running back Latavius Murray in the sixth round. At 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds, with sure hands and a running style he compares to that of Vikings standout Adrian Peterson, he bears watching during training camp. Here’s what he had to say in a conference call with Bay Area media Saturday:

Q: Heard from Raiders up until time they gave you the call, work out for ‘em?
Murray : No, I took a visit after my pro day, but that’s pretty much it. No workout. Just a few phone calls to teach in touch.

Q: Who compare running style to?
Murray : I think with my height, you talk about a big back, Adrian Peterson, a guy like McFadden out there, a tall back, running upright, but still have some speed. I think those two might stick out.

Q: Great stats, TDs, yards per carry, rushing . . .surprised lasted as long?
Murray : I mean, I wasn’t too much surprised. Either way, I was just going to be happy to hear my name. After talking to my agent, he just told me to be prepared for whatever might happen, and I was. I’m definitely just thrilled about the opportunity I’m going to have.

Q: Out in the open, run over someone or run around ‘em, mix it up?
Murray : I try to mix it up. I guess it depends on the situation. I just try to mix it up. My goal is to put the ball in the end zone every run, every play. I try to do that and if it’s necessary to do either/or, I’ll do it.

Q: Coaches talk to you about modifying you upright running style?
Murray : Not so much. After taking visits or even just talking to coaches, some guys that are in the NFL currently run upright, but I think the main time what they were saying, as long as I know when I lower my pads or drop my shoulder, is the biggest thing, because open field, you can run upright, just not in traffic. It’s just running with that pad level is important in situations.

Q: How far along are you as a blocker and did you do a lot of it at Central Florida ?
Murray : Oh yeah, most definitely. You really can’t play in any level I feel unless you protect and that’s the way I was coached, definitely at this next level you have to protect the quarterback, so I know how important it is. I’m not saying I’m not a good blocker right now, but I’m going to improve in that area as well as other areas, so I can be a complete back.

Q: Basic routes out of the backfield or split wide, downfield stuff . .
Murray : Well, mainly, during the course of our games, just basic routes, out of the backfield and things like that, but there have been times when I’ve been split out. There have been times I’ve been wing set, running routes, H-back, stuff like that. My football IQ is very high. I know the game. I get an offense and learn fast and I think that’s just going to help me at the next level.

Q: What’s this fascination about the `Tave’ arm?
Murray : the what? What’s that?

Q: The `Tave arm’’ . . . what your teammates call your stiff arm?
Murray : I’m not really sure. I think I just have good timing and know when to put it out there and catch a defender off guard or make them look bad.


Q&A with Raiders TE Rivera


The Raiders used two sixth-round picks on tight ends, the second of those being Tennessee’s Mychal Rivera. Here is what he had to say in a conference call with Bay Area media Saturday:

Q: Were you watching draft and see Raiders took another tight end and did that affect you?
A: The draft is crazy. Sometimes some teams pick up two tight ends, some teams need those. Some teams pick up one. I didn’t really have an opinion of it. I was just waiting for my phone call to ring.

Q: What did you think when saw the 510 area code on your phone?
A: Oh man I was really excited, staying in California is really a dream come true. I’m just really proud to be a Raider.

Q: Reggie McKenzie was at your pro day. Any interaction?
A: Yeah I did. I actually talked to him after I did my bench press because I had increased my bench press from 17 reps to 21. I talked to him after that and let him know I wasn’t a weak player. He kind of laughed with me and shared some laughs and some jokes. Really cool guy and I’m just really happy to be playing for a guy like that.

Q: At your size, is proving can handle physical part of tight end the question?
A: I think the Raiders have an idea what they want to do with me. They’re going to want to motion me, they’re going to want to split me out and do similar things that I did at Tennessee. I’m really great catching the ball. I think that’s what they’re going to use me for, my catching ability.

Q; Senior Bowl interaction with Raiders?
A: I was on the Detroit Lions they were on other team. Since the pro day I got a call for every team. I think the Raiders called about three or four times to confirm some information and talk with me a little bit. It wasn’t really anything special. Just normal conversation

What was Tyler Wilson like working with him at the Senior Bowl?
“Tyler Wilson has a great arm and he’s a great leader. That’s really important to be a great leader. When he steps into the huddle, he demands your attention and that’s very important for a quarterback.”

Were you aware of the Raiders having a wide open tight end competition?
“That’s awesome, that’s the best situation I could find myself in. I would be cool sitting behind a veteran or something but this is a great situation being as I can compete for being a starter. That’s awesome, I can’t ask for anything better.”

When you come out here, are you going to bring any family members with you?
“(Laughs) No, my sister, she’s gonna stay down here in Los Angeles, she’s gotta work.”

Do you have a Twitter account?
“yeah, it’s just at my first name and my last name, @MychalRivera”

Have you picked up any followers yet, Raiders fans can be pretty crazy?
“Yeah, I know, they’re starting to follow me already, starting to get the Raider Nation hashtag start following.”

Do you feel like you’re flown under the radar?
“Definitely. Looking at the research I’ve done on the first team SEC tight ends, looking at a guy like Dwayne Allen going third round last year, Orson (Charles) going fourth round the year before that, the guy from Arkansas going fourth round, I feel like I kinda went under the radar a little bit but that’s how my career’s been. Ever since high school, ever since Pop Warner I’ve been the last picked guy and gotta prove myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”