Monthly Archives: January 2014

Raiders should have eyes on Reciever in 14′ Draft

Watching the AFC Playoffs, and watching 3 division rivals play for a Superbowl is rough. As I watch the Broncos, Chargers, and Chiefs I realize how undermatched the Raiders really were. The Raiders offense lacked the playmakers to compete against those teams. The Chargers have Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal, The Broncos have Demarius Thomas, Wes Walker, and Knowshown Moreno, and The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
For the Raiders, recievers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater flashed potential, but they still lack the ability to consistently dominate a game. The combination of Raiders Recievers were mediocre at best. Streater caught 900 yards, Moore caught 600 despite injuries, and Holmes caught 400 towards the end of the season.

Bottom Line: Regardless of who the Raiders have at Quarterback, The Raiders need an explosive gamechanger around him. The Raiders need to adress the receiver position sometime between rounds 1-3 of the draft. Young Tighte Ends Rivera and Kasa flashed potentional, but could also benefit from an outside threat who can be relied on for big 3rd down catches. Here is my anaylsis of this draft classes’ recievers. While Sammy Watkins seems to be the conseus #1 reciever, this is still a very deep draft class of pass catchers. If they miss out on Watkins the Raiders can still get quality later in the draft.

1. Sammy Watkins-Clemson

Sammy Watkins is only 6-1. He isn’t the massive target that AJ Green or Julio Jones were. Watkins can change the game. He has the versatility to play the outside or inside position. His effortless acceleration makes crisp routes, and big plays down the field. He can take the ball anytime he touches it rather it is a return, screen, or run play. Besides his advance route tree I think Watkins possess a lot of maturity unlike Moore. I think he is the most NFL polished reciever in this draft and who ever the Raiders have at QB will be better of this guy. Even the most pessimistic Raider fan can not argue him being drafted at 5, but ideally the Raiders would love to grab him and another draft pick via trading down in the first.

2. Mike Evans-Texas A &M

Mike Evans is a monster 6-5 posession style reciever. He has the size Reggie Mckenzie likes for his west coast offense. Evans has been compared to Vincent Jackson, but he is still raw. He makes big plays, but there are stretches when he is ineffective. Whoever drafts Evans will have to allow him develop his route running skills. Some Team will probably fall in love with Evans for the middle-late first round, so it is unlikely he will be a Raider. I think the Raiders could do better adding one of the more polished receiving targets

3. Marques Lee -USC

Marques Lee was probably one of the top receiving targets in last years draft. He won the Biletnikoff award as a junior, but followed it up with a disappointing senior year. Lee has a good combination of size and speed, and showcased that with 118 yds & 2 tds in his last game as a Trojan. His production and route running should translate to the next level. The Raiders could be very happy if he is on the board when they select in the 2nd round.

4. Allen Robinson

At 6’2, 211 lbs. Allen Robinson can grab balls out of the air. From Penn state, the reciever has a continuity with Matt McGloin. He had back to back 1,000 yds receiving, however, the knock on him is he doesn’t do anything spectacular and he has had some drops. The Raiders will have a tough decision between him and Lee in the 2nd, but Robinson will be considered.

5. Brandin Cooks- Oregon St.

128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns are Cooks stats in 2013, as he was named the nations best reciever. He draws some comparisons to Tayvon Austin because he is undersized. At 5’11 186 Cooks is undersized, but he is also the biggest threat in the open field. If he falls to the 3rd round he could be an absolute steal. His speed and play-making ability could command attention from Streater, Holmes, and Moore. Cooks would add another dimension to the Raiders offense, so I could even accept the Raiders drafting him in the 2nd.

6. Davante Adams- Fresno State

I don’t care what anyone says, there is something about catching 24 touchdown passes in a season. Davante Adams did that in 2013. Yes he did it with an NFL QB and a Down-field system. However, Adams is an explosive down-field threat. His speed and size allow him to make plays on the ball. He could go anywhere between the late first and early third round. The Raiders need someone who has a nose for the end-zone. Adams is a local head and would be the down-field threat Raiders fans would love.

7. Kelvin Benjamin- Florida State

Benjamin is sure to have someone fall in love with him. He is a 6’5 reciever with enough speed to get down the field. He is coming off a national championship, which is a benefit of playing with a heisman winner. He could be as low as Mike Williams or as High as Vincent Jackson. Someone may reach for him in the 1st rd, but he should probably have enough upside to be worth a 2nd rd pick.

8. Jordan Matthews- Vanderbilt

He only played in the toughest college football conference, but Matthews might be a sleeper pick. At 6’3 he can make plays on the ball, and drops are uncommon for Matthews. He has a 2nd round grade according to CBSSPORTS.com and he could fall to the early 3rd for the Raiders.

9. Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU

Beckham won an award for having the most yards in all of football. He is raw, but his kick returning ability should have him climb up draft boards. At 5’11 205LBs he doesn’t have elite size, but his hands and route running ability are underrated. The Raiders desperately need a game-changer in the return game, and someone to stretch the field. Beckham could be that answer in the 3rd, as he averaged 19 yds a reception last season.

10. Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin

Despite shaky quarterback play he had a 78 reception season in 2013.  At 6’1 he doesn’t have great size or jump off the tape, which will probably hurt his status compared to others in the draft. He does make plays and is one of the most underrated prospects according to SI.com. He can make plays and if the Raiders should take him in the 3rd or 4th rd.

Best of the Rest:

Paul Richardson- Colorado

Bruce Ellington- South Carolina

Donte Moncrief- Ole Miss

Mike Davis- Texas

Jarvis Landry- LSU

Martavis Bradley- Clemson

Cody Latimore- Indiana

The Result: I am old-school, I like my Raiders recievers fast and able to stretch the field. I can live with adding a dynamic play maker at #5 by drafting Watkins. However, if they select a defensive player with #5 then there are plenty of options in the 2nd round. Lee and Robinson are probably the best players available if they are available at the top of the second. I like Lee despite the track record of USC receivers, he has enough production and upside to be the raiders #1. Cooks or Adams could also be considered at the top of the second round because of their dynamic play-making ability. I like the dimensions either of those guys add as a compliment to the Raiders Receivers Corps. If the Raiders do decide to hold out until the 3rd round than Cooks or Adams should be the no brainer pick if either are available. Outside of that, Beckham could also be a great value selection in the 3rd round because of his special teams ability. Some of the other receivers are bound to fall and the Raiders have other needs, hence they may just wait until the 3rd round and select the best available. My Personal favorite is Adams. Adams is a local out of Fresno State, and you can not teach 24 tds. I don’t care what anyone says, the Raiders need someone who has a nose for the endzone. He might be raw, but I wouldn’t mind the Raiders selecting a defensive player #5 and getting Adams in the 2nd rd.

 

Images via Google Images

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First things First

We all mock free agency. Normal people feel like it is millionaires complaining about 10  or 12 million to play a game. The truth is, the NFL is a business and these are guys jobs, livelihoods, and families impacted by this once in a while decision. If regular people could be courted every few years by their companies competition, than they would take every advantage of it. It should be no suprise then that professional athletes look forward to the oppurtunity once their rookie contract expires. This is money that is suppossed to last them their entire lives, so if one employer undervalues you then you have a right to get compensated better else where. Therefore, we can not blame players for wanting to test free agency. In the NFL rookie contracts are large, but the second contract is what seperates the ballers from the busts and keeps players wealthy. The Raiders have two of their own coming off the books, and before they do anything else they have to show them it is plenty green on this side of the fence.

The salary cap shackles are finally coming off of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders will have over 50 million in dead money coming off the books for the 2014 year. The Raiders will have a full stock of draft picks and salary cap space for General Manager Reggie Mckenzie to address various roster concerns.

Raiders GMReggie Mckenzie has preached building through the draft since he came into the position, two seasons ago. If Mckenzie wants to stick to that philosphy he has to start by giving Jared Valdheer and Lemarr Houston long term contracts.

Valdheer became a starter at Left Tackle his rookie season, and has been one of the Raiders most consistent players. Despite a torn tri-cept injury this season, Valdheer battled back and played well towards the ends of the season. On Defense, Houston has become rewknown around the league as a high motor defender capable of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. Houston is coming off his best statistical season and played most of the Raiders defensive snaps.  Both players have become leaders of their respective units, and have been  the few bright spots on an overmatched team. Each of these guys have played out their rookie deals and have earned an oppurtunity to test free agency. Houston said he is unsure if he will be back, because Dennis Allen may want someone else for their scheme, however, he and Valdheer have both expressed a desire to comeback if they are wanted (That is the politically correct statement we are used)

McKenzie can not afford to have either of these guys walk. Besides being underated at their positions, both of these players are young and approaching their prime. Mckenzie has already let many of the previous regime’s draft picks walk, so Mckenzie needs to salvage the few draft picks that have panned out, from the previous regime. This team already has needs on both sides of the field, and can not afford to add left tackle and defensive end to that list. The league has become a passing league, so defensive end and left tackle are two critical positions on the field. Precisely why either of these guys will leave if the Raiders do not make a great offer.

Mckenzie has preached continuity, and he needs to reiterate that by resigning two of his best players on the whole roster. The two players have battled through the organizations struggles on and off the field, but have emerged as constant workers and leaders of this football team. If the Raiders can not sign their own big name players, then how can they attract marquee free agents? I do not expect either Valdheer or Houston to come at a discounted rate. The two players have enough potential upside and game tape to earn themselves a big contract somewhere else if the Raiders low ball them. The closer free agency approaches, the closer these two are from commanding money big elsewhere.

However, I don’t expect Mckenzie to break bank for either of these guys. Once upon a time, Al Davis gave his guys lucrative contracts even if their play didn’t match it. Davis is gone and I don’t expect Mckenzie to overpay for either of these guys. He came from an organization in Green Bay that does not overpay its players.I understand neither of these guys were drafted by McKenzie, and McKenzie may not feel obligated to get these guys a deal. Last off-season, McKenzie let Desmond Bryant and Brandon Myers after they were essential contributers on the Raiders. Last offseason the Raiders had zero cap space, but this season they have tons of cap flexibility  and can not afford to lose two of their own, again.

Frankly, the Raiders need these two guys. The Raiders Roster lacks talent throughout, and McKenzie can not expect to replace everybody. That may give the players the leverage that they need to command a big deal or walk. Either way, The money is there for the Raiders. I know McKenzie will not spend all of the money in one place, as he wants to preserve cap flexibility. Neither should he undervalue two professional players who have give their all to an organization even in its ‘lost’ season(s). Hence the Raiders need to do whatever it takes to keep these guys. Even if Mckenie doesn’t believe these are the guys to build his franchise around, he has to start somewhere. These guys have played their way, haven’t complained, and deserve the big pay day. If the Raiders can not come to terms on a deal with either of these guys then there going to have a lot more to reconstruct. I would hate to see another franchise benefit from their play after the Raiders spent so much time developing these two players. A lot will unfold from here to free agency, but the longer McKenzie waits to give them an extension, the more likely they will bolt to another franchise. Time is ticking and the Raiders do not need either of these guys to test the market.

I would hope Houston and Valdheer have bought into what the Raiders are selling enough to not jump ship. I would hope they want to finish the rebuild they started, and give wins back to a fanbase that constantly gives to them. However, the NFL is a business, and I am not in the lockerroom or coaches meetings to really understand the two players dynamic on and off the field. I do know that seeing these guys in something other than silver and black will be crushing. Ask Nnadami or Charles Woodson, no fans will love you as much as Raiders fans do when your a Raider.