Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why Terrelle Pryor should not be written-off

Via Google Images, Pryor Scrambles away from Bears defender

The buzz around the Raiders is that the 2014 starting quarterback may not be on the roster. The Raiders did not do anything to dispell the myth at the combine, as they were interested in many of the top picks. Hence there are many reports indicating the Raiders are shopping Terrelle Pryor for a late draft pick.  Others suggest he may be cut if the Raiders can not find value for him on the trade block. Here are some of the arguments being made, as to why Pryor has played his last down for the Raiders.

The Raiders have not seen enough development in 3 years.

Why Does Pryor deserve another shot with the organization responsible for drafting him three years ago? Yes, the Raiders know what they have in Pryor, but the truth is he is still learning to play the position. He made a huge jump from his second season to the third, and I Pryor’s work ethic could be displayed this season as well.

Dennis Allen and Pryor don’t seem to get along.

Sure their were media reported drama here and there.Both sides have remained professional enough to not burn the bridge completely.The truth is, Pryor and Allen are both professionals and competitors wanting to win. I think the two men can put aside whatever charachter clashes they have to win ball games. The fact is, this is bigger than Dennis Allen. Mark Davis has his sights on a new stadium but more importantly winning. If Pryor gives them the best shot at that, then Mark should channel his inner Al and keep Pryor on Scholarship.

Pryor does not fit the Raiders scheme.

Maybe the Raiders do favor a quarterback with more traditional traits. Yet, mobile quarterbacks are the new way of the world. Pryor gives them an element to their offense that McGloin does not. His electric speed and size possess the playmaking ability the Raiders are desperate for. Take a look at the draft, even the NFL’s newest prospects do not posess the type of god given athletecism Pryor has.

Raiders have interested in Free Agent and Rookie QBs

This is fine. The Raiders have not had a franchise QB in years, so they should be exploring every option to fill their void. Pryor should be included as one of those options. He shouldn’t be written off even before training camp. He has enough potential and experience to atleast warrant a back up oppurtunity. Worst case scenario the Raiders could cut him after Training Camp, IF and only IF someone else beats him out.

Pryor is not an ideal backup

The argument here is teams want a backup similar to their starter so their is not two different offenses installed. My take is, don’t you want a Backup QB who can win games if your starter comes out? Pryor has proven his ability to impact games and that is the kind of quarterback I want if my starter comes out. Sure he makes mistakes, and he is not perfect, but he doesn’t need to be if he is a backup. Not to mention, after backing-up McGloin, Pryor said all the right things. He did not cause a distraction and handled the matter like a professional. Moreover, with the amount of mobile QBS in the league the Raiders need one of their own to give the Defense an honestly look week to week. How is it better to have a Matt McGloin as a back-up? Sure Allen likes McGloin better than Pryor, but does that mean he is a better back-up than Pryor. If McGloin is better then let him prove it camp.

It is best for both parties to move forward.

Really? How is it better if Pryor goes and plays well for another team? I guess most people are operating under the assumption that Pryor won’t play well on another team. I am not so sure on that, the jury is still out as the young man tries to improve his mechanics this offseason. Additionally,  I am sure Pryor wants the chance to bring wins to a franchise that drafted him and a fanbase that supported him. Pryor wants to be a starter, and the Raiders need a starter; that should atleast be enough mutual interest to warrant a competition.

In closing, the Raiders need a lot of help and should be exploring every option to make their team better. Pryor should not be written off as an option for this team moving forward. At least give Pryor another offseason of growth before writing him off as a Quarterback. The Raiders should allow him to compete with McGloin and any other options at Qb via the Draft or Free Agency. What is the worst that could happen? Pryor competes and wins the starting job, which forces Allen to play him, Again?

Snoop Dogg thinks the Raiders should keep Terrelle Pryor, while Vic Tafur, Raiders Beat writer thinks the team is likely done with Pryor. Where do you fall? Vote on the Poll

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Why the Combine still Matters

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What is all the hype with the combine? Who cares what time someone ran, or how many bench presses someone has. Why hype up the combine?
As fans, we want to see players flying around making plays and touchdowns. We do not care if they can run around bags or throw on air.

Even In High School, I can remember the players that excelled in tee shirts and shorts. The guys who would have people buzzing about their athleticism due to plays made without pads. Once the pads came on, they were a completely different football player despite their athleticism. The people with 100 spare ratings were the same ones tapping out once they got hit in pads.

The combine is the same principle. Every draft there is a player who wows scouts and has a team reach for him based on the athleticism. Said player may not have success on the field just because they ran or jumped well at the combine (ask any Raider fan). Then teams are left with a draft bust and angry fan base.

Why bother with the combine at all, if the tests do not mean success in the NFL?

No these drills are not the end all be all determinate of a prospects potential career in the NFL. Prospects prepare for months at high end facilities geared towards the type of combine testing that goes on in Indianapolis. That is part of the reason why prospects fair so well.

So why bother? Prospects have already put together hours of game tape that show what they can do on the field. Why not focus for bettering the infield product rather than combine numbers.

The answer is simple. The combine itself is an overwhelming experience for the players. They are put into a four day gauntlet of position drills, measurable tests, academic tests, interviews, and medical exams.

As an employer, NFL teams want to see how their potential investments fair in a high stress environment

Pro-days already offer the same combine drills, testing, exams, and interviews that the combine offers. The difference is The combine makes players step out of their comfort zone. Prospects are not dressing in their locker rooms, working with their coaches, or playing with their teammates. You want to see how a prospect reacts to leaving their comfortable college stage and entering the media spectacle that is the NFL combine

From a competition standpoint, it does not get better than the The NFL Combine

How often do you get. 300 of the best football players in one arena? Almost never. I remember being in my own High School combines, I wanted to see how I faired against the best around. I wanted to see if the best were as advertised.

The same should be said about the NFL. Teams want the player who wants to be the best. To be the best, you have to showcase that within your peers. Combine is the chance for NFL prospects like Clowney and Watkins to show why they are the consensus best players of their position. I give more power to them for wanting to showcase their abilities in pos. drills and athletic tests. Just being around that many good players with NFL eyes on you can be nerve-racking, but It is preparation for the type of competition in the Dog eat Dog NFL.

The game is still based around athleticism.
Every team is always looking for the next best thing. They want the big receiver, the running QB, the tweener safety, the big corner, and the lighting explosive pass rusher. The combine is for teams to see every players athleticism on display. Some say these drills are outdated having been the same since the first combine. Well players have been rehearsing these drills for years, there is a reason for that. These drills and tests have stayed around because they are the best judgement of a players athleticism translated to the game of football.

The Interview process is the most underrated part of the Combine.

The combine in itself is a large job interview. While scouts have familiarized themselves with players all year, The combine is an opportunity for Players to get acquainted with Teams coaching staffs. This is a really underrated part of the process because a prospect needs to be put into a position to succeed.

Like any other job, a player has to fit the organizational culture. Coaches have to be able to see themselves coaching said prospect, and they have to feel said player will fit in their locker room. Otherwise it is hard for a prospect to develop, with no mutual feelings of comfort between the player and organization. Not to mention today’s heavily media driven society means fans and media are more connected to players than ever. Teams are investing a lot of stake into these draft players and interviews are key to making sure a prospect is mature enough to handle the jump from amateur to professional.

The combine is the bridge between being a collegiate athlete and becoming a professional Football player.

It is not just a test of athleticism, personality, health, or football IQ. The NFL Scouting Combine is a small test to see if a player has what it takes to survive the multiple aspects of being an NFL football player. NFL teams want to see if prospects can handle the distractions and put an impressive product on the field.

In closing, The NFL Combine is not going anywhere. There is no magical way to predict how a player will transition to life as an NFL player. No matter how many tests there are, outliers will always disprove the system with successes and failures. Being successful in the NFL is a daily feat and no test can accurately access how a player will translate in the professional field. Either way, The Combine and the spectacle it has become, serves as the start to the spectacle that is NFL life, where eyes are watching you no matter.

Prospects Raiders should key on in combine.

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Sammy Watkins Clemson

Watkins has broken away as the consensus #1 receiver in the draft. After torching Ohio St. In the Orange Bowl he has propelled himself as a top 10 prospect in the whole draft. If the Raiders are not in love with QBS or Pass Rushers at #5 then they will probably trade down. But if Watkins is available at 5, the Raiders may warrant a Watkins selection as the best player available in the draft. Receiver may not be their biggest need but Watkins versatility to play outside or in the slot can benefit the other Raiders’ receivers and any QBS under center for Oakland. Not to mention Oakland’s Offense desperately needs some home run threats.

What Watkins does in the scouting combine will determine if Watkins is better than the rest of the WR field in this draft. Oakland could fall in love with him at the top of the draft or they may elect to wait on Watkins and address the WR position via later rounds or free agency. This is a very deep receiving class and a poor performance in Indianapolis May justify the Raiders waiting til the 2nd.

Derek Carr QB Fresno

After a great week in Mobile for Derek Carr, he reaffirmed himself as the best senior QB prospect in this draft. His pocket presence and rocket arm have scouts and teams buying into a top 10 draft prospect.

However limited competition at Fresno and other small issues have teams unsure where he falls amongst the QBS at the top of draft boards(Bridgewater, Bortes, Manziel). Indianapolis will give teams a chance to see if he is in the top tier of QBS or if he is the top prospect amongst the other QBS.

How Carr fares in the combine could easily be the difference between being drafted in the top 15 or falling somewhere in the 2nd rd. Either way the Raiders will continue keeping an eye on Carr to determine his draft status

Blake Bortes

Bortes announced that he planned to do everything at the Combine. This shows exactly what kind of competitor Bortes is. The top quarterback position is completely up for grabs in this draft. Bortes’ performance in this combine could be the difference in him being selected top 5 or early second round. Scouts are all over the place on Bortes Value. The combine is another place for the teams to familiarize themselves with the mid-major school prospect. The Raiders will have their eyes on him because he is the biggest boom or bust quarterback in the pool

Offensive Guards

Whoever the Raiders elect as their starting QB is going to need more blocking upfront. I believe Lg Nix was rated one of the worse starters by profoootball focus. Guard is a position not usually utilized in the first round, but there are plenty of interior linemen jumbled up in the top of the second round in mock drafts. Indianapolis will be a venue for many of these guys to separate themselves.

The Raiders should address the roster need at the top of the 2nd or 3rd rd depending which guy they like. Names on the list: Stanford David Yankey, Miss st. Gabe Jackson, Baylor Cyril Richardson, and UCLA Xavier Sua’-Filo. Any of those could help the Raiders in the second round, so Indianapolis will help them establish a preference.

Outside of that Clemson’s Brandon Thomas and Notre Dame’s Chris Watt are some low risk high reward picks. Either would provide versatility to the Raiders OL. A great performance at the combine could propel either into the first group of Offensive Guards.

Defensive Tackles

Defensive Tackle is one of the least deep positions in this draft. However the Raiders need more youth in the middle of the defense. The combine is an opportunity for the Raiders to develop a preference between the mid round tackles.

Pitt’s Aaron Donald is the consensus most NFL ready, prospect and the Raiders will have to consider him. The combine will determine if Donald is much better than the field. He has the game tape, so his measurables will incredibly important, as he is considered undersized.

Minnesota’s RaShede Hagemon. Hagemon looks the part and probably has the most ceiling, but he will answer questions about his work ethic at the Combine. He may not be available for the Raiders, but they should do their homework just in case he is

ASU’s Will Sutton is another name to keep an eye on. A year ago he was one of the top prospects in the whole draft but weight and production problems have reduced his draft stock as low as the third round. If Sutton can get below 300lbs. he can be an explosive mid round steal. Raiders should key in on his footwork and individual drills.

Stephon Tuitt, of Notre Dame, also suffered a major stock fall. Raiders will have an oppurtunity to decide if Tuitt is closer to the senior or junior version. Either way, he could be tremendous value if he stumbles into the third round.

Florida’s Dom Easley is coming off of his second rehabilitation of two non related ACLU injuries. He will have to capture people’s attention in the interviews and remind Teams exactly how dominate he was. Raiders should key on his Medical screens.

Bargain Bin Free Agents

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FA DE Justin Tuck

Anyone who thinks the Raiders are going to break the bank for any big time free agents is living in a fantasy world. GM Reggie McKenzie has a background in a Packers organization that doesn’t over pay for free agents. McKenzie himself has stressed building through the draft, which will be his primary means of building this team.

I don’t expect the Raiders to go out and spend all of their money in one place. They finally got out of salary cap hell, and I don’t think McKenzie wants to put his franchise in jeopardy of a similar fate. I think The GM will repeat his trend of signing low-risk, high-reward veteran free agents. Here are some less popular names the Raiders could net on a bargain rate.

Defensive line 

One of the Raiders biggest glaring need is on the defensive line. In a pass happy league, pass rushers are at a premium and this free agent class has quite a few.

Henry Melton, DT, Bears

After receiving the franchise tag last off season, Henry Melton suffered an injury in week 3. As a consequence, the Bears finished 30th against the run. Melton could easily come in and be the pass rushing 3 technique the Raiders have been wanting. The fact that he is coming off a major injury could mean a discount.

Justin Tuck, De, Giants

Justin Tuck has reportedly said he will not give the New York Giants a hometown discount. Tuck’s days in big blue could be over for the same reason Umenyera’s were last off season. Tuck has had his fair share of injury concerns over the past 3 seasons. However, in 2013 he finished the year with 11 sacks in a rebound season. Tuck possesses the type of versatility Jason Tarver would love to have. He may have to sign a 1 year ‘prove it’ contract, and the Raiders have the cap and playing time to attract Tuck. At 31 years old, the Raiders may even be able to give this savvy veteran his last big pay day if they can come to terms on a decent long term deal. Either way adding Tuck’s championship experience is priceless.

Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings

At 33 years old Kevin Williams may no longer be the dominating run stopper and pass rusher he once was. Raiders fans may want his Viking teammate Jared Allen, but Williams may be the more realistic option. The Raiders may lose Pat Simms and/or Vance Walker, both of whom boosted the Raiders run defense, so Williams would be a better replacement. He is quick enough to be a 1 technique in a 4-3 or a nose in a 3-4. The Raiders should offer Williams his last multi year deal, which should be less than the 5 million dollar salary he played at last season.

Anthony Spencer, De, Cowboys

Like Melton, Spencer received the Franchise tag only to have a season ending injury early in the season. Spencer’s best season came in 2012 when he had his only season with double digit sacks. Big D, and many other teams may be hesitant to give him big money with a big injury and limited production. I think the Raiders would do well to add Spencer’s pass rush ability to  their defense on a one year deal. Tarver’s scheme could help Spencer showcase his talents as a stand up linebacker or hand down defensive linemen.

Other names: Antonio Smith, Tyson Jackson, Robert Ayers, Alex Carrington, Corey Peters, Justin Babineaux, Clinton McDonald, Randy Starks, Paul Solali
Secondary

The Raiders secondary could only take steps forward after a horrible 2012. Last years additions of Charles Woodson, Mike Jenkins, and Tracey Porter added much needed veteran savy to the secondary, however those guys are free agents again and the team could use an upgrade. Any of those 3 guys could return at a bargain rate but the Raiders should have their eyes on other names.

Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks

Thurmond was the 4th best CB for the NFL champion Seahawks, but he could be a starter elsewhere. At only 26, he could be a lo key addition and physical corner prized by the Raiders defense. Personally I do not prize him as an ideal starter next to DJ Hayden but Thurmond could be a low cost substitution should the Raiders miss on the marquee free agents at the position…Aquib Talib, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Charles Tillman, CB, Bears

Tillman is coming off one of his worst seasons because of injury and lack of production. However, he was one of the best corners not too long ago. His price will be right and physicality could boost the secondary. Tillman is in his 30s but he could be a good mentor for Hayden.

Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints

Jenkins time for New Orleans is all but up, because the team will scramble to free up cap for a big Jimmy Graham contract. Regardless if Woodson is back with the team, the Raiders need to address the FS position. Jenkins brings the kind of Versatility Tarver values in DBS. He is also 29 years old, has a Super Bowl ring with Dennis Allen and could be a discounted addition for the secondary in nickel and passing situations.

Antoine Bethea, SS, Colts

Another player with Super Bowl experience never hurts a team trying to make a playoff push. He may not be a great addition in coverage, but his is smart and boasted another 100+ tackle season. Some may prefer Donta Whitner, but I think Bethea is better in coverage. Either would be a much more affordable target than Julius Byrd.

Other names: Sam shields, Tarell Brown, Bernard Pollard, Nate Allen, Ryan Clark, Donte Whitner, ,

20140207-155222.jpg FA safety Malcolm Jenkins