Monthly Archives: June 2014

Too Early to Call Hayden a Bust

The big news out of Raiders’ Mini-camp has been the absence of last year’s 1st round pick D.J. Hayden. After being injured off and on last season, the corner back hasĀ  left many fans disappointed that he has been unable to stay on the field. So much disappointment that many people are already calling him a bust, but I am here to say lets simmer down.

I get Raider-nation wants to see what Reggie Mckenzie’s first No ! pick can do, but he is only entering his second off season. How can you call him a bust already, before he can even piece together a real season? The best argument would be that he might not be able to complete a full-season, and might just be an injury prone guy. Yet, lets not get ahead of ourselves, as injuries happen to every single player.

As Raider fans we grow nervous because of players like Darren McFadden who have broken our heart over and over again. Yet injuries are part of the game, and young players have to learn to deal with them. Silver innings are usually BS, but Hayden’s injury means he will be able to get mental reps that should help him when he can get out there again.

Out of all the players on the Roster, I think DJ Hayden needs these off season reps more than anyone. Hayden was out of football for an entire year due to his extreme chest injury, and he still needs time adapting to the speed of the game. However, the young player has shown he can deal with the adversity of injuries as he came in willing and ready to compete after each of his injuries.

In the past, Hayden has shown an injury will not keep him from competing. Nor will it discourage him from believing in his abilities. Hence, I hope he takes the time to get fully healed before the real season comes along, because that is when real lingering injuries occur.

Further, Hayden is still an extremely young player with a lot of upside. His speed and athleticism are something you can not teach, but his football iq and work ethic should keep fans believing he can live up to his potential. This season, he added fifteen pounds of muscle so his body could take the pounding of the NFL, which illustrates his work ethic.

As fans, it is frustrating that he is already out, but lets remember it is only mini-camp. They are still not actually playing football, so until Hayden misses some time in actual pads then I will worry. Other than that our secondary is going to need depth, so getting McGill and Chidekwa reps is just as important.

Either way it was too early in Hayden’s career and the 2014 season to label Hayden a bust. Our team wants and needs him, so lets be a little more fair to him and give his game and health a little more time before labeling him a bust.

Saying who we could have drafted last season does us no good. The fact is, Hayden was drafted to be a cornerstone of our defense and it is our job as fans to support him as he strives to meet that goal. Labeling him a bust does nothing good for a player we fans want to see succeed, especially this early.

2014 Draft shows Raiders building a Culture

Now that the dust has settled on the NFL Draft, rookie contracts, and rookie mini-camps the Oakland Raiders can be excited about their 2014 draft class. I have never been an advid supporter of GM Reggie McKenzie, however, he should be applauded for having a top-notch draft classes. Besides the talent he was able to obtain, McKenzie proved he has a plan by selecting players who were productive throughout college.

No. 5 draft pick, Khalil Mack was a dominate and physical player throughout his tenure at Buffalo.
Eventhough he was the best player on the field most of the time, Mack worked his way to the top of the draft after being looked over during recruitment. Forget the scheme fit and team need Mack fills. Mack is exactly the hardworking cornerstone McKenzie wants to build the culture around. Combined with last year’s top draft pick, D.J. Hayden, the Oakland Raiders should have two leaders of their defense for years to come. Added, the stop-gap veteran players on the Oakland Raiders can hopefully pass some knowledge to the young faces of the Oakland Raiders. Even if Mack struggles growing his game to the NFL, there are veteran guys there who can help ease his transition into the NFL. One thing is for sure, Mack combines nastiness and a work ethic which should make him a dominate force in the league.

On day two of the draft, the Raiders followed consensus opinion by selecting Derek Carr. The Raiders lucked out with this pick. Not only did they get the pass-rusher they coveted at the top of the draft, but a local prospect and pro-ready quarterback tumbled down the draft pick and into the Raiders’ lap. Carr is a raw prospect, but he has an NFL ready arm. His mind should be able to adapt to Pro termenology and pro-defenses, because his brother should have been helping him out with that. Carr was productive throughout his career at Fresno State, and he has the big body the Raiders envision for their quarterback. The former bulldog threw for 50tds and only 9 ints in his final season. Hence, Carr is another highly productive player who has the potential to seize the starting role and become the offensive leader.

With their third selection of the 2014 Draft, McKenzie made a smart move by trading back and obtaining another draft pick. Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, is not a household name. He should be to those who have watched SEC football the past few years. Jackson dominated the best conference in the NCAA, and should be an immediate starter. Moreover he can be a mauler for years to come, especially if they plan to build a bully on the offensive line.

Ellis on the defensive line is another big body with some good upside. He is a true nose tackle, and should assist the Raiders with their plan on having a versatile defense. Not only will he eat up blockers, but he will suprise people with his pass rush.

The next addition in Keith McGill also helped the Raiders continue their plan on adding versatile defensive backs. McGill’s skillset makes him a capable zone defender. He has the size and skill set to fit into the line-up, instantly. McGill is another blue-collar guy who worked as an auto mechanic. Hence he has the work ethic which will help the Raiders build the type of culture they want. Moreover, he is 25 and should be ready to compete and put food on his table.

In the Later rounds, the Raiders added a few more defensive backs, and a defensive end. The first of the team’s seventh round pick TJ Carrie has a good chance to be a returner, and is a local product from De La Salle. However the next two picks are some of the Raiders most intriguing players. Shelby Harris and Johnathan Dowling both had their own mistakes that lead to character concerns.

Hopefully both of those players can suck up some veteran wisdom from the rest of the time. Either of them could be key contributors at a bargain cost. Especially Dowling, he has the size and looked like a solid prospect at Florida before being dismissed by the team.

This last draft class is an indication that Reggie McKenzie has a plan. He is not easily rattled enough to reach for a pass-rusher or quarterback because of team need. Moreover, it shows that he is trying to build an entirely new culture in Oakland, which will be based hard working and highly productive players. However, it also showed he is not afraid to take a chance on a player late, as long as it entails competition on the roster. Hence, the entire draft showed the Oakland Raiders are building a highly competitive roster. They do not want to just sit back and wait for rookies to compete. Reggie Mckenzie is ready for the rookies to compete with veterans from the start.

In addition here is the podcast version: https://soundcloud.com/silverandblog/raiders-podcast-otas