Monthly Archives: March 2015

Revisiting Raiders’ Key Free Agent Signings and Draft Implications

Rodney Hudson

The Raiders had to spend on someone. Hudson was the Raiders only marquee signing and got almost 9 million a year. The center is one of PFF top rated centers and is just entering his prime. He should be the middle anchor of the offensive line and Derek Carr’s key protector.

Draft Implications: Center was not the biggest positional need for the Raiders. Even if Hudson is a clear upgrade over the regressing Wisniewski, the Raiders still need help in the interior offensive line. They gave versatile Khalif Barnes and extension but giving him competition at right guard should be a draft priority.

Dan Williams

No his name is not Suh or Pot Roast. We have heard all about how Dan Williams being among leaders for QB hurries and being a better run defender than Knighton. Well he isn’t the big name, Williams is the big presence to anchor the defense. Expect him to move all over the defensive line as the Raiders try to get their best four guys on the field between Justin Tuck, Williams, Antonio Smith, Justin Ellis, and whoever plays left end.

Draft Implications: Free Agency proves Jack Del Rio wants to build both sides of the ball inside out. Williams addition sures up the tackle position but their is still a need for someone who can legitimately rush the quarterback from a three point stance. Well tackle is not the need, do not be surprised if the Raiders take the best player available if Leonard Williams is there at No. 4. JDR wants a stout middle and L. Williams could easily be best prospect in entire draft.  

Nate Allen

Allen had a down year last season for the Eagles. Still, he is an upgrade over Usama Young and Brandin Ross. Considering both the draft and free agency safety classes were thin, it should be no surprised Allen cashed out. The good news is, Allen is versatile enough to play either safety position so he should be savy enough to mesh with Charles Woodson. As long as he doesn’t have the same injury history as Tyvon Branch it will be an Upgrade.

Draft Implications: Safety class is so weak in this draft. Still the Raiders need an eventual replacement for Woodson. Added, Allen is not elite so competition will not hurt him. Raiders should still consider the best safety available in the final days of the draft. Otherwise Keith McGill could be a candidate for a move to safety?

Curtis Lofton

Lofton was Cut after just one season with the Saints. Regardless, he is on the right side of thirty and has consistently racked up tackles each season. Lofton sures up the middle of the defense for the Raiders as long as he can stay health.

Draft Implications: It is a shame the Raiders put such a priority into middle linebacker because this class is deep. However, McKenzie, Del Rio, and Norton are former linebackers so I am sure they will take a chance on someone in the late rounds. They will probably be a special teamer, but RM will take one if they are best player available. Eitherway, the position went from weakness to strength.

Malcom Smith

Smith’s addition was probably the most intriguing of all the signings. Is the former Super Bowl Player a Sam, Will, or Mike? Or is he just a back up relegated to special teams? Whatever the case he is great insurance should Sio Moore suffer anymore injury and could be used in four linebacker sets with Moore, Mack and Lofton. Reuniting with Ken Norton Jr. should be good for him.

Draft implications: See Lofton

Trent Richardson

Raiders made the most headlines signing the former No. 3 overall pick. At 24 years old, Richardson is certainly worth the squeeze. He should compete with Latavius Murray for touches. If Richardson can even reach half of his potential the Raiders could look like genius. At worst he is a camp body.

Draft Implications: This running back class is also very deep. Raiders could have got a great value pick in the middle rounds. With Richardson, Murray, Reece, and Helu the Raiders may have already filled all of their running back roles and will probably not draft a runner.

Lee Smith

Do the Raiders really need another blocking tight end? I would have loved to see Jermaine Gresham added as he is a young steady blocker and pass catcher. However, back concerns probably deterred the Raiders. Either way the addition of Lee over better pass catching tight ends prove the Raiders are happy with Mychael Rivera’s production.

Draft Implications: Again, I think this proves the Raiders feel like they have a quality starter in Rivera. With Lee there, the tight end role should be filled and the Raiders probably won’t draft tight end.

Ron Helu

The running back brings value as a third down back and H back. With the team already struggling to get Reece involved, I don’t see Helu being a huge contributor.

Draft Implications: See Richardson.

NFL Free Agency: Dark Horses

Neither too high of odds to be a long shot nor small enough to be the logical candidates, these players have the potential to land in Silver and Black. They might not be the Raiders first options, but they still have a chance of playing in Oakland. Depending on how the market pans out, why not bet on these guys signing with the Raiders?

1. Torrey Smith – Receiver

If the Raiders miss on Maclin and Cobb, Smith would be the next best target. Even if he fits the Raiders’ old philosophy of chucking the ball deep, Smith has proven he can be a number one receiver. Raiders should feel comfortable giving him big bucks if he is available.

2. Brandon Graham- Edge

Raiders could do worse than an under 30 pass rusher. He’s never had more than six sacks in a season but he has some versatility. Raiders won’t pay him big money but if they miss on other edges, Graham could be a last option.

3. Mike Lupati- Guard

Lupati is big and knows how to open running lanes. Having played his whole career on the otherside of the bay makes it a convenient move for Lupati. The Raiders’ need offensive line help, and Lupati is still 27. Oakland may still look for help at interior linemen in the draft, but having Lupati means they won’t have to draft a guard.

4. Antonio Cromartie- Cornerback

The past few times Cromartie has hit the open market the Raiders have been interested. Eventhough he is not the same athlete as he was early in his career, he knows how to be a starting cornerback. Cromartie probably goes to the Jets but the Raiders should try to get the veteran in Oakland. The Raiders need players who can create takeaways.

5. Rahim Moore- Safety

Moore led the Broncos in interceptions when Del Rio was the coordinator in Denver. Still don’t think Moore is the answer for the Raiders as they need someone more capable of playing in the box.

Raiders Free Agency: Under The Radar

Even if every top player wanted to sign with the Raiders, the team would not have enough money or playing time to offer them. Hence, here are some players who could make a big impact with the team even if they are not commanding the same attention as other positional players in the market.

1. Antrel Rolle- Safety

Rolle is no longer young or explosive enough to be a marquee signing. Still he knows how to lead and play football. He is looking for one last pay day and maybe the connection to Just Tuck helps get the deal done.

2. Trent Cole- Defensive end

Cole is no longer the dominating pass rusher he once was. However, Cole could be a great situational player for the Raiders to add. They went down that path with Woodley and Tuck last year, so signing Cole would not be a surprise. Especially if they miss on some of the other top pass rushers available.

3. Ray Maualuga- Middle Linebacker

With ties to Ken Norton Jr. at USC, I am surprised this has not been rumored already. As an old school, run-stuffing linebacker, Maualuga will not be high in demand. That said, the Raiders need a Mike linebacker and signing one under 30 could really help the future of the Raiders’ defense.

4. Kareem Jackson- Cornerback

The Raiders are in the need for a number one quarterback. Jackson is probably not that like Darrelle Revis, Williams, or even Cromartie. But he could still contribute a ton for the Raiders. He is more scheme versatile and cheaper than Byron Maxwell. Plus Jackson is only 27.

5. Nick Fairley- Defensive Tackle

No one is sure what Fairley is. Is he the overweight guy with off the field issues? Or is he the player capable of dominating games that he has occasionally flashed? Either way, Fairley would normally be the best defensive linemen in a class that didn’t have Knighton or Suh. Hence, Fairley will fly under the radar and that could work out for the Raiders if they miss on Knighton and Suh.

In closing, all of theses players would be more than consolation players for the Raiders. Each has a lot to contribute still and would be position upgrades. If the Raiders are not considering them, they should.

Raiders Free Agency: Long Shots

 

What is the difference between a long shot and a dream? Simple, dreams can come true although unlikely. Versus a long shot is a foregone conclusion that it won’t happen but if it does than that is cool. Here are some long shot free agency signings for the Raiders.

1. Brian Orakpo- Edge Rusher

Orakpo has missed more games than he has played the past two seasons. He is still a great pass rusher and that might be enough for the Raiders to take a chance. Unless the Raiders give him a fat one year contract, I expect him to get over valued by another team or take a big one year deal to stay in Washington

2. Orlando Franklin- Guard

Franklin transitioned from tackle to guard last season for the Broncos. It was a successful transition, but he still won’t be worth the contract he will get. The Raiders learned from last year’s Austin Howard experience about paying a guard tackle money, so they will probably let him sign else where.

3. Byron Maxwell- Corner back

Really good No. 2 corner backs have a way of cashing out to be number two corner backs but they usually flame out. Maxwell will probably do the same. Hopefully the Raiders are smart enough to not offer the big money other teams will as he is a product of a great Seattle defense.

4. Malcolm Smith-  Linebacker

Having Smith’s former position coach as our defensive coordinator easily links the Raiders to Smith. But if Ken Norton Jr. was so high on the young former Superbowl MVP wouldn’t he have not made him a reserve? Either way, I think Smith coming to the Raiders is a long shot because is he a inside backer, outside backer, starter, or reserve?

5. Michael Crabtree – Wide Receiver

Drafting the guy we passed on for Darius Heyward-Bey? Long Shot, even if he played his whole career on the other side of the bay.

While anything could happen in free agency, these players signing with the Raiders would be a surprise

 

Raiders Free Agency: Logical Targets

When someone gets a large sum of money, we want to go to the most expensive place and see what it would be like to spend for luxury, especially if we have never had anything high quality. The smart people learn not to spend all of our money in one place. Here are the free agents who are not only more realistic signings for Raiders, but they also have a much cheaper price tag.

1. Terrance Knighton- Nose Tackle

Del Rio was a big reason Knighton wound up in Jacksonville. He should be a big reason why he ends up in Oakland. This is probably one of the most logical free agency rumors period. Especially once Suh comes off of the board, as Knighton does not have the same pass rushing ability to command nearly the same salary as Suh.

2. Tramon Williams- Corner Back

At 32 years old, Williams should not expect to break the bank. Especially as we remember him getting blown by in the NFC Championship game. Still, Williams has been a number one corner in the league, something no one else free at the position has done. Plus, Links to McKenzie and Woodson from Green Bay days make this logical.

3. Jeremy Maclin- Wide Receiver

Well the rest of the NFL drools over the explosive Cobb, the Raiders would be wise to swoop up Maclin. Maclin is only a few years older and suffered an injury in 2013 that cost him his season (as did Cobb). That should make him affordable. Not to mention, Maclin is familiar with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as they both spent last season in Philidelphia.

4. Jerry Hughes- Defensive End

Hughes is one of the few free agents who hasn’t been linked to the Raiders. I’m not sure why as he is on the right side of thirty and had back to back double digit sacks. His experience as a stand-up linebacker and defensive end makes him a logical pass rusher for the Raiders. No reason he can not be the DeMarcus Ware/ Shaun Phillips to Khalil Mack’s Von Miller. Plus, Hughes has far less baggage than Hardy.

5. Jermaine Gresham- Tight End

Gresham has not been rumored to the Raiders either. The two-time pro bowler has ability as a pass catcher and blocker. As Thomas catches out, Gresham should be an under the radar and more realistic option for Oakland across the middle.

Raiders Free Agency: Window Shopping

Any talk about Free Agency has pretty much been irrelevant until yesterday’s franchise tag deadline. Now that teams have established exactly who will be able to hit the open market, it is time to sort out all of the Raiders rumors. With the Raiders having up to 70 million in cap space (depending on your source), Raider nation has all the right to dream about their favorite free agents being in Silver and Black. In a perfect world, these are the ways Raiders fill position needs.

via google images

1. Ndamukong Suh- Defensive Tackle

Isn’t it obvious? Suh is not only the best defensive tackle on the market but he might be the best talent to hit the free market in a while. Suh has already said his agent and dollar signs will determine where he plays the rest of his career.

Therefore, the Raiders come in to play because they have the funds and the renegade persona that match Suh’s needs. Still, I think this is more dream than reality because will Reggie McKenzie ever pay any player more than 20 million? I know the Raiders are desperate for impact players but would they really have Suh opposed to two marquee free agents with all the wholes they have? Moreover, the more mainstream media connects  Suh with the Raiders the less likely I think it occurs( Cough DJAX, Harbaugh). Even though I have lobbied for Suh for over a year, I think he probably cashes out elsewhere.

2. Randall Cobb- Receiver

Dez Bryant or Demarius Thomas would have been here had they not been franchised tag. That makes the 25 year old Cobb the prime meat of this free agent receiving class. Cobb not only has dynamic receiving ability but he can also bring value in the return game. His connection with Reggie McKenzie dating back to Green Bay make this an easy prediction for most.

Out of all the dreams listed here, Cobb is probably the most likely to be in Silver and Black. However, with rumors circulating that he might command 12 million, I think this is more fantasy. The Raiders are in a power position at No. 4 in the draft where receiver might not be as pressing of a need as people think. Also noted, there are less expensive starters on the open market. Hence, Cobb will have money thrown at him, but I think the Raiders ultimately dip out of this bidding war.

3. Greg Hardy- Defensive End

Jason Pierre-Paul would have been here, but he too became victim of the franchise tag. Hence, Hardy becomes the best edge player available as he was a dominate player two seasons ago

Unlike others on this list, I do not think signing Hardy is a dream because of the price. Rather, Hardy will be a dream to Raider Nation because nothing McKenzie has done in his past shows he will risk so much financial resources on players with as many off the field problems as Hardy. Someone will gamble on Hardy’s off the field problems but it will not be the Raiders.

4. Rodney Hudson- Center

Hudson has been linked to the Raiders as they have elected to like Stephen Wisenewski hit the open market. Hudson had a top rating by Pro Football focus makes him clearly the best target.

Still, letting Wisnewski walk is not a sign the Raiders thought they could upgrade at the position. Instead, I think it signals the Raiders will not break the bank on a center. Interior linemen can usually be found in the middle of the draft and that is the more realistic outlet for McKenzie to fill the whole at center.

5. Julius Thomas – Tight End

Thomas has had two dominate seasons making him the best tight end available. Him being a bay area native and familiarity with Jack Del Rio make this another easy link.

Still, considering the Raiders have young Rivera, they will not commit so much money to a tight end. With Thomas rumored to get 7-9 million, the Raiders will pass, especially on a tight end who can’t block. As i said before, they have Rivera to be a mediocre blocker already, so he will probably go to Jacksonville.

Overall, Raider fans have every reason to be excited for free agency. They should enjoy dreaming about the above players for the next week, because the reality is the Raiders might end up pursuing other less expensive options than the more quality players listed above.

How the combine effected the Raiders’ board

The Combine makes prospects stock rise and fall every year. Here are some performances that should impact the Raiders’ big board.

Pass Rushers

Always at a premium, the combine helped differentiate some of the nation’s top pass rushers.

Dante Fowler from Florida stole the show displaying fluidity and charisma in drills and with the media. He has the long arms to be a true 4-3 end, which are hard to come bye as stand up rushers are more utilized now a days. He may be worth reaching for but could also be a target the Raiders move down for.

Randy Gregory from Nebraska didn’t do bad but he didn’t do great either. He was underweight and proved he is more stand up end than hand in his ground. Raiders should eliminate him from consideration at four.

Vic Beasley made headlines displaying an explosive 41′ vert combined with 35 reps on the bench press. Combined with displaying great tape at Clemson, Beasley should earn top ten consideration. He also showed up bigger than expected.

Odighizuwa Owamaghe also had a great outing at the combine. He looks like a pure hand down defensive end, and he should be the Raiders pick if available at the top of the second

Preston Smith also did well showing a 2.71 fourty yard dash. He too could get consideration at top of the second round, If he lasts until the third, he could be the highly productive collegian steal McKenzie finds in the draft.

Wide receivers

The big three reminded everyone why they are some of the best players in the draft period. DaVante Parker got lost in the shuffle behind Kevin White and Amari Cooper. Still Parker’s sub 4.5 fourty dispels any myths about his speed. Hence, Parker could be a viable option if the Raiders move down.

White shocked the world running a 4.35. His frame combined with mentioned speed make him receiver with the most potential. Enough that many have the Raiders selecting him.

Cooper did not bomb the combine. He showcased the numbers people expected. It would have been fine if White and Parker didn’t do so well. I still prefer Cooper’s resume of production over the other guys, but it is definitely a matter of taste when separating the three.

Inside linebackers

Denzel Perryman and Tavrion Dawson both bombed the fourty yard dash. Good news is they are still the type of players with instincts and production that will translate. Better news is, either could be available in third our fourth rounds as Raiders have a glaring need at inside linebacker.

Meanwhile, Stephone Anthony increased his draft stock massively running a 4.5. He may be the type of athlete at inside linebacker that the Raiders reach for at the top of the second. Added, Kendricks out of UCLA did not hurt his stock, he may still be top Mike prospect.

Running Backs

None of the running backs cemented themselves as the top guy. Most performed as expected, hence it will be a matter of preference based.

Even with cap space to throw at a free agent back and an incumbent Latavius Murray, I still expect them to make a move in the draft.

Depending on how the draft shapes up, I’d love to see Jay Ayayi, TJ Yelton, Duke Johnson or Ameer Abdullah wearing silver and black.

All of the information above is from NFL.com

20150301-172848.jpg