Monthly Archives: May 2016

Social Media from OTA

The Oakland Raiders showed up for organized team activities.

Many key players spent the time rehabbing injuries. Mark Davis spent the first day at Spring Meetings addressing Las vegas concerns. Free Agents talked about their leadership roles.

Ultimately, the team hit the field in shells for 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills.

Rather than bore you with more words on these meaningless practices, I put together some dope tweets from the week.

https://storify.com/SilverandBlog/raiders-ota-tweets.html

 

2016 Minicamp Quick Updates

The Oakland Raiders wrapped up minicamp this past weekend. Here is what you need to know from the three-day event. 17 undrafted free agents and 20 try-out players participated in the event, as well as some of the Raiders drafted rookies.

Jihad Ward

All reports indicate that Ward is as good as advertised. He was flying around camp, playing fast and being an imposing force.

More importantly, the second round pick remained healthy. Some teams questioned if Ward would need another knee surgery, but the Raiders gave him a clean bill of health.

Max McCaffery

McCaffery was already one of the Raiders biggest UDFA names because of his last name.

The Duke product still needs polishing in the weight room, but his ability to catch the ball was on full display throughout camp.

Connor Cook

All signs say that the Raiders got a steal in Connor Cook. Multiple sources say Cook was impressive in camp.

Of course, it is still shirts and shorts season. It will be interesting if Cook can carry his performance into padded practices.  Could he beat out Matt McGloin for second string duties? Either way, Cook is a great backup option.

Jaydon Mickens

The Washington product is another receiver that shined in camp. Mickens is undersized but he could bring value as a returner. He also comes from years of production at Washington. However, he did not make the roster so far.

Shilique Calhoun

The versatile Michigan state linemen should lineup with his hand in the ground and standing up. That is much of what he did in minicamp. He should fill in until Aldon Smith comes in.

James Cowser

Cowser is a little older for a rookie at 25-years-old. However, he made an impression with his passion, leadership and noticeable hair.

Darius Latham

Latham is a big body, but he also moves well. He could be the next undrafted linemen to dominate for the Raiders… cough.. Denico Autry.

Again, none of this really matters until real training camp begins next month. Still, it is good to see the Raiders adding some practice, depth and talent.

Hopefully, Karl Joseph can get back after training camp. The first round pick should steal all the spotlight.

*All information via Raiders.com.

 

 

 

 

Reviewing the Oakland Raiders NFL Draft

 

The Oakland Raiders entered the draft with most of their starters set, but glaring needs for depth across the roster. How did they do with their picks? Why did they make the selections that they did?

Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie shared insights onto their picks. As a bonus, I’ve also recapped my thoughts on the picks since the dust settled on the NFL Draft.

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (No. 14 overall)
McKenzie: “You can feel his toughness. He has a very aggressive mentality. He’s versatile. He can play all over the field, and he’ll run and hit anything that moves.”

Del Rio: “We just think he’s a really good football player, and he’ll have an infectious kind of personality and demeanor about himself. So, [we’re] really excited to get our hands on him and looking forward to working with him.”

My take: Initially felt like the Raiders reached on a 5’11 strong safety coming off of a knee injury. However, the Falcons took Keanu Neal at No. 17, so the safety position was in demand. Heard nothing but good things about Jospeh’s mental processing and competitive toughness. His selection fills the biggest gap on the roster. Excited to see what he can do. 

DL Jihad Ward, Illinois (No. 44 overall)
Del Rio: “ He has played all the way out as a nine technique all the way down to into a three technique. He has been exposed to a lot of football. And, defensive line is not as complex as playing quarterback. We think we can help him grow as a player and we like what we are starting with.”

My take: Again, felt like the Raiders reached for Ward. I liked some of the other defensive tackles like Andrew Billings and Jonathan Bullard on the board at this point. However, Ward is extremely versatile. Not only did he play across the d-line at Illinois, but he played safety and receiver at the lower levels. Ward brings top-level athleticism which will push Mario Edwards Jr. and the rest of the defensive unit. Glad they took someone to improve the depth in the pass rush. 

Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State (No. 75 overall)
Del Rio: “He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush the quarterback. He’s been an All-American and he’s been a very productive guy at a good college program. ”

My take: Calhoun was a great value at this point in the draft. Even though the Raiders took Ward, they should use Calhoun as a hybrid linebacker. He should learn a lot behind Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith. I hope he can improve coverage skills as he may need to play some Sam linebacker. Either way, I like players like Calhoun who showed lots of leadership and production for winning programs in college. 

QB Connor Cook, Michigan State (No. 100 overall)
McKenzie: “ “Derek (Carr)’s our quarterback. Whoever we bring in, we’re just looking [at] can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help our team? That was the only reason we went after him. Leadership issues, that was of no concern.”

My take: Again, this was a case of selecting the best player available. The Raiders traded up and got a player that could develop into some nice trade bait. Regardless, the Raiders only have Matt McGloin under contract for this season. Hence, there was a need to develop a backup quarterback. Cook brings production and a solid NFL arm to the Raiders scout team.

RB DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech (No. 143 overall)
McKenzie: “He’s the one guy that every time we watched him play, it was very difficult for the first guy to get him down. He had power, quickness and he had speed. He was the kind of the guy that can do it all. ”

My take: I liked some other running backs in this draft like Paul Perkins. However, everyone talks about Washington’s versatility. Remember the Raiders got Latavius Murray late in the draft. Maybe they struck gold again in Washington. He will push Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu for playing time early.

LB Cory James, Colorado State (No. 194 overall)
McKenzie: “He has played a lot of positions. We’ll see. For the beginning, we’ll let him play off the ball and see if he can play weakside linebacker, teach him both inside linebacker spots, and nickel. But he’s definitely going to have to try to make his money on special teams.”

My take: At this point in the draft, teams look for special teams guys who might develop into something more. James fills that role. Seems like a quality athlete with a decent motor. I trust Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. when it comes to linebackers. The Raiders did well with Neiron Ball and Ben Heeney, last year. 

OL Vadal Alexander, Louisiana State (No. 234 overall)
McKenzie: “(I was surprised he slipped in the draft), because big guys, they usually get taken. We felt really good about that and we like big people. He’s going to work both (guard and tackle). The versatility is what we liked about him.”

My take: The Raiders got lucky at this point. They found a big body and versatile player in the final round. He also fills the depth need on the offensive line with experience at guard and tackle. Plus, all that I’ve read says that he should have gotten drafted way earlier than this. 

*All quotes via Scott Bair.

Don’t sleep on DJ Hayden, just yet

DJ Hayden joined many of his 2013 NFL Draft Class peers as potential 2016 free agents because the Oakland Raiders decided not to pick up his fifth-year option. There were many others in his class that suffered the same outcome.

Some Raiders fans already expressed relief that the team will eventually move on from the Draft bust. However, do not sleep on Hayden just yet.

It is no secret that Hayden continues underwhelming. The Raiders added Sean Smith, and incumbent corner Donald Amerson made a case to be the comeback player of the year last season.

TJ Carrie and Neiko Thorpe also showed flashes. That means Hayden could become the fifth corner on the roster. Hayden got a taste of this fate when he was benched late last season.

Nonetheless, Hayden is not done just yet.

Remember, Carrie and Thorpe were late round picks. That is because they do not have the same god-given tools as Hayden who was selected No. 12 in 2013.

Of course, Thorpe and Carrie bring big bodies which are fits for the scheme. However, Hayden could develop into a prototypical slot corner with his side and speed.

Also do not forget that Amerson ranked as one of the worst corners in 2014. He turned it around in 2014, so Hayden could do the same.

Hayden already battled back from near-death, when a freak accident injured his chest in college. Considering he already battled back, do not take his toughness for granted.

Moreover, missing most of his first two seasons with injuries mean Hayden needs reps. Yes, he got those reps as the starter last year, but who knows what will happen with another season.

Granted, Hayden may come out as the same penalized cornerback with zero ball skills. That is the tape he put together thus far in the pros. I am not defending him.

All I am saying is do not count Hayden out just yet. Let him battle through offseason and camp before we cast him away with a big fat bust label.