Blog Archives

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.

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Defensive Backs creating a Culture

Dennis Allen is most notably connected to the New Orleans Saints Championship Team. What did he coach? Defensive Backs, and it seems like he is finally transferring that knowledge to the silver and black. That Saints team was noted for takeovers in the secondary, but the only thing the Raiders secondary has been noted for is giving up records, having a revolving door, and of course injuries.

Dj Hayden being hurt is not news, but it has still been the news of training camp. In his place, Chidekwa and T.J. Carrie have been capturing Raiders fans’ hearts. Combined with veterans Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rodgers, it seems like the Raiders defensive backs can be a building block of the future.

From top to bottom, this group has a lot to be excited about. Taiwan Jones has already carved a niche as a special teamer, and rookie Keith McGill looks to do the same. Safeties Ras-Dowling, Brandan Ross and Usama Young look to compete for playing time and a roster spot, as well.

We already know how good our starting safeties are with Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson. The knowledge and intangibles of the four veterans in the group seem to be trickling down, and should stay with the team as it continues to grow a winning culture. Evident by the level of competition from Carrie and Chidekwa, it seems that the Raiders could have a legion of boom brewing. The Seawhawks most notably developed their infamous secondary mostly from mid level draft picks.

As long as the Raiders continue to inspire a culture of competition, I expect to see the late round draft picks continuing to develop into contributors able to utilize their potential. Either way, I am glad to finally see Dennis Allen’s specialty coming to the Raiders.

Pro-Days not Everything

Blake Bortles performs at combine, and built on that performance with a great pro-day via USA Today

A lot of hype surrounds NFL pro-days. For good reason too, as NFL teams have scouted the top prospects for months, and look forward to an oppurtunity to see them perform live.

For QBs especially, Pro-days are a huge deal because many of the top prospects elect not to throw at the combine. Additionally teams want to see players perform at their best in their own controlled and simulated environment.

Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr all held their pro-days this week. Allen visited the first two’s and is scheduled to check out Manziel’s. Mckenzie has attended Derek Carr and David Fales pro-day.

With That said, the hype has been around Bridgewater and Bortles. Bortles recieved a 10 out of 10 from ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, and many other scouts have sky rocketed him up to the top of the draft boards even as far as the no. 1 pick.

Bridgewater on the other hand, was overwhelming. Mike Mayock said his pro-day was average and did not do anything to his draft stock. Other opinions in the media did add more questions to Bridgewater’s potential after the poor pro-day.

The Reality of the situation tells a different story. Bridgewater attempted throwing without his usual gloves and claimed that had to do with some of his inaccuricies. Bortles smelled blood and absolutely killed his pro-day.

Neither’s performance should really effect their draft status. The fact of the matter is you want to draft a QB because you are in love with him. Once you love a QB you can build your team around him and give him every chance to succeed. If he is your guy then one good or bad outing should not change your opinion of the guy.

Both guys have a compilation of film over the past years which indicate what they are capable of doing in pads, not a tee shirt. What did people expect from the pro-days? Of Course, Bortles is going to impress with his rocket arm, size and mobility. However you can not really answer questions about his ability to make decisions or read defenses until he goes against a live Defense, not on air.

Same thing with Bridgewater. Bridgewater has not been the consensus number one QB because he has the biggest arm. Scouts have liked his decision making and leadership skills. Combined with solid athletecism and a solid arm, many feel like he is the most pro-ready quarterback. One bad day should not change that perception because his game tape indicates otherwise. Not to mention, Bridgewater took negative opinion in stride and has illustrated the bounceback characteristic you want with a QB.

Added, Jamarcus Russell had one of the best Pro-Days ever. There will always forever be guys who look great in tee-shirts and shorts at every level of football. That should not takeaway from what a player does on gameday in a live situation

Either way, Pro-days should not change the Raiders perspective on either of these QB’s. Both have enough gametape to prove they belong in the NFL. The Raiders should not fall out of love with Bridgewater cause of a bad day nor should they love Bortles because of one great day.

The pre-draft process is exactly that, a process. The Raiders need to take the compilation of pro-days. combine performances, interviews, and game tape before gambling on a QB at the top of the draft. Regardless, the Raiders will have an oppurtunity to set up private workouts for either or both of these guys.

For more on my take about the Top Qbs Pro-days, listen to my podcast.

Tuck and Woodley’s meaning for Raiders

Woodley signs with Raiders via Raiders.com


Just around twelve hours ago, Raidernation was ready to jump ship when the Rodger Saffold deal was botched. Apparently, depending on whose side you believe, Saffold had a previous shoulder injury that caused him to fail the Raiders physical and voiding the contract.

Fast Forward a few hours, and Raider Fans were excited to hear the team signing Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley to two year contracts. Sure Woodley and Tuck are not the marquee players they once were a few seasons ago, but the signings are still significant boosts for the squad.

Veteran Leadership

Tuck and Woodley both come from two other storied franchises in the Steelers and Giants. Both hoisted the Lombardi trophy in their tenure with their former teams. Championship pedigrees are not cheap in this league and a team that has done a lot of losing needs to learn how to win, and these guys know how. As Fans we seen the Impact Woodson made when he came in purely from a leadership perspective, and these guys can do the same

Pass Rush
Between the two of these guys, The Raiders added over 100 career sacks to a struggling front four.Woodley
is a versatile rusher capable of standing up or putting his hand in the ground. Tuck is capable of rushing from the end or 3 technique. That versatility should be utilized by the Raiders. D-Coordinator Tarver should be stoked to have two new toys.

Affordability
Raiders got Tuck and Woodley for what it would have cost to franchise Lamarr Houston. Not to mention, the two year deals do not hurt the team in the long run. Around a 6 million dollar salary for these guys is a good deal considering they have more sacks then Houston.

Recruitement
These Two guys are about as respectable as you can be in the league. If they can buy into Reggie’s plan then I am sure they can get other Veteran Defensive Players to buy into what the Raiders are selling. So far free agency has proven Raiders are going to have to offer more then just playing time and money. Having Woodley’s and Tuck’s influence should help other free agents buy into the francsise.

Reggies Plan
These two moves signify Reggie’s plan of patience and not over spending. Fans lost beloved Houston and Veldheer and the Raiders needed to provide some hope for its fans. The Saffold drama can now be put behind us, and fans can buy into the big picture again. Reggie is not going to overspend or lock up players, he wants to build through the draft. Tuck and Woodley are the servicable stop-gap players for fans to be excited about, but they also could be the mentors to Raiders young players. Moreover, these are signings the Raiders can build on as they continue Free Agency and into the Draft.

Something To Prove
I mean really, When was the last time Raider Fans actually had something Legit to be excited about? Reggie McKenzie actually has something to prove to the fanbase which pays his pay check. Same could be said for Tuck and Woodley. Both were intricate pieces of their former franchises, yet were not coveted by their former teams. As they enter their 30’s(Woodley 29 Tuck 31) both players can prove they still have plenty to offer a team. Woodson dispelled the myth that 30 year old players can’t impact games, and Woodley/Tuck will look to do the same.

Sure Woodley and Tuck are not exactly the marquee names anymore. However that is no reason for Raidernation to not be excited, as they are better then anyone else currently on the roster. Sure the Raiders have a lot more to do in Free Agency and they have a huge draft coming up in May, but signing Woodley and Tuck is a step in the right direction.Singularly, neither is the kind of pass rusher to command double teams anymore, but paired offensive QBs have something to fear for the first time in a while.

] Tuck signs with Raiders [\caption]

The Raiders Need Sammy Watkins


With a team desolated of playmakers and desperate for an identity, the Raiders have an oppurtunity to select Clemson Wide Out Sammy Watkins whom could change all of that presuming he is available with the #5 draft pick.

I have been an advocate for the Raiders selecting Watkins, however, earlier I broke down the deep recieving corps in this draft class. Any number of those guys could provide value to the Raiders, which would warrant a pass on Watkins and opting for a reciever in later rounds.

Since Watkins’ pro-day a few days ago, my stance has changed. The Raiders need Watkins to provide his explosive playmaking ability which could be the identity for the team. In his pro-day Watkins proved he was the best reciever in the class once again. Some even said it was one of the best pro-day workouts ever.

NFL Network Draft Guru Mike Mayock said Watkins is one of the best recievers he has analyzed in over 10 years. That is a great compliment. He very well may end up as one of the best players in this entire draft class.

As Raider fans, we still blame the organization for passing on Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson when there was an oppurtunity to draft either in their respective drafts.

Watkins showcased his capabilities in the Orange Bowl, where he put up 16 catches, with two TDs and over 200 yards against Ohio State. At Clemson he showcased his ability to line-up inside or outside. His speed was often showcased in the open field and his agility and accelartion displayed with a diverse route tree. Not only that, but has even showed a willing ness to block combined with a swagger the Raiders are looking for.

At the Combine, Watkins told NFL teams in interviews that he loves to dominate defenses. Denarius Moore could really learn from that midset. Leading up to the combine, Watkins hyped fans up by saying he would run a record setting time. His 4.43 official team underwhelmed but his game tape indicates plenty of speed for seperation at the next level. Watkin’s swagger and confidence are something the Raiders have been void of for years.

He elected to sit on his 40 time at the pro-day. Instead, Watkins made an impression with his route running, soft hands, and accelartion just like he did on tape and at the combine.

From a purely football perspective, Watkins can impact games after the catch or going deep. He can run screens, end arounds, and has plenty of value as a returner. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen could utilize Watkins and build the team’s offense around Watkins. For the first time in a long time, The Raiders could have an offensive identity with Watkins ability to change games(The Way Mcfadden was suppossed). He can line up in the slot and free up space for Moore or Rivera. He is fast enough to stretch the field for Streater and Holmes. Watkin’s hands are reliable enough for whoever trots out at QB for the Raiders. Neither is he afraid to open up wholes for a Raider running back.

The biggest knock on Watkins is he does not do anything spectacular. listed under 6’2 he does not very impressive size, nor is his 40 time spectacular, but his ability to impact games is surely spectacular. He is not the Big Fitzgerald, Megatron, or Julio jones. However, he is not the liability that Darius Heyward-Bey was either.

Watkins had the consistence in college that DHB did not out of Maryland, and Watkins played with another NFL quality reciver (Imagine if he didn’t?). DHB was suppossed to be the number one reciever for years to come, but has shown he is only a #3 reciever on his best day. Therefore, fans and management should not be weary of selecting a reciever high in the draft even if their is enough depth in the draft. The Raiders have yet to recover from Tim Brown days of having a true number one reciver. Selecting Watkins will allow Moore and Streater to thrive in the complimentary roles they are suited for.

The Raiders can not afford to let history repeat itself. Selecting Watkins makes too much sense for the Raiders. Watkins is one of the best prospects in the entire draft, he fills a team need, has a high ceiling, has swagger, and can impact games. This draft is too important for the Raiders to miss on, and Watkins has been labeled the can not miss player in the draft.

Defensive Players like Clowney and Mack come around once in a while too. But with Watkins you are talking about a guy who can legitimately score anytime he touches the ball, anywhere on the field. That is a value you don’t pass on as their will be other defensive prospects in FA and in later rounds.

He is the impact player Reggie Mckenzie and Dennis Allen are looking for, and the identity Mark Davis is looking for. It is becoming more evident the Raiders are not going to find that guy in Free agency. All the team needs to do is make the selection at #5 and let this guy dominate on sundays.

If he can make Tahj Boyd shine in college, surely he can do the same for any of the Raiders QBs. The Raiders do not need to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft, as they will have to wait for him to develop. Watkins is pro-ready and is the Nasty, Fast, and explosive player whom could be the face of the franchise for years to come. As an organization desperate to give their city and fanbase some hope of winning, Sammy Watkins has to be the pick when the may 2nd draft roles around.

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

Dennis Allen hanging hat on undrafted rookie

A Few weeks ago, Dennis Allen’s job was pretty secure. He had this team winning and competing. Even after a few skids, Mark Davis admitted he was patient with the rebuild process, however, he also said he wanted progress. Dennis Allen himself has said that he is focused on wins and not the future. Unfortunately he hasn’t got many wins with an 8-22 record, and his future is indoubt. Fans have been asking for his job. SI’s Jim Trotter wrote that Dennis Allen getting fired is laughable. He cites all of the adversity he and McKenzie have dealt. He says that the team frankly doesn’t have the talent or the depth to compete over the long haul. Trotter said all of the bargain bin free agents signed last season are pushing their bodies farther than they ever have, as guys who were role players are now starters.

I’ll admit, Dennis Allen has done a lot with a little. He’s had veterans like Charles Woodson buy into his scheme and program. Hes made the best of all the injuries, lack of depth, and lack of talent. I think there are times where he should have made adjustments, such as the Washington, Dallas, and KC game, but you could say that with any coach. In Reality, I don’t think Dennis Allen, Reggie Mckenzie, or Mark Davis know whether Allen will be coaching this team another season.

Allen’s Future Comes Down To…

The Undrafted Rookie Quarterback Matt McGloin. Dennis Allen has hung his hat playing the undrafted QB. Even after a terrible game in Kansas City were McGloin showed he can turn the ball over just as well as Terrelle Pryor, Allen has kept McGloin the starter.

Terrelle Pryor put it into prospective last week, when he said he didn’t feel like he lost his job to McGloin. The truth is, it was never Pryor’s job to begin with. When Dennis Allen first came to Oakland, Pryor was the third string QB, but moved up the depth chart by the end of the season. This offseason, the Raiders brought in Matt Flynn, and said it was his job to lose. Pryor came in, played explosive, and took Flynn’s job. Flynn’s struggles, a bad offensiveline, and a lack of playmakers on offense made Allen play Pryor. Allen even named him the starter, and alluded to his possiblity as the future.

Pryor’s struggles, combined with injury, and a mishandling of them both, gave Allen a reason not to play Pryor. Since Pryor has said all the right things and helped Matt McGloin, but still isn’t playing. McGloin is 1-5 as a starter, and has thrown almost as many ints as TDS. He has more yards than Pryor, and the recievers play better with McGloin but thats largely due to some garbage time (IE KC Game). Offensive coordinator Greg Olsen has said the Raiders are trying to play Pryor to borrow some of his explosiveness. How is he suppossed to be explosive in 3 plays or one series? He isn’t michael Jordan. That seems to me like a play to appease ownership and fans.

But I get why Allen doesn’t want to go back to Pryor. If he plays well, then his judgement will be questioned going forward. If he plays bad then they will question why he made the shift and it will only hurt Pryor’s stock going forward. Hence, Dennis Allen has made his bed with Matt McGloin, and now its time for him to lye in it. Maybe not playing Pryor will increase the Raiders tanking in hopes of netting a new franchise quarterback. Maybe that was the plan all along, by playing McGloin the Raiders hoped to salvage another playoff-less season. Only problem with that is Allen may not be here next season to coach said rookie QB. 

The Raiders have 2 more games left. Those two games are against bitter rivals and potential playoff terams. These are Allen’s last two chances to prove he can coach at this level. I’m sure he does have the leadership qualities people talk about. I’m sure he is a bright defensive mind. However, those two things dont always equal success. Winning equals success and Allen hasn’t done enough of that. Everyone knows the circumstances he has faced, but he knew what he was signing up for. These last two games are his chance to show he can get this team playing inspired and competitve ball two more times. If he can do that, and get atleast one more win, well that will be some progress for the season. Either way, Allen’s success is gonna come down to how well Matt McGloin plays. Ifthe undrafted rookie is able to pull a win off, if the beat up defense can rally, and if the team can play inspired and disciplene ball; then Allen will retain his job. That is a lot of ifs, and allen only has two more opportunities guaranteed to answer those questions.