With the Oakland Raiders taking on the San Diego Chargers tonight, I think it good timing to release my interview with Chris Shellcroft of Just Blog Baby, an Oakland Raiders webpage. Just Blog Baby is quirky, funny, and honest and you should all swing over there and check it out.
And if you’re looking for more to read we’ve updated our scouting report page which now includes 80 plus scouting reports
1). I have to start here. Was the Carson Palmer trade worth it? That’s an awful lot to give up.
It is still far too early to put any type of a grade on the Palmer trade. Let me just say this much about the whole thing. With a healthy Darren McFadden and Palmer playing at a Pro Bowl level we’re talking about an offense with the potential to be a among the NFL elite. In that scenario there is no price too high you can place on great QB play balanced with an explosive running game. As far as the picks given up go…let’s be honest. Neither the Raiders nor Bengals have a great recent history of making the most of their first round picks. If Cincinnati uses those two picks to grab the next Dan Wilkinson or Akili Smith then they will mean nothing. For Oakland, if this team does in fact turn the corner then those two picks will mean nothing more than open roster spots for veterans. In short, time will tell on this deal. My knee jerk reaction is that they paid far too high a price but, again, you cannot put any value on a franchise caliber QB. If that is what the Raiders ultimately get then these two picks will look like pennies.
2). Will the Raiders ever trade with the Patriots again? It always seems they get fleeced
Two things you can set your watch to on draft day are the Raiders taking the fastest player from the combine and the Raiders trading with the Pats. I realize the Randy Moss deal looms large but the Pats haven’t exactly got too return on their investment in recent dealings. New England badly misses Richard Seymour and we still can’t truly determine how much they’ll get from Nate Solder, who does look good, which was the pick they got from Oakland. Another deal with the Raiders that the Pats got nothing out of was the move for Derrick Burgess. Two years ago the two teams swapped picks on draft day with New England moving up in round two to take Ron Brace who has yet to make an impact. Clearly these two teams have a business relationship. How much more dealing they’ll do in the future remains to be seen. Al Davis and Bill Belichick got along very well. With Davis gone there is no way to know if the trades winds will continue to blow from the Northeast to the East Bay.
3). They say it takes three years to evaluate a draft how’s the 2009 draft class looking?
Until his mysterious benching last week the biggest name from that class, Darrius Heyward-Bey, was showing some real promise. He came into last week’s game with more receiving yards than Roddy White, believe it or not. Still, when you take a receiver in the top 10 you’re expecting game changing plays. The jury is still out on DHB. The other name that grabbed headlines was Mike Mitchell taken in the second round. Mitchell hasn’t exactly made a huge impact but his talent is real. Injuries and defensive schemes have kept Mitchell out of an expanded role. We’re all waiting to see what kind of a player he can be with a clearly defined role and more snaps. Now the gem of the ’09 class is third round pick Matt Shaughnessy. Before his season ending injury this year Shaughnessy was well on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end. He is a great pass rusher and was really improving against the run.
The guy that has been lost in the mix is Louis Murphy. He jumped out as the class of Oakland’s draft but has never found consistency week in and week out. Plus a hamstring injury kept him out of camp and the first month of the season. Currently Murphy is buried in the depth chart and could be one his way out of Oakland.
Of the 7 players drafted in ’09, 5 are on the active roster. I’m not going to say this draft was a huge success but it has provided the Raiders with some key contributors. Still, this class will be determined by how Heyward-Bey goes. I’d have to say that we’re still looking at a grade of incomplete on this class.
4). What about the 2010 draft class, how does that look so far?
The 2010 draft has some real talent that could be a fixture in football for sometime. So far the returns are mixed but there is some real promise.
You’ve got to start at the stop with Rolando McClain. He has been good but not great. McClain has all the tools, we’re just waiting to see him make plays. Oakland needs a man in the middle who will be flying to the ball, creating havoc and disrupting the offensive rhythm of their opponents. McClain shows the occasional flash but overall he rarely stands out.
Now the man that has led the way for the 2010 class was 4th round gem Jacoby Ford. Most saw this as another Al Davis stopwatch special but Ford is more than just a track star – his is a game breaker. We expected Jacoby to be a factor on special teams but not to the historic level he’s been thus far. The real surprise is how far he’s come along as a receiver. Jacoby runs good routes, attacks the ball in the air and is dynamic in the open field. His one start with Carson Palmer showed real promise as he went over 100 yards including a sick TD grab where Ford showed better footwork than Savion Glover.
Quietly the guy that is becoming a franchise caliber player is left tackle Jared Veldheer. Dubbed the sleeper of the 2010 draft, Veldheer has solidified his spot on the O-line. His strength and technique continue to improve while his mean streak is showing more and more each week. Coming from a small DIII school the Raiders didn’t really know what to do with Veldeer as Tom Cable made him a center first. That didn’t work and neither did Mario Henderson at left tackle. Veldheer moved back to his natural position as a rookie and hasn’t looked back since.
As for second round pick Lamarr Houston…we’re waiting to see all that talent come to fruition. As a rookie it looked like Lamarr was a star in the making. He’s had his moments this year but has yet to take that next step. With Houston and Shaughnessy on the edges there is great cause for concern for all QBs in the AFC West for the next five years.
5). Taiwan Jones came on like gangbusters in training camp and preseason what’s happened to him?
Taiwan is the guy Raider Nation is dying to see more of. He just might be the fastest man on the roster which is saying something when you’re discussing the Raiders. To be fair, not too much could have been expected when you’re third on the depth chart behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Jones has real talent but he’s still adjusting to the NFL. He still doesn’t have a clue when it comes to picking up blitzes and pass protection is any runners second job after ball security. Now in the wake of McFadden’s injury issues Jones has seen limited playing time. He is a little indecisive and hesitates when he should be hitting the hole at full speed. He’ll get there as I have no doubt Hue Jackson will find a way to put his talents to use.
6). I really liked what the Raiders did in the draft this year (one of the few, I think). How are the 2nd and third round picks doing this year?
Can’t say enough about how well Stefen Wisniewski has played as a rookie. He’s likely going to take over at center but as a guard he’s been very good. More than a legacy pick, Wisniewski looks like he’ll be a fixture in Oakland for a long time. He is a physical blocker with good smarts and an athletic prowess that will become more evident once he’s a full-time center. DeMarcus Van Dyke looks like he could be a very good NFL corner. His coverage talents are far more advanced than I gave him credit for. Where he must improve is being able to find the ball once it is in the air. More often than not DVD is in good position he just doesn’t make plays on the ball. Also, Van Dyke isn’t much of a tackler. In Oakland’s man scheme you need corners who can help make stops against the run. Joe Barksdale was also picked in the third round. He looked very good in the preseason as Oakland used him at both guard and right tackle. Currently he’s playing more as a guard when he gets on the field and you can see there is some talent there. Injuries will likely give Barksdale the opportunity start in the near future so we’ll soon get an extended look at him.
7). Are there any UDFA or late round picks who look like main-stays on the Raiders roster?
5th round pick Denarius Moore looks like he’ll be collecting an NFL check for years to come. After the first week of camp media members were calling him the steal of the 2011 draft. He’s made some plays but is still looking to find a consistent role as a rookie. Both David Ausberry (7th round) and Richard Gordon (6th round) could also be in Oakland for some time. Ausberry was converted to tight end and has an athletic skill set that could make him a real weapon. Gordon is a beast of a blocker and will be a nice balance to Ausberry. If you could combine those two you’d have one sick tight end.
The UDFA that is finally getting his chance to shine is Desmond Bryant. Two years ago the Raiders invited a D-lineman from Harvard to camp thinking he might make the practice squad. Well, here is Bryant in his third year starting at end in place of injured Matt Shaughnessy. Bryant has a nastiness about him that all good pro defenders need. He’s also got that prototypical motor you need to grind it out on every snap. No matter what I think this guy will have an NFL job for years.
8). How do you think draft day will go now that Al Davis is not going to be around?
That is a real mystery. As we all know, Mr. Davis had his hands in everything and loved to find new talent. No matter what people may think, Davis still had the touch. Not all of his gambles paid off but who would have thought a safety from Cal could become a shutdown corner? That is what Davis saw in Nnamdi Asomugha and that is exactly what he’s become. Now the real test of a scouting department is how much talent they’re digging up in the later rounds. Many speculate that Davis took on the early rounds and the personnel guys handled the later rounds. If that is true then the Raiders should still be in good shape as evidenced by the likes of Tyvon Branch, Michael Bush, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Chaz Schilens and Louis Muprhy all of whom were drafted in the 4th round and later.
9). Tells us about Just Blog Baby. Why should our readers come get their Raiders news and opinions from you guys?
At JBB we pride ourselves in giving you honest opinion. No need to create drama when there is none and no need to follow trends either. JBB is a blog meant for Raider Nation. We love our Raiders, take what we do seriously but have fun doing so. Our greatest asset are the fans. Our job is just to help extend the reach the fans have to get their opinions out there. I encourage anyone who love NFL football to drop in once and awhile. Now don’t expect much football talk unless it relates to the Raiders. One thing we stick to is talking Raiders 24/7. That being said, when it comes time for the draft we open the forum to all of football. But our mission is always to give Raider Nation a forum to discuss the Raiders whom we follow 365 days a year.
10). Do you follow College Football a lot? If so, who are some players you love/hate?
I’m a big college football fan. I’ll be honest that I have a heavy West Coast bias. While I watch and follow all of the NCAA my focus is usually on the schools west of the Mississippi. Right about now the guys I enjoy watching are Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State, Nick Foles at Arizona, Andrew Luck (naturally), USC’s sick trio of Matt Barkey, Robert Woods and Marquise Lee and Oregon’s stable of runners. However the guy that I can’t get enough of is Trent Richardson. I love watching running backs do their thing and Richardson is a talent the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time in college football. I can’t honestly say there is anybody out there I hate but that all changes when guys like Antoine Cason and Rahim Moore put on Charger and Bronco jerseys. Then all the love is lost.
11) Anything else to add?
Got to give you and your staff major props. NFL Mocks is among the best resources on the net. All of the great content you’re consistently cranking out is impressive. Much respect and hope we can work together more in the future.