Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 9, 2007
Drafting the possibilities

Question: Are LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell and Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson high on the Raiders' NFL Draft board? Can they draft both guys, especially now that Randy Moss will surely be traded this off-season?

What about Eric Steinbach and/or Leonard Davis? Would the Raiders be interested in acquiring them?

-- Alex Martinez, Manila, Phillipines

Answer: Russell and Johnson would both fill needs and are on the board because they are Top-5 picks.

It would be hard to draft both players for a few reasons. First being money. It would cost a lot to sign to high draft picks, especially when the Raiders have so much money tied into the offense.

It would also mean making a trade with a team for a high pick while still keeping the first pick in the draft. The Raiders don't have a player so valuable that Detroit, Tampa Bay, Cleveland or Arizona would give up for their first round choice. That would include Moss, who might not be traded. He is coming off his worst season as a pro and his questionable focus, work ethic and high salary aren't likely to draw a high pick in exchange for him.

Steinbach from Cincinnati and Davis from Arizona are bound to be two of the more highly sought after free agent offensive linemen. Davis is a player that never became the dominant left tackle most expected, considering he was the second overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Signing Davis would be a surprise since the Raiders already have an underachieving second overall pick at left tackle in Robert Gallery. Davis could come in as a right tackle if Langston Walker leaves via free agency or Gallery could move back to right tackle for Davis. Then again, Davis wouldn't come cheap.

Steinbach would be an instant upgrade at guard, but he will be the top guard in free agency and have his pick of teams. He will command a big salary and should have several suitors.

As far as interest, I think Steinbach would be a bigger priority. The Raiders finished last season with two rookies starting at guard. Steinbach is also a former college teammate of Gallery. Steinbach could aid Gallery's development.

The Raiders interest in Steinbach or Davis all depends on their desire to spend money in free agency.

-- Jason Jones

February 9, 2007
Can Raiders pick up Newberry?

Question: I just read that Jermey Newberry is thinking of joining the Raiders. What's your thoughts on this and the possibilities of him making the team?
-- Harold Jennings III, Antioch

Answer: It's not uncommon for players who know they could change teams to look around the NFL and see where they might fit. Probably every available offensive lineman looking for playing time figures they could start for the Raiders, considering they gave up an NFL-worst 72 sacks.

A couple of things work against Newberry's interest in the Raiders. First, he plays center, where the raiders have Jake Grove, a second round pick in 2004. The team isn't likely to move such a high pick after only three seasons or give Grove the impression they are looking to replace him with a veteran. Also, Newberry has battled injuries recently and the Raiders have shied away from those are the kind of players lately. That's why the team didn't make a bigger push for quarterback Daunte Culpepper last year.

Newberry would provide a veteran influence and could probably add depth. And it wouldn't hurt new offensive line coach Tom Cable to have a player familiar with his coaching technique. If he were to be signed by the Raiders, Newberry would start off as a backup.
-- Jason Jones

February 2, 2007
Should Raiders go for TO?

Question: Now that the Raiders have hired former Atlanta offensive coordinator Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator what are the chances that the Raiders will trade for Michael Vick or even Terrell Owens? Also, if Jeff Garcia is available in free agency will they pick him up since he's already familiar with the offense?

- Sharon Martin, San Diego

Answer: Knapp is the offensive coordinator, but head coach Lane Kiffin plans to call plays. While there might be elements of the West Coast offense under Kiffin, it probably won't be the system Knapp has run.

As for Vick, having Knapp wouldn't make him a fit in Oakland. Not only is Atlanta not willing to trade Vick, but also it's not as if Knapp and Vick set the NFL on fire over the last three years. One of the biggest criticisms of Knapp in Atlanta was he did not help Vick develop as a passer. Vick also wasn't a fan of the offense at times.

The same goes for Garcia. Though he would know Knapp's offense, there is no guarantee the Raiders would be running the West Coast offense.

Terrell Owens? Don't hold your breath waiting on him being a Raider. The Raiders would need to unload Randy Moss and Jerry Porter because Owens wouldn't come cheap. Plus, if Owens goal is to win the Super Bowl, why would he want to be a Raider?

- Jason Jones

February 2, 2007
Draft strategies

Question: I hear you with the quarterback thoughts, but with so many holes to fill and such a bad track record with early picks (those they got and those they didn't), don't you think they would trade the first pick and maybe pick up an offensive lineman and a quarterback late first round or early in the second round?

- Sean, Sacramento

Answer: Trading the first pick would be ideal for the Raiders to help fill holes on offense. But there has to be a team willing to offer a package worth trading for. A lot of the scenarios depend on how new coach Lane Kiffin feels about Andrew Walter. If Kiffin sees Walter as an NFL starter, a trade would work easier because the Raiders cold trade down further and land a player like Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Drafting Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas, the consensus top offensive lineman, would force the Raiders to move Thomas to the right side or move Robert Gallery back to right tackle. But that would also be a lot of money tied up in two young offensive linemen.

But if the Raiders want a quarterback, the top two players in the draft are JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. Neither is likely to be on the board after the third or fourth pick. If it looks like trading too far down would cost the Raiders the chance to land a quarterback, staying at No. 1 would make sense.

- Jason Jones

About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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