Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

April 30, 2007
Whew - the draft is (finally) over

The NFL Draft is over. I spent more than 23 hours at Raiders headquarters this weekend and learned the television networks sure know how to drag out an already long process.

TV analysts and Web sites are grading the draft with Raiders getting anywhere from an 'A' to a 'C+' in the few I looked at. Of course, these grades are usually off because many national analysts don't have the perspective to understand what picks mean to a team other than a chart assessing needs in the generic sense.

I gave the Raiders an 'A' both days. Here's to hoping they don't make me look silly (weren't the likes of Teyo Johnson and Robert Gallery supposed to be a great pick?) Now for your questions about the draft, Randy Moss and anything else Raiders-related.

- Jason Jones

April 30, 2007
A look at all those receivers

Question: The Raiders took another wide receiver, Johnnie Lee Higgins. Is he going to be special teams player and kick returner? Could you summarize the Raiders receivers and how you think they will be used? Mike Williams looks to be a project.

- Dave Simmen, Portland, Ore.

Answer: Higgins, the Raiders second third-round choice, will be expected to help a return game that hasn't produced a kick or punt return for a touchdown since Dec. 28, 2003.

As for the rest of the group, Jerry Porter finally gets his chance to be the No. 1 option. Curry will be a reliable second or third option. Mike Williams is a project, but if Kiffin can get him going he will be a steal.

Other returners from last season are Alvis Whitted, Will Buchanon, Doug Gabriel, Carlos Francis and Johnnie Morant. The Raiders also drafted Johnathan Holland in the seventh round yesterday.

Of this group, Gabriel and Whitted have the most experience, but could be gone by the end of training camp if the Raiders opt to go with youth (which is also cheaper). Francis is fast, but has his contributions have been limited because of injuries his first three seasons.

Buchanon has the advantage of having played for Kiffin at USC. Gabriel was traded before last season when he was a starter for the Raiders to New England. The Patriots cut him and the Raiders brought him back. Morant has physical talents similar to Williams, but played sparingly his first two seasons before seeing more actions toward the end of last season because of injures.

Those are the Raiders receivers now that Randy Moss is gone.

- Jason Jones

April 30, 2007
JaMarcus Russell will fit in fine

Question: Since Lane Kiffin and newly hired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp lean sharply to a West Coast style offense, do you think JaMarcus Russell would be the best quarterback fit for that system? Seems to me JaMarcus would be more suited for a vertical passing offensive scheme.

- Steven Dooley, Bloomington, Ill.

Answer: I don't see Russell's adjustment to a West Coast offense as a problem because besides having a strong arm, he is also an accurate thrower.

John Elway and Steve Young weren't typical West Coast quarterbacks, either. Both had good size, could run and had strong arms that fit in the vertical passing game. Both won Super Bowls.

I'm not putting Russell in the Hall of Fame. I just think he'll be fine in the offense while adding the dimension he can throw the ball deep with ease.

- Jason Jones

April 30, 2007
That offensive offensive line

Question: The Raiders did absolutely nothing to improve the offensive line. No help in the draft. Barry Sims, Jake Grove, Robert Gallery = starting lineup. These three guys got their tails handed to them last year, and please don't say it was the system that allowed them to be taken to the ground or have numerous false starts to kill drives. How many times was Grove pushed into the quarterback? Gallery waving at the defensive end as he goes around him. Sims lost on stunts. If these guys start it will be a repeat disaster. Is anyone paying attention?

- Rich, Pleasanton

Answer: There are a few reasons the Raiders weren't heavy on offensive linemen in this draft.

1) They like Kevin Boothe, a second-year player that started 14 games last season. There's also the chance another second-year player, Paul McQuistan could develop.

2) The believe the additions of Jeremy Newberry and Cooper Carlisle helped the unit.

3) The zone-blocking scheme being implemented that is similar to the Denver Broncos system doesn't put a high priority on drafting linemen early in the draft.

4) Kiffin hinted at changes he's made up front that we'll get to see when minicamp starts this week.

5) They're not giving up on Gallery or Grove yet.

I don't blame a player getting run over on a weekly basis just on scheme, either. But considering the money invested in someone like Gallery, the team just won't cut him.

The only offensive lineman drafted this year was tackle Mario Henderson in the third round. After taking two linemen last year, the Raiders don't want to be stocked with a bunch of young unproven lineman. Also, Gallery and Grove are still young.

So you better hope the Raiders hunch is right, or whoever the quarterback is could be on his back a lot.

- Jason Jones

April 30, 2007
Why not more for Randy Moss?


Question: Do you think the Raider's overall draft picks satisfied many of their needs? Couldn't they have gotten more for Randy Moss? I predict that he will be a star with New England.

- Jerry Schrec, Roseville

Answer: I think the Raiders draft satisfied several needs. I thought the offense had to be addressed at quarterback and tight end, which they did with JaMarcus Russell and Zach Miller. I like the choice of Quentin Moses, a pass rusher who could help immediately. I think he, along with Kevin Huntley from last season, gives the Raiders options off the edge to help out Derrick Burgess.

I also love the Michael Bush selection and a physical safety in Eric Frampton.

As for Moss, the highest I thought they could have gotten for Moss would have been a late third-round choice.

Why? He has been injured each of the last three seasons. He's 30 and a player whose biggest asset was his amazing speed and athleticism. He's at the age where he could lose a step. Several teams didn't double cover him last year, partly because they didn't have to, partly because they wouldn't waste an extra defender on him knowing the Raiders couldn't get him the ball.

And don't forget that in Commissioner Roger Goodell's era of punishing players for their conduct, Moss is still seen as a risk by a lot of executives. What if Moss has another interview and admits to marijuana use "every blue moon" again? That might get him suspended by Goodell.

He might be a star in New England, but it was never going to happen in Oakland. He didn't want to be a Raider and it showed in his play. So if he puts up big numbers for the Patriots, don't thing about what he would have done in Oakland because he wouldn't have done it in Oakland. He has a chance to reach the Super Bowl, which is what he wants. Helping a young team develop isn't on his agenda.

- Jason Jones

April 30, 2007
Who replaces Randy Moss?

Question: Will Mike Williams be the starter to replace Randy Moss?

- Alex, San Bernardino

Answer: My suspicion is yes. Based on how Lane Kiffin describes his offense, he prefers a big receiver at the 'X' spot, or receiver away from the tight end. Williams is big (6-4, 229) and played that spot in Kiffin's offense at USC.

Ronald Curry could play that spot, but I assume he'll be the third receiver again. I don't expect Kiffin to name Williams a starter right away. I think Kiffin will try to push Williams by not handing the job to him and making him beat out someone like Curry.

- Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
McCown, Williams welcome fresh start

I thought I was done for today, but Josh McCown and Mike Williams, the Raiders' Detroit imports, were available for comment after the draft.

Both are likely to have an impact before any of the drafted players. And both know the Raiders represent a chance to salvage their careers.

I remember Williams best for the one-handed catch he made in 2003 for USC against Oregon State. He snagged the ball and showed it to the official as he stayed inbounds long enough to establish possession for a touchdown.

Williams hasn't made such plays since the Lions drafted him in the first round in 2005.

His rookie season was about getting back into football mode after sitting out the 2004 season because the NCAA ruled him in eligible following his failed attempt to enter the draft after his sophomore season.

Last season, Williams said he was disenchanted after Steve Mariucci was fired and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz declared Williams wasn't the type of receiver he liked.

"Getting traded was like the best news I've had in - I can't remember," he said. "I mean, I never failed on any level of football. I feel like my first couple of years at Detroit I look at as kind of a failure. I failed at it, for numerous reasons or whatever the reasons were."

McCown was also caught up in the Martz change. He wanted to compete for a starting job, but Jon Kitna was the starter from Day 1.

That's why McCown is happy to be a Raider after passing on joining the team as a free agent last year. He has one year left on his contract and the chance to play is a plus.

"I was just looking for an opportunity to compete and to help the team," he said.

Early impressions of both: Honest and accountable. If things stay that way, it bodes well for the Raiders' locker room.

- Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
Time to look forward

Johnathan Holland, a receiver from Louisiana Tech, is the last of the Raiders' 11 selections in the 2007 NFL draft.

The Raiders picked up a quarterback, a tight end, two defensive linemen, a couple of receivers, a fullback, a tailback, two defensive backs and a tackle.

The team also added quarterback Josh McCown and receiver Mike Williams in a trade. That's 13 new players to alter a roster that is in need of an overhaul.

Mandatory minicamp starts Friday. Now the focus shifts from the draft to the season.

Will Derrick Burgess, who reportedly wants to renegotiate his five-year, $15 million contract, be there? We shall see.

- Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
Name is small wart in makeover

The draft is near its end.

The Raiders used their sixth-round draft choice on a running back named Orenthal. It's understandable he goes by Oren.

Oren O'Neal, a fullback from Arkansas State, was the choice. It's clear Kiffin is bringing in players to alter the look of the team.

One trapping of Art Shell's team last season was that he inherited a team that was used to losing and didn't shake up the roster.

Looks as if a lot familiar faces might be gone by the start of the 2007 season.

- Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
Defensive depth is fifth-round agenda

The fifth round wrapped up with the Raiders adding defensive lineman Jay Richardson and safety Eric Frampton.

No surprises this round. The Raiders need depth on the defensive line and could use another safety, especially one who likes to hit like Frampton.

The mild surprise was that the wheeling and dealing Raiders didn't make a trade - at least not today for the extra pick in the round.

That came from a trade with New England last year when the Raiders sent receiver Doug Gabriel for the pick.

The Patriots eventually cut Gabriel and he was claimed off waivers by the Raiders.

Who knows? Maybe the Pats will cut Moss and he'll end up in Oakland by the end of 2007. Nah.

- Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
Fourth-round busier than first

Musings from a busy morning:

The big move was trading Randy Moss. This is addition by subtraction. Moss isn't good for a struggling team, especially at this stage of his career. He wants to play for a contender, and anything else will leave him pouting.

Check out the full story here: http://www.sacbee.com/100/story/163325.html

I've defended Moss' right to be unhappy, but not his lack of effort. Jerry Porter, who had every reason to sulk last season, still ran the few routes he was in Art Shell's doghouse.

But there will plenty to be said about Moss. I really like the Raiders first pick today, Louisville running back Michael Bush.

Had Bush not broken his leg this year, he'd been a first or second round pick. He was a Heisman Trophy candidate before the injury in the team's first game of the season.

This move might not pay off right away. Don't be surprised if Bush is on injured reserve this season and allowed to rehab more if needed.

It could also mean this season might be LaMont Jordan's last in Oakland. If Bush regains his form, the Raiders would have a younger, cheaper big back.

Jordan is already peeved about taking a pay cut, which he did voluntarily not be released. That the team considered cutting him in the first place shows it has no problem moving on without Jordan.

John Bowie, a fast cornerback from Cincinnati, was the player chosen with the choice gained in the Moss trade.

Can't say I know a lot about him other than he is fast. Because the Raiders do play man coverage most of the time, a corner must have good speed to recover without help, so Bowie fits.

But the fourth round will be remembered as a chance to say goodbye to Moss.

And a final fourth-round thought: a starting backfield of JaMarcus Russell and Michael Bush in 2008? That sounds good to me.

--Jason Jones

April 29, 2007
Moss looks to be gone

Day 2 is underway and the Raiders have a lot going on already.

It’s looking more and more like Randy Moss will not be a Raider by the end of the day. Moss is reportedly in New England taking a physical to complete a trade with the Patriots.

Moss would get his wish to go to a contender in exchange for a fourth-round pick today. Reports also have Moss already having agreed to restructure his contract to make the trade work.

Lane Kiffin didn't sound confident yesterday Moss would be back, and it looks like he won't.

This would end two underwhelming years in Oakland for Moss. He was being booed at home by the end of last season after admitting his unhappiness caused him not to focus and drop passes.

The Raiders wanted more for Moss, but it’s hard to get a lot for a highly paid player with questionable work ethic coming off three years with injuries.

I figured all along the Raiders would get nothing more than a second day pick for Moss. I thought they’d be lucky to get a third round choice.

Any other player with Moss’ baggage and attitude would have been cut along time ago. We’ll find out later today if this deal becomes official.

If and when it does, Kiffin will have rid his locker room of one big distraction. Has Moss ever used to his full potential in Oakland?

No. But maybe a change of scenery will get Moss to focus and make him happy again.

So what are you going to do with your No. 18 jersey?

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Raiders' day is done

Day 1 is over. The Raiders selected receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. from UTEP with the final pick in the third round.

And guess what? He’s fast. It's hard to argue against the Raiders taking any player on offense.

The Raiders picked only one defensive player today. I expect more of the same tomorrow.

Check back tomorrow for more from Raiders headquarters and the 2007 NFL Draft.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
They're dealing again

It’s another trade for the Raiders. They just picked up tackle Mario Henderson from Florida State in the third round.

Here's the details as they finally address the offensive line:

Oakland acquires the No. 91 pick from New England and selected Henderson. The Patriots get the No. 211 pick (seventh round) and the Raiders' third-round pick in 2008.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Not a bad day for the Raiders

Lane Kiffin just dropped by to let us media types know the day couldn’t have gone any better thus far.

Every coach says that today, but I believe Kiffin when he says it. Maybe I’m just tired from a long night and having spent 11 hours here already, but I think the Raiders have made out well so far.

JaMarcus Russell was the easy choice. But landing Zach Miller after trading down for an extra pick, then using that pick for two more players was a good move.

Kiffin discussed Randy Moss, too. He said the Raiders aren't initiating trade talks with any teams about Moss. He said teams continue to call and Moss still being a Raider by the end of this weekend is no indication he will be a Raider by the start of the season.

I think the addition of Mike Williams lessens the likelihood of Moss returning. Not that Williams' two disappointing seasons in Detroit makes him better than Moss.

But if I were coaching a team, I'd rather have a lesser talent with talent with something to prove instead of the higher-paid player loafing because he doesn’t like his situation.

And Josh McCown having one year left on his contract, he’ll definitely come to Oakland trying to earn a new contract.

And as Kiffin says, money motivates players.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Defense in third round

The Raiders finally drafted a defensive player, Quentin Moses (6-5, 249) a defensive end from Georgia.

Can’t say I know a whole lot about this guy. But the Raiders do need some more pass rushers off the edge. Moses runs in the 4.7-second range in the 40-yard dash, so he should have a nice burst off the edge.

Besides Kevin Huntley, the Raiders don’t have another young defensive end that has shown he can get to the quarterback.

Can’t be mad at this pick. At least it wasn’t a cornerback.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
McCown is a now a Raider

Make that two quarterbacks today.

The Raiders traded the fourth round draft pick they acquired from Arizona today to Detroit for quarterback Josh McCown.

The Lions also threw in receiver Mike Williams, former USC star that has been a dud in Detroit the last two seasons after being a first-round selection.

McCown figures to start the season atop the depth chart based on having game experience. Williams gives the Raiders a receiver that has something to prove, unlike Randy Moss, who just wants out.

Lane Kiffin knows Williams from his time at USC. Williams missed a year of school after he tried to leave school for the NFL Draft in 2004 after his sophomore year, but was shot down after an appeals court agreed the NFL had the right not to allow him until after his junior year.

The NCAA didn’t allow Williams to play as a junior.

This is a nice bit of dealing. The Raiders moved down in the second round, landed a player they needed and picked up two more players thanks to the extra pick when they traded places with Arizona.
--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Is McCown on the way?

The Detroit Lions selection of quarterback Drew Stanton could pave the way for a rumored trade.

Lions backup Josh McCown wants out out Detroit and the Raiders could use a veteran quarterback while JaMarcus Russell learns how to play quarterback in the NFL.

The trade has been talked about for a while. With the Raiders having a couple of extra draft picks this year and the Lions knowing they have another young quarterback, it could make a deal easier to facilitate.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a deal done sometime soon. If not, Tim Rattay could become a stopgap to Russell.

-Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Raiders swing deal with Cardinals

The Raiders just traded their second round pick to the Arizona Cardinals. The Raiders moved down five spots, from No. 33 to No. 38 overall, and picked up a fourth round choice (105th overall).

The Raiders now have two of the first six picks in the fourth round. The team needs players and stockpiling draft picks doesn’t hurt.

They now have two third-round picks, two fourth-round picks, two fifth-round choices and two seventh-round selections.

That gives the Raiders 11 picks in the draft. The Raiders could use some of these picks to acquire a veteran quarterback in a trade, allowing them to bring in young players while not sacrificing their draft.

And chances are a player the Raiders could use -- like Texas offensive lineman Justin Blalock or Arizona State tight end Zach Miller -- will be available when the team picks later in the second round.

Either way, I like this strategy. If the Raiders don't trade some of these picks, they could use extra choices to find some backups on defense without sacrificing help on offense.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
Second round belongs to Kiffin

It’s the second round. The Raiders open the round with what has the chance to be a Lane Kiffin pick.

They could look at Dwayne Jarrett, the USC wide receiver who could step in and play if Randy Moss is traded. Jarrett, of course, played for Kiffin last season as Kiffin jumped to the pros from the Trojans staff this winter.

The top-rated center, Ryan Kalil of USC is still on the board, but the Raiders have a couple of centers.

Jarrett knows Kiffin’s offense and wouldn’t be a problem with team chemistry. He would be a player that already knows Kiffin as a coach, regardless of his age.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
These picks didn't go up in smoke

Given that each player's character was going to be scrutinized in this NFL draft, maybe honesty is the best policy after all.

Case in point: three high-profile players who admitted during the NFL Combine in February that they had smoked marijuana were among the first 10 picks. Calvin Johnson, wide receiver from Georgia Tech, was chosen No. 2 by Detroit. Gaines Adams, defensive end from Clemson, went to Tampa Bay at No. 4 and Amobi Okoye, the 19-year-old defensive tackle from Louisville, was taken No. 10 by Houston.

The unforunate part of their disclosure was that it was supposed to have been given in confidence to team representatives gathered in Indianapolis to observe and interview draft prospects. Instead, the information was leaked - intentionally perhaps by teams that had an interest in the trio and were trying to discourage rivals from drafting them.

Who knows? Anyway, commissioner Roger Goodell, who is cracking down on NFL misbehavior after a wave of lawless incidents last year, apologized to the three for the leak. In turn, Johnson, Adams and Okoye earned appreciation from teams for being so forthright about using marijuana. It wasn't something that was discovered independently and they had to be confronted with later. What's more, they apparently were convincing enough in their interviews in conveying they had no serious drug problem.

Deeper in the first-round selections Saturday, one player who was identifed as a potential draft risk, safety Brandon Meriweather from Miami, was chosen at No. 24 by New England. Meriweather's college background includes firing a handgun last summer, trying to protect a teammate from an assailant. He was not charged in the incident because he had a permit to carry a gun and it was proven he acted in self defense. There also was Meriweather's one-game suspension three months later for his part in an ugly brawl during a home game last season against Florida International.

You have to figure that the Patriots must have done their homework before selecting Meriweather because we can think of no stricter, no-nonsense taskmaster among coaches than Bill Belichick. Nevertheless, the pick turned some heads and bears watching.

--Jim Jenkins

April 28, 2007
Brady becomes a Brown

Finally, the Brady Quinn soap opera ends.

The Cleveland Browns, who were projected to take the Notre Dame quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft but instead opted for the best offensive lineman on the board, Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas, picked up Quinn anyway by swinging a trade with Dallas for the Cowboys' turn at No. 22.

Nice rescue for a collegiate star who had been a lifelong fan of the Browns, to now have a chance to play for them, when it appeared for awhile that no team had much interest in him -- at least not in the first round.

The price of this trade seems pretty steep, though. The Cowboys end up with Cleveland's second-round pick today, No. 36 overall, and the Browns' first-round pick in 2008. Would it be a stretch to think that perhaps the Browns could have waited until the second round and gotten him anyway? And unless the Browns make a dramatic turnaround, that 2008 first-round choice could be a high one.

So, a sweet deal for Dallas, it says here, and somethng of an ego-deflater for Quinn, who must have wondered why he chose to go to draft headquarters in New York and be exposed to all that camera-closeup embarrassment.

A Raiders executive told me last week that when Quinn came through Alameda for a visit, soon to be followed by LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, their ultimate pick, the Notre Damer "had a pretty cocky attitude. If that was about confidence, I guess it's OK, but compared to Russell, who had a quieter confidence about him, his personality kind of surprised us a little bit."
-- Jim Jenkins

April 28, 2007
High hopes for Raiders in second round

The first round is nearing the 20th pick, which is important to the Raiders. There is sure to be someone worthy of first-round consideration that will slip through to the second round.

And there are a couple of positions the team could benefit at if the right player is available.

The Raiders need help on the offensive line and someone like Auburn guard Ben Grubbs or Texas guard/tackle Justin Blalock could be available with the first pick in the second round, 33rd overall.

It also looks like one of the top-rated tight ends will be available, too. Greg Olsen of Miami, the top prospect figures to go pretty soon.

That might leave someone like Zach Miller of Arizona State, another good tight end prospect, available in the second round.

The team landed a player with Pro Bowl potential in linebacker Thomas Howard last year.

High second-round choices afford teams the chance to pick a player with first-round ability at a cheaper price.

April 28, 2007
Where might Brady fall?

The most interesting thing right now until the Raiders select again is the freefall of Brady Quinn.

He campaigned to be the first overall choice, which didn’t happen. The Raiders did the right thing going with JaMarcus Russell.

Quinn might be ready to play sooner, but the first pick shouldn’t be used on who would help right away. The choice should go to the player who will be the best player.

Don’t forget Carson Palmer sat his entire rookie year before stepping into the starting lineup his second year.

Quinn could be waiting for a while. Jacksonville (No. 17) is a long shot. Kansas City at No. 23 is a possibility.

This day could prove there was a bigger gap between the first-rated quarterback and second quarterback than anyone ever imagined.

That’s only if Russell pans out.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
With Russell on board, focus is now on Moss

The Raiders selected JaMarcus Russell as expected with the first selection in the 2007 NFL draft. But who cares.

Randy Moss is still the buzz.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said he didn't want to take away from Russell's day by talking about Moss, but said the team is fielding calls about trades for the highly paid wideout that wants to play for a winning team.

If Moss wants out badly, it would be best for the Raiders to get whatever they can for him in a trade (nope, it won't be a first or second round pick) and pass him on to the next team.

I don't begrudge Moss for wanting out. He's a lot closer to the end of his career and wants a crack at a Super Bowl. The Raiders won't be there next year.

This is Russell's team now. He doesn't need the distraction of having to answer questions about Moss.

The Raiders need to do all they can to create a positive environment around their new quarterback.

If that means no Moss, so be it.

--Jason Jones

April 28, 2007
What's ahead for Russell in Oakland

JaMarcus Russell is headed for Oakland.

It could be cynically said the black suit he wore at the draft in New York was fitting, considering the tough times ahead behind the Raiders offensive line.

But Lane Kiffin hinted at changes up front that would make the offensive line a "strength" this season.

For Russell's sake, I hope so.

He might be 6-6, 260 pounds, but that won't matter if he's getting hit every other time he passes.

I agree with this selection. The franchise has leaned too long on aging vets at quarterback. And if the Raiders ever want to win another Super Bowl, it starts with Russell.

The offense might finally have a real leader for the first time since Rich Gannon. That seems like ages ago.

Here's to hoping he stays upright.

--Jason Jones.

April 27, 2007
A different season

Question: What differences have you observed to date under Lane Kiffin vs. the total disaster that was Art Shell and Co. of last year to give a Raider fan hope that things may be at least headed toward respectability, albeit slowly?
-- John, Folsom

Answer: It’s way too early to get really know how different things will be under Kiffin. In speaking with some of the players, the opinion of Kiffin is that he is enthusiastic and moves things at a fast pace. Jerry Porter likens him to Jon Gruden. LaMont Jordan points out it’s only April and isn’t everyone excited in April? The Raiders were all excited last year too (well Porter wasn’t) about the prospects for the 2006 season. Off the field, there appears to be a little more harmony. Senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi is allowed to watch practice again after his rift with Shell left him banned from the field. But that shouldn’t be mistaken for a utopia in Raiderland. Mark Jackson was hired by Kiffin to do many of the things Lombardi did, like deal with contracts. That could surface as another point of contention if Lombardi sticks with the Raiders.
-- Jason Jones

Question: We all know Al Davis calls the shots. Do you think it's important for Lane Kiffin to have a great deal of input in who the Raiders draft this year?
-- Bret Henderson, Girard, Ohio

Answer: Yes. Logic would dictate with an offense that was so bad last year that Kiffin would be able to have a say in how the roster is revamped to fit his system. I’m not sure how the Raiders can justify bringing back essentially the entire offense from last year except for Aaron Brooks and believe simply changing scheme will lead to more points. If Kiffin is going to put in a new system, he has to have input in who runs the system. But as you stated, we all know who has the final say.

April 25, 2007
What's up with Art Shell these days?


Question: Prior to the 2006 season, much was made of the rift between Al Davis and Art Shell finally being mended. As a lifelong Raiders fan, I was thrilled that these two Silver & Black legends had finally worked out their differences. Now, I've read that Shell's firing was very contentious, and the old friends are, once again, no longer on speaking terms. While the 2006 Art Shell was obviously a bad fit as head coach, he deserves a place in the Raiders organization. What is the status of the Davis-Shell relationship now?

- Joel Eagelston, Phoenix, Ariz.

Answer: I’d say that relationship is still on frosty terms. Shell believes he did what Davis asked him to do to the team in terms of discipline and structure and he paid for it with his job. Since being fired, Davis has said it was Shell’s decision to draft safety Michael Huff instead of quarterback Matt Leinart. Now the Raiders could be looking for a quarterback of the future this year in the draft.

And in Shell’s rift with personnel executive Mike Lombardi, it appears Davis sided with Lombardi. Things were so contentious between Lombardi and Shell, Lombardi wasn’t allowed on the practice field last season. Shell believed Lombardi undermined his coaching staff by talking to national media outlets as an unnamed source and belittling offensive coordinator Tom Walsh.

Lombardi is still employed by the Raiders, though there are some within the organization that believe Lombardi could be gone in the future. Also, when Shell was fired, the statement issued by the Raiders alluded to Shell remaining with the team in some capacity. That wouldn’t be in personnel at this time, as Shell would probably never work with Lombardi. Also, there was no written agreement or job description of what job Shell might have with the Raiders.

Things could change, but with a new coach in place and several players who weren’t happy with how things went last season, it’s doubtful Davis would bring Shell back around the team anytime soon.

- Jason Jones

April 25, 2007
Would Brady Quinn be a good pick?


Question: I know that JaMarcus Russell is favored to be Oakland’s first overall pick, but do you think it would be a bad choice if the Raiders drafted Brady Quinn instead?

- Rick, Moorhead, Minn.

Answer: I don’t think it would be a bad decision if the Raiders were to select Quinn. I would like that decision if Quinn was picked by the Raiders third or fourth overall after a trade. If the Raiders keep the first pick, it would make sense to take the highest rated players. If they like Quinn enough to draft him, they could probably get him further down in the draft, which also would mean a lower price. That would also mean the Raiders would have added a couple of extra draft choices, which would give them the player they want (if it’s Quinn) along with some extra players to help him out.

- Jason Jones

April 25, 2007
Youth movement for Raider Nation?


Question: How about a youth movement for Raider Nation?: Trade the No. 1 pick and one fifth-rounder to Cleveland, pick up their No. 1 (third overall) and second-rounder and a pick next year. Dump Randy Moss and fourth-rounder and a fifth-round choice to the 49ers and pick up a first- and second-round pick. Draft Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and Penn State tackle Levi Brown in the first round. Take guard Ben Grubbs of Auburn or Texas guard Justin Blaylock, USC receiver Steve Smith and Arizona State tight end Zach Miller. In the third round, draft Florida State running back Lorenzo Booker (Lane Kiffin can use him in Reggie Bush-like formations) and UTEP receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins. Oh yeah, trade for Detroit quarterback Josh McCown to start the year.

- Daniel, Sacramento

Answer: I’ll forward this along to the Raiders since you seem to have this whole NFL draft thing figured out. But this is the NFL Draft, where nothing is ever that simple. Deals have to work for both sides, and your proposed trades look great for the Raiders, but not for the other teams.

- Jason Jones

April 25, 2007
Decisions, decisions

Owner Al Davis likes JaMarcus Russell.

Coach Lane Kiffin adores Brady Quinn.

The scouts are in love with Calvin Johnson.

The NFL Draft is Saturday and the Raiders have had preliminary contract talks with each of their three favorite prospects.

Believing he made a mistake by not taking a quarterback last season, I don’t expect Davis to let his new coach or scouts have their way.

So disappointed was Davis with the Raiders' quarterback play, he took to blaming Art Shell for not drafting Matt Leinart last year (yeah right, I don’t believe that either).

Kiffin is familiar with Quinn and just about every scout believes Johnson will be a star receiver. But it is Davis who has the final say, even if he says it was Shell’s call last year.

In Davis’ more than four decades with the Raiders, he’s only selected a quarterback in the first round twice: Marc Wilson in 1980 and Todd Marinovich in 1991.

But never has the Raiders offense been so bad. And unless Davis is blown away by a trade offer by a team looking to land Johnson, he’ll go with Russell. A move in another direction means someone else could be the fall guy in a couple of years.
-- Jason Jones

April 11, 2007
Hardly fair to judge Walter - or Moss

Last year, Andrew Walter heard talk the Raiders might select Matt Leinart. The speculation was for naught because the Raiders picked safety Michael Huff and added the veteran to hold the spot for Walter in Aaron Brooks.

Last season turned into a 2-14 nightmare, and now the Raiders have the first pick in the draft - and with it comes quarterback speculation to go with the Raiders possibly trading for Detroit's Josh McCown.

It has been asked if it's fair to judge Walter on last season's disaster on offense.

Simply put, no.

It was Walter's first season on the field and he didn't have the support around him to succeed. But the Raiders have to consider JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn, if they believe either will become an elite quarterback.

There's always a chance Calvin Johnson could be a Raider, which might foretell the Raiders moving Randy Moss.

Speaking of Moss, I might have implied (unintentionally) Moss having a poor attitude and not doing his job and being unfocused was OK. My bad.

No one should be unprofessional and not do their job at their highest level because they're in a bad mood.

My point was, why is it that whenever Moss' attitude is brought up, a lot of the uproar surrounds how much Moss is paid?

My point is, just because Moss makes millions of dollars doesn't mean he can't be unhappy.

Why is that because an athlete makes a lot of money, he is expected to put up with drama at work with a smile? Isn't a happy workplace a more productive workplace in any field?

Believe me, there were a lot of unhappy Raiders in 2006, and I can't believe that didn't affect the results on the field.

For those of you who say you work just as hard when you're having a bad day, I just can't believe it. Moss' mistake was admitting what everyone could see.

- Jason Jones

April 10, 2007
Moss' absence nothing to sweat

ALAMEDA - Randy Moss wasn't at today's voluntary minicamp.

Big deal? Not really.

Don't read into Moss' absence that he'll be traded next week. Wide receivers learning a new offense don't have to learn as much as, say, running backs, who are intimately involved in the run and pass games.

Moss will be the subject of trade rumors as long as he's a Raider and the team struggles. But teammates like Moss and want him back.

In fairness to Moss, who said his unhappiness last seaon led to dropped passes, how many of us do our best when we're unhappy? All too often, the amount of money athletes are paid makes the public forget they are humans with real feelings, even if they have seven-figure salaries.

Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess weren't present, but they know the defense and as veterans with Pro Bowls to their names, they've earned the right to pass on a voluntary three-day camp.

Punter Shane Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski also weren't around but, hey, they are the kicker and punter. Just how much would they do out here anyway?

- Jason Jones

April 8, 2007
A tight end couldn't hurt

Question: Jason, all the talk has been about the Raiders upgrading their offensive line and their quarterback positions. Don't you think that they should also be looking at drafting a tight end on the first day of the draft? P.S. - Has anybody ever told you that you look like Tyrone Wheatley?
- Dan, Fremont

Answer: I agree 100 percent. The Raiders haven't had an impact tight end for sometime. The addition of a true tight end (not a bulked-up wide receiver) would help the offense and give it more options. While using an offensive lineman (usually Chad Slaughter last season) as a tight end might add size, it limits what the offense can do in the passing game in short yardage.

The Raiders signed two tight ends this offseason (Tony Stewart and Fred Wakefield), but a legitimate pass threat at tight end would help the offense a lot. Making the tight end a part of the passing game would help the wide receivers get single coverage and the offensive line because it would give the offense a quick outlet.

And nope, I've never been told I look like Tyrone Wheatley. I've been told I look like several current and former NFL players (being about 6-foot-2, 275 pounds will do that) including Art Shell. In fact, when I went to Shell's news conference last year, I was told by fans to wish my "dad" good luck.

And there's nothing quite like being asked for my autograph during training camp or when on the road and I'm around players.

But I don't think any kid out there wants me to sign their football with my old high school number from my high school days as an offensive lineman. (I wore 57 because I couldn't get Howie Long's 75).
- Jason Jones

April 8, 2007
Mark this: Take JaMarcus

Question: Greetings from Raider Nation, Mr. Jones. Given the current developments in free agency and where the Raiders are at this point in time, what do think is needed to bring the Raiders back to prominence in the AFC West? What would you do, who would you draft? Is a new quarterback the answer or is wide receiver Calvin Johnson "the man?" Play head coach for a moment and let's see how you would approach the draft and preseason.
- William Morris, Modesto

Answer: This should be fun. Just be warned, I am younger than Lane Kiffin, so I'd go the video game route and go to the create-a-player mode and create some players with 99 ratings.

But once I turn off the PlayStation, I'd draft JaMarcus Russell. Having passed on Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers in recent drafts, it's time the Raiders addressed the position.

I think Calvin Johnson is great. But with the first overall pick, with the amount of money invested at the spot, I think you have to take a quarterback when one like Russell is available. The hard thing for the Raiders is it's almost impossible to tell exactly how good Andrew Walter could be because the offense was so bad at so many levels last season. And no one player is "the answer" for what ailed the offense in 2006, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders went with Johnson, figuring giving Walter another weapon would make him look a lot better.

Don't forget, last season was Walter's first on the field. It would be ideal to trade down to get Johnson, but teams trading up likely would eye him, so the best way to get him would be taking him first.

But I guess I haven't really answered the question. I'd draft Russell. Good thing I'm not in charge because I'm sure I'd mess this up.
- Jason Jones

April 6, 2007
Walter will try to change Raiders' draft direction

The NFL Draft is three weeks away and another veteran quarterback is off the market.
Not that David Carr would have been the Raiders’ offensive savior, but his decision to sign with the Carolina Panthers gives the Raiders more reason to draft JaMarcus Russell, but will they?
The Raiders are lacking an experienced quarterback. Drafting Russell would add talent, but it would help the learning process with an experienced quarterback guiding him along the way.
Maybe the Raiders believe they have the veteran they need on the roster, even if he is still relatively inexperienced.
Things were so hectic last season, it was impossible to get a fair assessment of Andrew Walter. He could begin the season as the Raiders’ starter, provided the team doesn’t add a veteran quarterback before training camp.
With Josh Booty and Jeff Otis fighting for a spot on the roster, Walter’s the Raiders’ only QB to have thrown an NFL pass.
There are rumors the Raiders are interested in trading for Detroit backup Josh McCown. McCown visited the Raiders as a free agent last season before signing a two-year contract with the Lions.
The Raiders will hold their first veteran voluntary minicamp next week in Alameda. Walter will try to convince the Raiders might be better off selecting Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson instead of Russell.
The NFL Network reported Johnson visited Raiders headquarters on Wednesday and Russell will be in town next week.
--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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