Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

January 14, 2008
The means to an end

Norv Turner, that man noted for his inability to inspire anything other than boredom, beat the defending Super Bowl Champions with a drive led by Billy Volek.

Wow.

Now he'll go against the Patriots and Randy Moss, who famously dismissed Turner as a coach in an ESPN interview back in 2005.

But I won't pour salt in the wounds of Raider fans who've dealt with seeing the happy Moss set records in New England.

I try to be a man of my word so today I begin y look at the Raiders biggest needs with the help of some reader questions.

I’ll begin with area that needs the most help, the defensive line.

Question: With the first round pick in this up coming draft would you see Glenn Dorsey as a better fit then Chris Long? I like both players don't get me wrong but Chris was born to be a Raiders player based on his father. Do you think the Raiders may just trade down pick up some picks and get an OL. Let me know. P.S. I read your blogs almost everyday.
John, Post Falls, Idaho

Answer: Thanks for the question, John.

From what I’ve seen in nearly three seasons following the Raiders, I’d say Dorsey, the massive defensive tackle from LSU is the best fit.

I love Chris Long. His dad was my favorite player growing up. Because I couldn’t wear No. 75 (Long Beach Poly didn’t have one) I wore 57 in honor of Howie Long. The Raiders will probably resign Tommy Kelly and play him at defensive end, meaning there won’t be as big a need at the position.

The Raiders were dominated by the opposition on runs up the middle this year. And the team has not done a good job developing any young defensive tackles. The closest thing would be Terdell Sands, who was wildly inconsistent in 2007 after receiving a four-year, $17 million contract.

They’ve opted for free agents like Warren Sapp and Ted Washington or trading for the likes of Gerard Warren to fill the void in the middle.

Unless the Raiders find another stopgap via free agency, the Raiders need to address defensive tackle early.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Long goes first overall. If Dorsey is available when the Raiders’ pick comes up, expect him to be a Raider.

The Raiders could trade down, but I’d still expect them to select a defensive lineman if they do. Paul McQuistan did well enough that he will probably remain the starting right tackle. Guards Robert Gallery and Cooper Carlisle should be fine.

The question is if the Raiders look for an upgrade at left tackle with Barry Sims getting older and the status of Jeremy Newberry unknown at center. Jake Grove, Newberry’s backup, will be returning but missed much of the season with a knee injury.

****

Before the Raiders draft, there will be a lot of examining the defensive line in 2007.

Some things went right.

Defensive ends

That Jay Richardson was able to start at both defensive end spots as a rookie means at the very least, the Raiders have better depth at the position.

After being disappointed in how Derrick Burgess was playing against the run, Kiffin came away a fan of his effort and his role as a leader by the end of the season.

Burgess didn’t have Warren Sapp playing at the same level he was at in 2006 so teams were able to focus on him more. And with teams running at the Raiders consistently, there were fewer pass rush chances for him.

The Raiders also need to resign Kiffin favorite Chris Clemons.

He’s undersized for a defensive end (6-3, 240), but he’s the kind of player the Raiders need more of. He doesn’t pass the eyeball test (he looks like a linebacker) but he finished tied with Burgess for the team-lead with eight sacks.

Clemons is a film junkie that spent a couple of hours every Tuesday, the players’ off days, trying to find ways to improve.

Tommy Kelly played end and tackle. If he’s going to be a tackle, the Raiders could look to lure a free agent end to Oakland to play opposite Burgess or draft Long if he’s available.

Of the defensive ends I’ve seen in college, Long is the only one worthy of going so high.

If Kelly is resigned and healthy, he could still play end, making Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis, bigger priorities to draft at defensive tackle.

Tyler Brayton played end and tackle. That just leaves middle linebacker and the secondary as the only areas of the field the Raiders haven’t tried him at.

He can be become a free agent that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders resigned him.

I’ll look at defensive tackles tomorrow.

--Jason Jones

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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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