Itís already the second week of April, which means the NFL Draft is fast approaching.
While we all know the big names, a teamís draft is truly built in the middle rounds and depth provided by finding gems in the form of undrafted rookies.
TE Jon Madsen, former KR/CB Chris Carr are a couple of unsigned players the Raiders have benefited from. Later-round picks like FB Oren OíNeal and DE Jay Richardson were major contributors last year.
The Raiders have shown a liking for former Stanford linebackers the last couple of seasons.
Before an injury, Timi Wusu looked to be in position to claim a roster spot as an undrafted rookie in 2006. The Raiders were happy with the addition of Jon Alston last year, too.
A late-round draft pick/free agent option the Raiders could look at is Stanford LB Landon Johnson.
Raider fans should love this statement from Johnson:
ďI think playing the run is my strong suit,Ē Johnson said. ďIím from Texas so Iím used to playing the run.Ē
Johnson (6-1, 230) had the misfortune of attending Stanford at a time in which the team went through three head coaches. He was also dogged by injuries.
But heís a good athlete and I looking forward to showing an NFL team what he can do when not asked to play multiple spots in multiple schemes.
ďThe fact that we had so many coaching staffs I learned a lot of different things,Ē Johnson said.
Heíll workout with the 49ers later this month. Johnson hasnít heard from the Raiders, but that doesnít mean he couldnít be in camp with them.
After all, donít the Raiders need at least one Stanford linebacker a year?
Now itís time for some reader questions:
Question: I love your articles and the way you cover the Raiders. You are the one guy that never seems to over react to something. You find the answer the best you can and give it. Thanks. BUT, you lost much respect from me with the whole Kobe M.V.Crap thing. This guy is a joke and the league treats him like a god. He walks EVERY time he gets the ball. The W's got hosed on that foul at the end of the game. The refs are a joke and the Lakers need them to win.
Answer: Maybe the league treats him like a god because he is a basketball god? And the last time I checked the refs never made a shot for the Lakers. But thanks for the kind words. I hope I can salvage a little respect.
Question: When will the actual schedule be released? I heard it was supposed to be on April 3rd, 1pm PST on NFL Network, but it is not listed now. Inquiring minds want to know.
Brian, San Lorenzo
Answer: I donít know, but if you check out profootballtalk.com, thereís a post speculating the release date could be April 11 or April 17th.
I donít know why the league drags this out. Iíd like to plan my social activities on the road, so the sooner I know the better.
Oops, I mean the hours Iíll spend in the hotel going over stats for the next game.
Question: Are the Raiders gonna resign Barry Sims to play left tackle because Kwame Harris isnít the answer, or would they draft Jake Long if he is available or Clady from Boise St. since he is in zone blocking scheme in college. What are your thoughts on WrestleManiaís pretty weak matches.
Adam, Brockport, Pa.
Answer: I donít see a scenario in which Barry Sims would be re-signed. And though Harris isnít viewed as the answer by most pundits, heíll get every chance to be the answer. A dark horse at left tackle could be Mark Wilson, a former Cal standout and Redskins draft pick that spent most of last season on the practice squad. Mario Henderson and Cornell Green will battle for time at right tackle, based on what Lane Kiffin said last at the NFL Owners Meetings. Iím not sure if the team would give Paul McQuistan a look at left tackle. They believe he can also play guard.
As for WrestleMania, I didnít shell out nearly $60 to watch it and the only match I really wanted to see was Ric Flairís last match. I figured theyíd make Edge put over the Undertaker, but was pleasantly surprised Orton didnít have to drop the belt. The company needs to give heels longer runs as champions.
Question:I have a suggestion to your blog.
Why don't you include in this blog, videos of your interviews with players, coaches, trainers, etc. Everything related to Raider Football, it will be very nice, I haven't seen anybody do that yet.
Question regarding DMC. What type of RB he is? Just a straight gap RB where his speed is the main thing, cut RB? Compare him to AP, who is more explosive? Who will you have in the bottom of the ninth with a tie score?
Jose, Mexico City, Mexico
Answer: There are actually NFL rules that prevent the posting of video.
As for McFadden vs. Adrian Peterson, I think AP is more of a power back compared to DMC. McFadden is a bigger threat in the passing game and might have better ďstraight-lineĒ speed.
If I have to choose, I say Peterson just because Iíve seen what he can do in the pros already.
Question: You wrote: "Newberry is a favorite of Lane Kiffin and offensive line coach Tom Cable"
Newberry is known to have wanted to remain a Raider. If the coach, line coach and player all were high on each other, what possible reason could there be for his not returning? He played very well on a phenomenally improved line last year. I know Davis calls the shots, but there's no reason he wouldn't agree to bring him back if Cable really wanted him. Is it possible Cable's being polite publically about Newberry, but didn't necessarily want the aging, injury prone C back?
Bladewalker, Madsion, Wi.
Answer: I donít think it was a Cable just being polite. I know he really likes Jeremy. But this is a business and Newberry was toughing it out on knees that had been through a lot. And in John Wade, the Raiders found a veteran without a recent history of injuries.
I think the Wade signing says more about the status of Jake Grove. He was injured a lot of last season and hasnít lived up to the expectations of a player that was billed as the best in his draft class at his position.
In Newberry and now Wade, the Raiders have sought out bigger centers to push Grove. Though the zone-blocking scheme is supposed to benefit smaller linemen, the Raiders clearly want size at center along with agility.
Question: Although I am elated at the MNF opener announcement, I thought it a very curious choice, don't you? Denver hasn't been to the playoffs the past two years and Oakland is the proud owner of the worst NFL record over the past five years. I am sure there are a lot of teams a little miffed. And yes, I agree about the 2006 opener. I spent a LOT of money getting awesome seats to treat my brother and nephews only to watch an absolute disaster. Your prediction of a second week cross country flight will absolutely come true.
Answer: I figured the Raiders might debut on MNF this season because the NFL needs a West coast game to have a doubleheader. But my guess would have been the Raiders hosting New England in Randy Mossí return to Oakland. Perhaps that game figured to be lopsided and the league opted for a game that would be more competitive on paper.
Question: What up Jason. Keep up the good work bro, I'm on here daily trying to get my Raider fix. The question I have for you is this: With Kiffin's recent comments on us not needing help in the RB dept., do you feel like that may be him positioning to get McFadden? It's unlike the Raiders, or any team for that matter to "show their hand" so to speak.
Isaiah, Tucson, Az
Answer: I donít believe anything a coach, GM or anyone associated with a team says about the draft.
By saying the team doesnít need a running back Kiffin could be putting the word out that a team wanting to trade up for McFadden needs to call, but Iím sure thatís already been done.
Question: Last year, Coach had several opportunities to break in our young talents, particularly J Russ and M Bush. Can you explain to me why he left them on the shelf as he did? And do you agree with me that this was a bad move on Kiffin's part? What will he do this year if we get someone like DMac? I think our team would be better off had we played these guys, and this was definitely Kiffin's biggest rookie mistake. Other than that, and some conservative play calling, I do like the young coach.
JT, San Mateo
Answer: Iíll start with Bush. The Raiders werenít willing to release LaMont Jordan to make room for Bush on the roster. I thought part of the reasoning (not wanting to see Jordan end up with Denver or Kansas City) was ridiculous. The Raiders werenít a playoff team, so why worry about those teams when the Raiders should have been preparing its young players for 2008.
I understood bringing Russell along slowly except for the whole not letting Russell play in the cold business. As one player mentioned: ďWhat are you gonna do when you have to play in Denver in December?Ē
I assume these are things Kiffin will learn from. As for McFadden, that wouldnít be a problem.
First, he wouldnít be coming off an injury, like Bush was. Secondly, Iíve never heard of a team holding a running back out because he wasnít ready to play. That just doesnít happen.