The question I’m asked most who will the Raiders draft. If I had a definitive answer, I’d be in Las Vegas right now with my paycheck with my money on that player.
Most mock drafts have the Raiders selecting RB Darren McFadden. One interesting mock draft, done by former Raiders personnel employee, Mike Lombardi, has the team selecting DE Vernon Gholston, the player I’ve touted for the last month or so.
Truth is there’s no way of knowing what might happen. Every year there’s a player that is picked surprisingly high, another that drops for no real reason.
I believe the pick will either be Gholston or McFadden because chances are DE Chris Long or DT Glenn Dorsey won’t be available at No. 4. I wouldn’t rule out DT Sedrick Ellis, either.
Here’s what some are saying about the Raiders’ draft options:
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King:
“4. Oakland. DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU. This guy is Warren Sapp Jr. If Dorsey's still on the board, I see the Saints trying hard to trade into this spot to get him. It might work. If he's not, my guess is Chris Long, who actually doesn't mind the gargantuan shadow his father will cast if Chris goes to the Raiders. One thing about the Raiders, though: They don't call the place the Black Hole for nothing. They're also the Black Hole for draft nuggets. I don't feel confident predicting anything they'd do, except I don't think they'll pick Darren McFadden, because they think Michael Bush will come back strong from his 2006 broken leg and be an every-down back, potentially this year.”
Pat Kirwan, NFL.com
(He has the Raiders taking Gholston)
“The Raiders may take Darren McFadden but Gholston has rare athletic ability. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan likes to play hybrid 4-3/3-4 defenses and Gholston is a key to that package.”
Todd McShay, ESPN:
“4. Oakland Raiders -- Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Record: 4-12 | Needs: DE/DT, OT/G, SLB, WR, RB
Scenario 1: The Raiders' dream scenario -- the son of Hall of Famer and former Raider Howie Long slipping to the fourth pick -- is definitely likely.
Scenario 2: If Chris Long is gone, then RB Darren McFadden becomes the pick. Owner Al Davis is in love with McFadden's speed and envisions a young, explosive backfield that features McFadden and last year's No. 1 overall pick, QB JaMarcus Russell.
Scenario 3: If Long and McFadden are off the board, the Raiders would look to bolster the defensive front with the top available prospect from the group of Dorsey, Gholston and DT Sedrick Ellis.”
But I’ll take a stab at some other questions that I have a better chance of answering.
Question: With the fact that a lot of publications have labeled Robert Gallery as a bust even though he had (in my opinion) a good year under (offensive line) coach Tom Cable last year, do you think that this will be a breakout All-Pro year for Gallery in his second year in coach Cable's system
Answer: The coaching staff has made it clear Gallery is a guard and not a tackle, so in that sense, he is a bust because guards aren’t drafted second overall.
For Gallery to make a big leap to the elite level there are some things he must do. He has to cut down on his penalties and dominate consistently against the league’s better defensive tackles. Gallery needs to get better in pass protection and he also needs to emerge as a leader on the team and become the team’s best offensive lineman, without question. Some feel the Raiders simply hid Gallery’s shortcomings by playing him at guard.
Do I see that this year? Can’t say I do. Not for a lack of effort, but I just wonder if that can ever happen for Gallery with the Raiders. With all the coaching changes he’s been through and position changes, a fresh start elsewhere might be best for him.
But this will be the first time in his career that he will go into the season at the same position he finished at the previous year, so I do expect improvement. I’m just not ready to book his ticket to Hawaii.
Question: Do you think the Raiders drafting McFadden will help take the pressure and attention away from JaMarcus Russell, and actually help him "settle" in? This is why I feel it would be an intelligent draft choice. Your opinion?
Bryan, Keller, TX
Answer: McFadden would definitely do that. But I also think the combination of Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes and Michael Bush will do a good job of that, too. I believed the Raiders needed an elite receiver to take pressure of Russell since he already has a very good tight end in Zach Miller. If Javon Walker stays healthy, Russell has that receiver.
McFadden would give the Raiders a lot of flexibility. I just don’t think he’s the most pressing need.
I enjoy reading your blog about the team, however, I must tell you that Jerry McDonald's blog has you beat ten-fold. I do not mean to insult you, he just always gives his readers something to ponder over, and more importantly, he gives Raider fans who are starved for information, little tidbits that keep us occupied while we wait for the draft, training camp, and the season to start. He is not a Raider fan, yet he covers the team with a passion!
As a fan of the team, it would be great to get more regularity from you...
Chris, La Jolla
Answer: Ouch, Chris. Tenfold? I’m going unplug my laptop right now.
Seriously, I only try to blog when there’s something worthwhile. I don’t want to post things just to say I posted something.
But I’m always open to suggestions as to what readers want. I wouldn’t think the Vegas odds on the Raiders winning the Super Bowl or old media transcripts would be something fans want. I try to offer a different perspective without simply repeating what others have said.
I agree, Jerry does a great job. Also, Jerry’s job is specifically to blog. I have other duties outside of blogging (not that anyone cares about my workload). But as this business continues to change, blogging is becoming a bigger part of what beat writers’ job descriptions.
So if it’s the minutia you want, that’s what I’ll try to provide, even if I’m only 1/10 the blogger Jerry Mac is. If there are any other blogs readers like that I can model myself after, feel free to pass the links along.
After all, I don’t know everything. I just pretend to for a living.