For all you conspiracy theorists out there, you’ll be glad to know Lane Kiffin wore a red (eerily close to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers colors) shirt at today’s press conference.
That’s right, he’s clearly letting the world know he’ll join Jon Gruden and his father, Monte Kiffin, in Tampa by the end of the year.
But onto more serious matters, like the 2008 NFL Draft.
Kiffin discussed the very real possibility of the Raiders trading down because they only have five picks in the draft, none in the second or third rounds.
When a trade might happen isn’t certain.
“Something can happen any minute here. If that happens it’s more that we’re looking at it and saying there’s not someone there we just feel great about. Or the other way is if our guy is not there at that point we’ll go ahead and deal with that on Saturday, but we’ve got to wait until we’re on the clock to make sure our guy’s not there.”
He added a late first and a late second wouldn't be enough to make a deal. So a team in the middle of the first round that might really want Darren McFadden could be a partner (Chicago?)
There will be more on that in tomorrow’s paper, since I still have to write a story. But here are some noteworthy things from Kiffin.
*He reiterated defensive line is where the biggest need is. He believes Chris Long’s strength would be a boost against the run. He said Vernon Gholston might be a better fit in a 3-4, but he can definitely play defensive end in the 4-3.
*For those that don’t know, Al Davis has the final say on draft picks.
“He's the owner. At the end, if there's a disagreement on something, it's going to be expressed why and the reason why I feel we should go a certain way. He owns the team, just like 31 other teams, in the end, that's who's going to have the final say.”
*Kiffin talked about the need for a "dynamic" player a lot last season. That's the word he used to describe McFadden more than once.
*On drafting offensive linemen in the zone-blocking scheme:
“I think if you saw our board on offensive linemen you'd be shocked because it wouldn't go anywhere near any of the mock drafts or any of the people that you see where you go. We'd have people at the top of our offensive line board that you'd think are fourth or fifth round picks. It's a different way to evaluate people. Some people can really play in this system really well.”
*On JaMarcus Russell:
“He came back 10, 11 days before we even started. So he was with our coaches and with our strength staff before everybody else got back here five weeks ago and he hasn't missed a thing since. Most the guys are really here 3-4 hours a day. He's here about 5 1/2, 6 hours a day. He's here first thing in the morning, he has position meetings in the morning, he goes in and lifts and he goes in and runs. He comes in and changes and goes back out and throws with the guys. By far he's in the best shape since I've seen him, even if you go back to his pro day at college. So I know he's real excited about the upcoming season as well.”
*Kiffin said the decision of whether to draft a defensive end or tackle also depends on what the team can expect from Terdell Sands. After emerging as run stuffer in 2006 and signing a four-year, $17 million deal, he tailed off noticeably in 2007.
“Last offseason he went through a lot of tough things. Lost a number of very close people in his family, and as you look back, that affected him, and I know he’d be the first to tell you, he didn’t go through the offseason the way he should have, and he let that affect his football instead of dealing with it otherwise, and did not have a productive offseason, and ended up having to play catch up the whole time. Training camp isn’t the time here to catch up and to get in shape. Training camp, come in shape, and we’ll improve you and get you better. Instead, he came in to get in shape in training camp and never caught up.”
Kiffin said Sands has been present a lot this offseason after not being around much at all last year.
*Michael Bush is looking good at running back and just needs an opportunity.
And finally, Kiffin on the running back the fans love to hate, LaMont Jordan, when asked if he expected him to be on the team this season.
“I don’t know that. LaMont does have a very high contract, and a big number coming into this. So we have to look at what happens in the draft, look at what else is going on and make a decision.”
Kwame Harris and DeAngelo Hall also spoke today and I’ll have more on them later. But I need to get to writing a story before my editor thinks I’m busy on Myspace, Facebook, or just watching YouTube highlights of Kobe Bryant.