Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

March 11, 2009
Potential Raider draft pick has a down day

The reports from the Alabama tackle Andre Smith's Pro Day have been underwhelming.

He only bench-pressed 225 pounds 19 times.

His 40-yard dash times were 5.28 and 5.33 seconds according to He weighed in at 325 pounds and reports had him looking noticeably overweight.

I spoke to a scout prior to Smith's Pro Day and based on that discussion I was told to expect this kind of performance.

"He's not going to be strong, but on the field he's powerful," the scout said.

"And no matter what you do, he's not going to look pretty," the scout added, noting he wasn't going to have the prototype body of a Jake Long.

The scout said the Raiders, however, would be crazy to pass on Smith if were to fall to them in the draft because he's shown on the field that he's a dominant player that is rarely knocked off his feet.

"He'd struggle early but he could be their starting right tackle as a rookie," my anonymous scout said.

The Raiders still haven't fully addressed their needs at tackle. Perhaps the team will sign Orlando Pace or make a stronger play for Marvel Smith.

If that hasn't happened by late April, Smith could be there for the taking.

S Rashad Baker signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, officially making the trio of Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch and Hiram Eugene the Raiders' safeties.

Here's a quick summary of the group:

*Huff was the seventh overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was miscast as a strong safety for two seasons before moving to free safety in 2008. He was benched after five games and finished the year with most of his gameday work coming on special teams. Huff was told poor tackling was why he lost his job.

*Branch would have been the team's kickoff returner to start the season if not for a broken thumb in the preseason. Branch only returned six kickoffs as a rookie before being lost for the season because of shoulder injury suffered returning a kick against Atlanta.

*Eugene replaced Stuart Schweigert as the starting free safety in 2007. Eugene became a backup to Huff in 2008 before eventually replacing him. He was in upgrade in that he didn't make some of the glaring mistakes Huff made tackling.

The Raiders could use another safety considering they basically have three free safeties (Branch was the backup SS last year, but he can play free, too).

I know a lot of you want Roy Williams to fill that role but at this stage of his career he might be better off as a linebacker to limit his responsibilities in pass coverage.

To be honest, the Raiders could use LB Jon Alston in the role Williams would have on the defense. It's not uncommon to see Alston taking some reps as a safety during pregame drills.

Got the word a few of the Raiders wanted to send their best to the family of Marquis Cooper and let them know they were on their minds. Today is Cooper's birthday.

--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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