@cplach Hargrave can play both DE and NT, and we also picked up Mathews from the Chargers. Both are vast improvements over Cam Thomas and Cliff Geathers. As for RB I agree that we're going to need some depth there, maybe rounds 3-5.
QB Jason Campbell, RB Michael Bennett, RB Rock Cartwright, G Daniel Loper, NT John Henderson, DE/OLB Quentin Groves, OLB Kamerion Wimbley.
Early Draft Picks:
ILB Rolando McClain, DT Lamarr Houston, OT Jared Veldheer, OT/G Bruce Campbell, WR/KR Jacoby Ford, CB Walter McFadden, ILB Travis Goethel.
QB JaMarcus "Captain Skittles" Russell, RB Justin Fargas, FB Gary Russell, OT Cornell Green, DE Greg Ellis, NT Gerard Warren, OLB Jon Alston, ILB Kirk Morrison, ILB Isaiah Ekejiuba.
2010 Oakland Raiders Offense:
For the first time in years, no one can make fun of Al Davis' offseason antics. It's truly a sad day for WalterFootball.com. The Raiders somehow actually look like they have some sort of plan for the first time since they went to the Super Bowl following the 2002 regular season.
The big move was getting rid of JaMarcus "Captain Skittles" Russell. Russell, a fat, stupid, lazy sloth, showed no desire to become a successful quarterback in the NFL, opting instead to fall asleep in team meetings and eat Skittles on the sideline. When Captain Skittles was under center last year, the Raiders showed no will or emotion. When someone else was playing quarterback (namely Bruce Gradkowski), the team put forth a ton of effort, beating the Bengals and Steelers toward the end of the season.
Gradkowski suffered a chest injury in April to go along with his season-ending knee injury, forcing Oakland's front office to trade for Jason Campbell. The strong-armed Campbell certainly has his warts (intermediate accuracy, leadership), but has shown improvement in every single NFL season. Campbell's strong work ethic is exactly what the Raiders need in the wake of the Captain Skittles disaster.
Another positive sign is that Michael Bush has seemingly overtaken Al Davis pet project Darren McFadden as the team's starting running back. McFadden is injury-prone and cannot break any tackles, while Bush has been the most effective runner for the Raiders over the past two years. Bush averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year, completely out-performing the departed Justin Fargas (3.8 YPC) and McFadden (3.4).
Bush's 4.8 average is amazing considering how pitiful the offensive line was last year. Oakland's front surrendered 49 sacks, as left tackle Mario Henderson and guard Chris Morris looked like a pair of fat middle-schoolers. Right tackle Cornell Green's 13 penalties didn't help either.
There is cause for optimism regarding the front line. Henderson is still there, but Morris likely won't have a chance to ruin Jason Campbell's career because Robert Gallery will be back from his injury-plagued 2009 campaign. Right guard Cooper Carlisle and center Samson Satele are both solid, while rookies Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell will fight for playing time at the two tackle positions. Oakland will hope that one of the two will emerge to displace Henderson or Khalif Barnes.
If the line improves - and with Gallery back, it certainly should - Campbell will piece together a solid season. He has underrated weapons; Zach Miller is one of the top tight ends in the NFL, while Chaz Schilens is a very solid receiver who will shine with a legitimate quarterback. Darrius Heyward-Bey shockingly has shown improvement in minicamps.
2010 Oakland Raiders Defense:
Oakland's defense is a bit of an enigma right now. The front office spent the offseason acquiring 3-4 specialists like Kamerion Wimbley, Quentin Groves and No. 8 overall pick Rolando McClain to go along with Richard Seymour and Trevor Scott, so a change of scheme seemed like a natural move. However, there has been no other indication that the Raiders plan on shifting to a 3-4, and if they do, they had absolutely no nose tackle prior to signing John Henderson in mid-June.
Assuming the Raiders stick to the 4-3, Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy will man the two defensive end positions. Seymour is an overrated player who offers no pass rush (two sacks following the 2009 opener), but is still stout versus the run. Shaughnessy, meanwhile, tallied four sacks as a rookie despite not seeing extensive action until Week 8. On passing downs, Seymour will once again kick inside, allowing Trevor Scott to rush the passer. Scott led the Raiders with seven sacks last year.
In normal situations, Scott will line up as the weakside linebacker where he excelled at the end of the 2009 campaign. Wimbley, meanwhile, will be at the strongside position. This is a perplexing move, considering that Wimbley absolutely sucks against the run and isn't very good in coverage. McClain, also playing in an unfamiliar scheme, will take over for the traded Kirk Morrison in the middle.
The strength of Oakland's defense is undoubtedly the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha, the second-best corner in the NFL (Darrelle Revis), wasn't at the top of his game last year because of injuries. He'll be better in 2010. Safeties Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff, meanwhile, will look to maintain the tremendous play they showcased last season. Corner Chris Johnson is usually good in coverage, but is penalized far too often (eight penalties in 2009).
The one area of concern here is corner depth; nickel Stanford Routt was torched far too often last year, and was curiously rewarded with a 1-year, $3.2 million contract. One of Al Davis' unsacrificed virgins must have written that one up. Rookie Walter McFadden could easily overtake Routt during training camp.
The Raiders' greatest defensive weakness was the interior of their defensive line prior to the Henderson signing. Tommy Kelly is a marginal player, but has always been a liability against the run. It's a good thing then that Henderson was added; he's not a pass-rusher in the slightest, but is very effective at clogging running lanes. Second-round rookie Lamarr Houston will also compete for playing time.
2010 Oakland Raiders Schedule and Intangibles:
The Black Hole seems like an intimidating place to play, but the Raiders are a sub-.500 team (55-65) as hosts since 1995. They're 5-11 at home the past two years.
Sebastian Janikowski just signed a 4-year, $16 million contract, so he better pick up where he left off in 2009; Janikowski was 26-of-29 overall, including 9-of-10 from 40-49 and 6-of-8 from 50-plus.
Though former teammate Terdell Sands punched him in the face, Shane Lechler is the best punter in the NFL. He averaged an amazing 51.1 yards per kick, which includes 30-of-96 punts inside the opponents' 20.
Despite all of the great 40 times on the roster, the Raiders struggled on punt and kick returns. They'll hope speedy rookie Jacoby Ford can help in this department.
The Raiders have a pretty manageable schedule. Their only truly taxing games are against the Titans (road; Week 1), Texans (home; Week 4), Chargers twice (Weeks 5, 13), Steelers (road; Week 11), Dolphins (home; Week 12) and Colts (home; Week 16).
2010 Oakland Raiders Analysis: The Raiders had just five victories in 2009, but four of those wins were very impressive. They managed to beat the Eagles, Steelers, Bengals and Broncos, all of whom finished 8-8 or better. That just proved that they had the talent; it was the effort that was lacking. JaMarcus Russell's lethargic attitude spread throughout the team, and there was just no sense of urgency when they battled lesser foes.
Oakland's greatest move since 2002 was cutting Russell. The Raiders haven't won more than five games in seven years, but with some stability at quarterback, that should finally change.
Is this real? No, it can't be... can it? Did the Raiders just draft well? I'm shocked.
I don't know what happened. Maybe Al Davis isn't making the picks anymore. Perhaps he was so embarrassed by the backlash of the 2009 NFL Draft that he delegated the decision-making to others in his front office. Or maybe, as some e-mailers pointed out, the first two days started too late that Davis was asleep for the first three rounds.
Whatever it is, it definitely worked, and Raider fans have to be thrilled right now.
First and foremost, the JaMarcus "Do ya tink so?" Russell era is over. Jason Campbell was acquired for a mere 2012 fourth-round pick. The Raiders have talent on their roster - as proven when they beat the Eagles, Steelers and Bengals last year - but were just lacking stability at quarterback. That's certainly not the case anymore.
To protect Campbell, Oakland drafted two very athletic tackles, Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell. Lamarr Houston was a very good second-round selection, and while I wasn't particularly fond of Rolando McClain being the first inside linebacker chosen in the top eight since the early 1990s, there's no denying his physical ability.
Can the Raiders actually make a playoff run in 2010? This notion would have been laughable in early April. Now, it's definitely a possibility.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
8. Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
The Raiders needed a quarterback and a left tackle. They drafted an inside linebacker? Rolando McClain is the first inside linebacker drafted in the top eight in more than 15 years. McClain is a talented player, but this pick doesn't make any sense from a value or need standpoint. (I thought about it more, and I shouldn't have given this a Millen grade; only because McClain is a good player.) (Pick Grade: D)
44. Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas
First, the Raiders move down. Then, they don't take a workout warrior? Al Davis isn't making these picks. Lamarr Houston is a very good prospect at this spot and fills a need. Great selection. (Pick Grade: A)
69. Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale
It's about time the Raiders drafted a left tackle. Jared Veldheer is a high-upside, athletic offensive tackle who fits the range and fills a need. (Pick Grade: A)
106. Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
It finally happened. I guess Al Davis is making these picks again. If Bruce Campbell is coached up, he can be an elite left tackle. He's very physically gifted. Unfortunately, he also has a huge bust rate. Incredible value pick. (Pick Grade: A)
108. Jacoby Ford, WR/KR, Clemson
Yep. Al Davis is definitely making these picks again. Jacoby Ford is a lightning-fast receiver who should help the Raiders improve their anemic return game. Oakland's making some really nice selections. (Pick Grade: A)
138. Walter McFadden, CB, Auburn
The Raiders are getting a Round 3-4 prospect in the fifth round. He runs a quick 40 (shocker), but they're filling a need. (Pick Grade: B)
190. Travis Goethel, ILB, Arizona State
Another inside linebacker. Travis Goethel is solid value here. (Pick Grade: B)
215. Jeremy Ware, CB, Michigan State
A short corner (5-10), Jeremy Ware wasn't expected to be drafted. No such thing as a reach in Round 7 though. (Pick Grade: C)
251. Stevie Brown, S, Michigan
The third defensive back drafted on Day 3. Think the Raiders are tired of losing to Philip Rivers? (Pick Grade: B)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Manase Tonga, FB, BYU
The bad news is that the Raiders just suffered their seventh-consecutive losing season. The good news is that it appears as though Al Davis doesn't think JaMarcus Russell is a "great player" anymore; if he did, he would have fired Tom Cable for insulting Captain Skittles. Bruce Gradkowski will probably be the starting quarterback next year, which gives Oakland fans some hope because the Raiders were 2-1 in games that Gradkowski both started and finished.
Broncos sign RB Justin Fargas
Raiders sign QB Colt Brennan
Raiders waive ILB Isiah Ekejiuba
Raiders re-sign DE Richard Seymour
Raiders sign NT John Henderson
Raiders sign G Daniel Loper
Raiders cut QB JaMarcus "Captain Skittles" Russell
Raiders sign RB Michael Bennett
Raiders re-sign CB Stanford Routt
Raiders waive FB Oren O'Neal
Raiders sign RB Rock Cartwright
Raiders acquire QB Jason Campbell from Redskins for 2012 4th-round pick
Jaguars acquire ILB Kirk Morrison from Raiders for 4th-round pick
Patriots sign DE/DT Gerard Warren
Raiders acquire DE Quentin Groves from Jaguars for a 5th-round pick
Raiders re-sign OLB Thomas Howard
Raiders sign QB Kyle Boller
Raiders re-sign ILB Kirk Morrison
Raiders re-sign S Hiram Eugene
Raiders re-sign FB Luke Lawton
Raiders re-sign OLB Ricky Brown
Raiders re-sign DT William Joseph
Raiders re-sign C Chris Morris
Raiders re-sign QB Bruce Gradkowski
Raiders re-sign QB Charlie Frye
Raiders acquire DE Kamerion Wimbley from Browns for 2010 3rd-rounder
Buccaneers sign OLB Jon Alston
Raiders cut NT Gerard Warren
Raiders cut WR Javon Walker
Raiders cut DE Greg Ellis
Bills sign OT Cornell Green
Raiders cut RB Justin Fargas
Raiders re-sign OT Khalif Barnes
Raiders tender CB Stanford Routt
Raiders franchise DE Richard Seymour
Raiders re-sign K Sebastian Janikowski
General Manager: "JaMarcus Russell... is a... great player..." That says it all. Al Davis spends too much time focusing on athleticism and 40 times. For the sake of the Raiders organization and all of its fans, Undead Al needs to relinquish all personnel duties and hire a competent general manager. Raiders drafted well?
Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski is light years ahead of JaMarcus Russell, but neither guy is a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, this need won't be addressed this offseason. Traded for Jason Campbell; signed Kyle Boller
Left Tackle: Mario Henderson is one of the worst starting left tackles in the NFL and desperately needs to be upgraded. Bruce Campbell's 40 time means that he'll probably be chosen at No. 8 overall. Drafted Jared Veldheer
Nose Tackle: An upgrade is needed over 32-year-old Gerard Warren. A Round 2-4 selection will be used here. Signed John Henderson; drafted Lamarr Houston
Right Tackle: Does Cornell Green get paid by the penalty, or something? In the past three years, he has been whistled for 28 penalties! A mid-round pick could be used to remedy this need. Drafted Bruce Campbell
Cornerback: After a solid 2008 campaign, Chris Johnson struggled across from Nnamdi Asomugha last season. Stanford Routt was even worse. The Raiders will be looking for a corner relatively early in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Guard Depth: Robert Gallery is coming off back surgery, while Cooper Carlisle turns 33 in August. Depth is needed at the position. Al Davis may draft Marshall Newhouse, a big guard with a fast 40 time, in Rounds 2-4.
Return Specialist: The Raiders averaged 18.2 yards on kickoff returns and just 4.9 yards on punt returns. You'd think Oakland would be better in this department with all of those fast 40 guys. Drafted Jacoby Ford
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
John Henderson, NT, Jaguars. Age: 31. Signed with Raiders (1 year)
Capable of playing in both the 4-3 and 3-4, John Henderson is stout against the run. He was released by the Jaguars because they couldn't afford to pay him.
Daniel Loper, G, Lions. Age: 28. -- Signed with Raiders
Michael Bennett, RB, Chargers. Age: 32. -- Signed with Raiders
Rock Cartwright, RB/KR, Redskins. Age: 30. -- Signed with Raiders
Kyle Boller, QB, Rams. Age: 29. -- Signed with Raiders
Oakland Raiders Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Jan. 16): No cap.
Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. Age: 32. Re-signed with Raiders (4 years, $16 million)
Sebastian Janikowski nailed 24-of-27 field goal attempts in 2009, including a whopping 6-of-8 from 50-plus. Kind of makes you wonder how all of those teams in the first round passed on him before he fell to Al Davis.
Kirk Morrison (RFA), ILB, Raiders. Age: 28. Traded to Jaguars
Kirk Morrison has at least 116 tackles in each of his five NFL seasons. He's a dynamic force against the run.
Richard Seymour, DE/DT, Raiders. Age: 30. Re-signed with Raiders (1 year, $12.3 million)
Aside from the Monday night opener and an upset over the Eagles, Richard Seymour was just above average in 2009. He plays great when he's motivated, but those games are far and few between.
Bruce Gradkowski (RFA), QB, Raiders. Age: 27. Re-signed with Raiders (1 year, $1.7 million)
Bruce Gradkowski shockingly played well in his four starts this season. He was great in leading multiple fourth-quarter scoring drives in an upset at Pittsburgh, where he was 20-of-33 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Gradkowski doesn't have a starter's arm, but he's accurate, decisive and mobile. Save for the latter, JaMarcus Russell lacks those traits.
Ricky Brown (RFA), OLB, Raiders. Age: 26. Tendered by Raiders (2nd round)
Played in only five games because of an ankle injury. The Raiders will be glad to have Ricky Brown back in the lineup next year.
Thomas Howard (RFA), OLB, Raiders. Age: 27. Re-signed with Raiders (1 year, $1.7 million)
Thomas Howard moved to strongside linebacker toward the end of the season, which masked his weakness in coverage.
Greg Ellis, DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 35.
Greg Ellis had seven sacks last year, but he'll be 35 in August. The tank's nearing empty.
JaMarcus "Captain Skittles" Russell, QB, Raiders. Age: 25.
The greatest bust in NFL Draft history, Captain Skittles is fat, lazy and stupid. He has great physical talent, but would rather fall asleep in team meetings and eat Skittles on the sidelines rather than become a great quarterback. With the right coaching, perhaps Russell could reach his potential. But by "right coaching," I'm talking Bill Walsh x 5 billion.
Divisional Rival History: Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan owned Al Davis. Maybe Davis shouldn't have fired Shanahan in 1989. Oops. The Broncos had won 17 of the past 23 meetings, but Denver also fired Shanahan. Oops. The teams split their series in 2009. Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City has dominated Oakland the past six years, claiming 11 of the past 14 games. Also note that the road team has won the previous seven meetings. San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have won the previous 13 meetings. That number will increase to 15 in the near future.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)