Hello Raider Nation!
I will be making a thread of background information of the new players the Raiders acquired (draft, trade, and free agency), as well as some of my input. I made this for those who may not be familiar with all of the new players the team acquired. I will go through all of the Raiders' draft picks, main free agent signings, and some undrafted free agents who I think have a shot of making the team and making an impact.
So let's start things off with the first free agent signed:
Name: Kaluka Maiava
Position: Will Linbacker/Strongside Linebacker
Scheme: 3-4 ILB, 4-3 OLB
2009 Rose Bowl Defensive MVP
2005-06 USC Special Teams Player of the Year
Draft Status: Picked 104 (fourth round) in the 2009 NFL draft
Contract: 3 years, $6 million
Maiava started 13 games last season for Cleveland with 30 solo tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed. Maiava has played 50 games over four seasons with the Browns. For the bulk of his career, Maiavia has been a two down linebacker and one of the top special teamers in the league. His ST play will be huge for us, considering how horrible we were in that regard last season. Not only that, but he has proven himself to be a capable run blocker, as he has had the ability to shed blocks and get around larger players to stuff the run. Maiavia generally shows good technique, however he tends to bite on play fakes and needs to work on keeping his pad level down. Last season, Kaluka was asked to be the Browns starting WLB and played well, which earned him a positive grade by Pro Football Focus. Over his career, he has not been known as a proven coverage LB, but last year he showed improvement in coverage, but not on the level of other LBs. Another pro is his pursuit. Maiavia is an example of the hard working players Reggie is trying to bring in. For example, against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, RB Lesean McCoy had gotten past the DL and was heading for the secondary. Maiavia missed a tackle in the process, but got back up and used his pursuit skills to bring down Shady and stopped a potentially huge run for Philly.
Kaluka may not be a major factor, but his run defense skills and ethic give him a shot at starting at any of the three linebacker positions due to his versatility. He could even be featured in some 3-4 looks set up by coach Tarver. He will be a major factor on special teams and will add to the Raiders improved LB rotation.
Fun Fact: He is the nephew of Duane "The Rock" Johnson
Next Player, our first round pick
Name: DJ Hayden
First-team All-C-USA (2012)
Weight: 190 lb
Draft status: selected in round 1 (12) in 2013 NFL Draft
Who hasn't heard of Hayden's miracle story? Well if you haven't already, here you go:
It's a miracle.
Now on to the football side. The Hayden pick was a surprise to some, including me. It was reported that the Raiders were very interested in Hayden a few days before the draft. However, with both Floyd and Star available, I was sure Reggie would pick a DL. Instead he took his favorite prospect, DJ Hayden. He is a beast on tape, and a playmaker. He ran a blazing 4.33 forty at his pro day, showing his athletic ability. Once Hayden was medically cleared, Mike Mayock of NFL.Com stated that Hayden was indeed the best CB prospect in the draft. Like all prospects, time to evaluate his game.
His quickness allows him to excel in man coverage on the outside as well as in the slot. He has very fluid coverage, and does not give up his position. He has great awareness and can halt to a stop when needed. He is very tough and fights for 50-50 balls like it's nothing. He is a solid tackler who can wrap up. He also does a good job of avoiding blocks. Also his speed allows blind side blitzing opportunities. He has a strong knack for knocking the ball away.
He did not play against elite competition at Houston. That doesn't necessarily mean he is bad, but he may not be used to covering NFL receivers. Just average size and strength could hurt him and give him a disadvantage against bigger receivers. His life threatening injury seems to make people skeptical about his health.
Conclusion: Hayden has the potential to reach the level of Darrelle Revis and he's got a lot to prove. He feels he is ready to play and should make our secondary solid, especially compared to last years...
That's it for today, the series will continue! Stay tuned and go raiders!
Hello again Raider Nation!
Next, let's do the new guy in town, the man Reggie Traded for
Name: Matt Flynn
Scheme: West Coast Offense
Most passing yards in a single game in Packers history (480)
Most passing touchdowns in a single game in Packers history (6)
Super Bowl Champion (XLV)
BCS National Championship Offensive MVP (2008)
Draft Status: Picked 209 (seventh round) in the 2008 NFL draft
Trade: Seahawks trade Flynn to the Raiders for a 2014 5th round pick and a conditional 2015 draft pick.
Contract: 2 years, $11.5 million
When Matt Flynn was brought in, mixed feelings came all across Raider Nation. Some were happy to bring him in, others were not. I was fine with it, we gave up little and a cheaper option than Palmer
Matt Flynn has been a backup to Aaron Rodgers throughout the majority of his career, but he turned some heads in a 480 yard, 6 touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions in 2011. The Seahawks liked what they saw, and gave him a 3 year deal worth $19.5M. Just when Flynn thought he would finally be given a chance to start, the seahawks drafted QB Russell Wilson in the third round, and we all know what happened from there. However, it isn't because Flynn under performed, Wilson was a pro bowler and a rookie sensation. Flynn comes from a successful background as he won the 2007 BCS game, 2011 Super Bowl and has played for a playoff team every year of his career. The Raiders are hoping Flynn brings some of that winning leadership and atmosphere to Oakland. He has just started two games, but in those two starts he has thrown a combined 9 touchdowns and 731 yards and a QB rating of 123. Statistically, that is very impressive. But let's not forget those games were against the Lions and Patriots defense, and he had stud receivers to throw the ball to. For those of you who want to see the plays themselves, here you go:
First Start VS Pats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_C8F0cWvAfo
Second start VS Lions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adud3fLmUJ8
To analyse his game, he is very good at reading defenses and decision making. However, he has an average arm, meaning that his skills are best utilized in a west coast offense, which is what Oakland runs. It's hard to examine Flynn's play in just two games, but he has potential to be a very good QB in the right system, with enough talent around him. One thing I noticed about Flynn, is his mobility is above average. He has good statue presence and can step up into the pocket, and elude pressure when necessary. I also noticed he likes to hold on to the ball a lot, which can either be smart, or harmful. However, his instincts are good. To see another analysis of his game:
Another thing to add is his familiarity with GM Reggie McKenzie. Reggie McKenzie was the man who originally drafted Matt Flynn, back in Green Bay. He has known him for years, and saw him in practice every day, so he probably knows more about him than anyone one else. If Reggie was that impressed with Flynn that he was willing to trade draft picks for him, that may be a good sign.
Conclusion: Matt Flynn is unproven and unknown. However, Reggie has seen him throughout most of his career, the starting job this season is his to lose. This is a make or break year for Matt Flynn to prove if he can be a starting NFL QB.
Now another one of Reggie's first signings:
Name: Jason Hunter
Position: Pass Rush
Scheme: 4-3 DE/3-4 OLB
First-team All-SoCon (2005)
Second-team I-AA All American (2005)
Weight: 271 lb
Draft Status: Undrafted in 2006
College: Appalachian State
Career Stats: 148 tackles, 11 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception, 6 pass deflections
Best Season: 2009, 14 games (9 starts) 34 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 2 fumble recoveries
Contract: One year, $715k
Hunter may be the only player on the team who is familiar with both head coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie. He was signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2006 as an UDFA. McKenzie at the time the director of player personnel. McKenzie must have been intrigued by Hunter's pass rush ability as he racked up 24 sacks over 50 career games in college. Not to mention he ran a blazing 4.5 40 (for a DE) coming out of college. Hunter worked hard enough and impressed McKenzie enough to earn him a roster spot after camp. Hunter was extremely key to the Green Bay packers special teams throughout his years there, meaning he could have the same contribution for Oakland. His two biggest plays as a packer were his onside kick recovery and his 55 yard fumble return for a TD vs the Chicago Bears. Hunter has a knack for fumble recoveries, as he has 6 for his career, including one of 75 yards in 2010. After Hunter left GB, he signed with the Detroit Lions, and became a starter at DE. He was praised for his high motor and disruptiveness, yet he was surprisingly not retained the following season, after having his best so far. He then went on to sign with the Denver Broncos, where he first met coach Dennis Allen, who has the Broncos DC at the time. This is where DA moved him to OLB, in the Donkey's 3-4 base defense. DA must have liked his speed on the edge. Hunter said it was his first time ever playing LB, but he played well. He also stated he would have to work hard every day to adjust, showing how he is one of the hard working guys RM and DA like. In his first season as OLB, he put up 61 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections, and 9 stuffs. He was once again a key part of ST as well. The following year his play dipped, and he unfortunately sat out all of last year he sat out with injury. He know is back, and has something to prove. His familiarity with DA and RM, along with his work ethic, and pass rush ability (an area where we were very thin at) got him a deal done.
Conclusion: Expect him to be a key member of special teams and a rotational DE and OLB for us and a situational pass rusher. His versatility along with the versatility of other players allows us to play a multi front defense.
On a non-football related note, Hunter was stabbed before going to Denver. This was just another challenge overcome by Hunter, to find out more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwXbd8Ko-jY
Now to talk about another Raiders draft pick:
Name: Sio Moore
Scheme: Any (he's that good)
First team all big east (2012)
Height: 6' 1
Draft Status: picked 66 (3rd round) in the 2013 NFL Draft
College Stats: 41 games(31 starts) 274 tackles, 16 sacks, 44 tackles for lost, 4 interceptions
Contract: 4 years, $3 million
One of the biggest sleepers in the draft. Just to start of with some personal information about Sio, he was born in Liberia, Africa and grew up in Connecticut before moving to North Carolina and going to high school there. His full name is Snorsio, meaning "god is the greatest". According to him, it is a name of heaviness and great purpose. When Sio was drafted by the Raiders he made the bold claim that he was the best linebacker in the draft and that Oakland was the perfect fit for him. In his own words: The thing with me is I was a guy that was overlooked and you know, I had to work my tail off each and every way in everything that I have to this day," said Moore. "Everything I do, I do with juice. I was glad [the Raiders] picked me up because I know that was the right fit. They know me and they didn't need to do the interview process and all those things. Like I said from the beginning of this whole draft process, there's going to be one team that's going to fall in love and make the right pick and there's going to be 31 other teams that are going to be pissed off. The Oakland Raiders got the best linebacker in the draft, I don't care who went before." Sio is correct that he was overlooked in the draft and that he has a great work ethic. He may very well be the most complete LB in the draft and the sky is the limit for him. He can cover, hit, run defend, and pass rush. He's the complete package. Linebacker was not a need for Oakland, but Sio Moore was to good to pass up for the Raiders. Mike Mayock of NFL.Com said it best: "When I say trust the process, the process means East-West, combine, pro day. He excelled in all those. Coaches love that he'll line up on the slot, inside and cover man to man. He came from nowhere, but because of his work ethic, he's now a third-round pick. With the Raiders, this is a solid double." Sio Moore has been dubbed a work out warrior, what remains to be seen is how that will translate on the football field, his versatility is huge, as he can play any LB position. For some evaluation:
- Disciplined LB who understands his assignments and responsibilities
- Maintains his gap, prevents cutbacks
- Solid tackler, can hit and wrap up effectively, doesn't give up extra yards
- Great agility and coverage, can cover Tight Ends and large Wide Receivers, jumps slants and wins 50-50 balls, has decent hands to pick off balls, can make plays on the outside
- good combination of size and speed
- Average closing speed, won't be an elite play maker
- Needs to shed blocks better
Conclusion: Sio will bring intensity and passion to the football team. He is another hard worker and a leader who RM and DA are very fond off. He has a huge chance of starting for us at any LB position in 2013 and for years to come. His athleticism and versatility is huge, as he can play any LB position in any scheme, including Mike Linebacker, as well as Rush line backer. He could turn out to be a steal in the third round.
Here are some highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvnFHgq2pS8
Time to do the Rolando McClain replacement, the man in the middle
Name: Nick Roach
Scheme: 3-4 Mike, Will/4-3 LB
Academic All Big Ten (2006)
Brian Piccolo Award (2012)
Draft Status: Undrafted in 2007
Career Stats: 80 games(59 starts), 234 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 14 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Best Season: 2009, 16 games (15 starts), 75 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 pass deflections, one fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss
Contract: 4 years, 13 million
Nick Roach was a star at Northwestern, leading the team in tackles his senior year, despite playing in only 8 games and was named team MVP. He played Will Linebacker and was considered one of the most underrated linebackers. However, he suffered a broken leg injury his senior season, ending his college football career. After going on drafted, he signed with the San Diego Chargers and was added to the practice squad. The Chicago Bears took a chance and signed him, adding him to their 53 man roster. As a rookie he failed to contribute much, but the team knew the potential was there. By his sophmore year, he became the Bears starting WLB and has stayed there since, playing in a LB corp featuring Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. However, this past season, Urlacher was not playing well and had injuries, the team called for Nick Roach to become the new starting Middle Linebacker. He rose to the occasion, and became known as Urlacher's replacement in Chicago. He racked up 46 tackles, in six games as the starting Mike Linebacker. The position Dennis Allen confirmed he will playing for the Raiders in 2013. Roach, was known as a great teammate in Chicago, as he was awarded the Brian Piccolo award by his teammates. It is a prestigous award given to a Chicago Bears who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo. Piccolo was a running back for the Chicago Bears from 1966 until his untimely death from embryonic cell carcinoma on June 16, 1970, at age 26. The Raiders hope he can bring the same spirit and hard work to Oakland, and hope that it rubs off on the other players. Head Coach Allen, is very high on Roach and has said some great things about him, including referring to him as the "quarterback" of the defense. To sum things up, Allen loves Nick Roach, to know more:
Nick Roach will become the new starting Middle Linebacker for the Raiders. He will bring energy and leadership to the team. He is currently in great terms with the coaching staff, so Raider Nation can expect to see big things from him in the future. Roach was given a four year deal by Oakland and will work hard to be the star linebacker Rolando McClain never was.
Now I will do our new defensive tackles, starting with the first one we signed
Name: Pat Sims
Position: Defensive Tackle
Scheme: 3-4 Nose Tackle/4-3 Defensive Tackle
First Team All SEC (2007)
Weight: 335 lb
Draft Status: picked 77 (round 3) in the 2008 NFL Draft
Career Stats: 60 games(33 starts), 138 tackles, 5 sacks, one fumble recovery, 8 tackles for loss, 2 pass deflections
Best Season: 2010, 14 games(8 starts), 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 2 tackles for loss
Contract: One year, $1.5 million
For years in Cincinnati, Pat Sims was known as the teams best run stuffer, and was a key part of the defensive rotation and at times looked like the teams best interior lineman. However, injuries have affected him greatly throughout his career. Many have said that if Sims could have stayed healthy, he would have started over Peko. Part of the reason he was a rotational player, was because the team didn't want to risk injury. Whenever Sims was hurt, his presence in the run game was greatly lacked and the team and fans could tell, which is why fans were upset to see him go. After starting the 2012 season on the PUP list, he made immediate impact when he came back, getting his first interception in his first game back. Sims has missed 20 regular season games throughout his career, with injuries such as broken forearm, knee surgery, damaged ligaments in ankle, and hamstring woes. For most of his career Sims has been known as a one dimensional run stopper, a job he is very good at. However, now he is given his opportunity to start, and will prove to scouts every where that he is more than a one trick pony. The Raiders run defense was porous last year (Tampa Bay game, Miami game come to mind...) and Sims will fill a role, but know he is being asked to do more. The only thing stopping him from doing so is injuries. It was reported that Cincy offered Sims the same deal Oakland did in free agency (https://twitter.com/GeoffHobsonCin/status/311975297027284992), but he chose to sign with the Raiders because he wants to prove he can be a starter.
Injury concerns have been an issue for Sims, but he has made a name for himself as one of the better run stuffers in the NFL. Sims still has great upside, and is looking to prove he can be an NFL starter. McKenzie may be rolling the dice here, but if Sims rises to occasion, he can be a very good player. Reggie McKenzie was smart to sign Sims to a one year "prove it" deal, in case the experiment fails. If it succeeds, RM has all the cap space in 2014 ( estimated 70 million) to bring him back at a deserved price.
Now the other DT...
First off, how awesome is it seeing him sack Peyton? Hope he can do it for us :)
Name: Vance Walker
Position: Defensive Tackle
Scheme: 3-4 DL/4-3 DT
2 time First Team All ACC (2007, 2008)
Third Team AP All American (2007)
Weight: 304 lb
Draft Status: picked 210 (round 7) in 2009 NFL Draft
College: Georgia Tech
Career Stats: 58 games (11 starts), 79 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass deflections, 8 tackles for loss
Best Season: 2012, 16 games(9 starts) 32 tackles, 3 sacks, one forced fumble, 2 tackles for loss
Contract: One year, 2 million
Vance Walker was a force at Georgia Tech and one of the top defensive tackles in college football. However, he injured his ankle in a game against North Carolina, which led to a bad senior bowl performance and he struggled in the practices. That mixed with a poor combine made him fall in the draft. But it was a shocker to many that he was available in the seventh for the Falcons to take, as he once was considered a second to mid round prospect. It did not take him long to out perform his teammate Peria Jerry, the team's first round selection in that same draft class. Walker still has a ton of potential and has been a great run stuffer for the Falcons. For most of his career, he was used as a rotational player in Atlanta, but last season he battled for a starting job and succeeded. Starting nine games, not only did he continue his reputation as an efficient run stopper, but he showed flashes of pass rushing ability (5 sacks over past two seasons). He also showed his athleticism and ability to keep up with the NFL's modern mobile quarterbacks, sacking Cam Newton twice(http://tinyurl.com/q9kceno), as well as sacking Russell Wilson in the playoffs(http://tinyurl.com/ofeymf5). Another nifty move by Walker, was once again against the Panthers where he was pushed around Cam Newton, but used his arms to knock the ball lose (http://tinyurl.com/oafnxea). these plays show that Vance also has pass rush ability, something he has not proven yet in the NFL, but he has room to grow to make his mark and he will be happy to show he can be a starting caliber NFL player, similar to what Pat Sims is doing. Vance Walker was asked to start last year and he played well, now he will be asked to start a full season and he must prove he can rise to the occasion. He at times looked like the Falcons best DT and has a high ceiling. Falcons fan were angry to see him go, his run defense will be missed.
Vance Walker has all the tools and potential to become an elite NFL DT. Like Sims, Walker was given a one year "prove it" deal to show he can be an everyday starter in the NFL. Few players are better at stopping the run and his bull rush, rip, and swim moves are effective and he will complement playing with Sims and Houston on the DL. Together, they should be able to open up holes for the LBs and make our run defense much better than last years group. If Walker can reach his potential, RM has more than enough cap next year to give him a long term deal so us fans don't have to see another Philip Wheeler episode.
Fan Reaction: Just to show how mad Atlanta fans were about seeing him go...
"but this is fucking bullshit!!! We’ve struggled to develop D-linemen for quite a while. The ONE guy we’ve been able to develop we let walk away? So now we have a 32 yr old starter and a 29 yr old bust who hasn’t done shit except suck up Gatorade on the sidelines and hoard cheesburgers under his pads. Oakland has less cap space than us, so you know Walker signed for next to nothing. I don’t know how anyone can look at Jerry compared to Walker and honestly say the he is more deserving of a roster spot. There is really no fucking excuse for this!! It just goes to show: on this team, if you are a 1st rounder, the FO will always believe in you no matter how bad you struggle"-leonw92
Another rookie, can he be the franchise QB?
Name: Tyler Wilson
Scheme: West Coast
SEC Community Service Team (2012)
Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP (2012)
First-team All-SEC (2011)
SEC Offensive Player of the Week (Weeks 5 & 12, 2011)
Draft status: picked 112 (round 4) in the 2013 NFL Draft
Ok so who hasn't heard about Tyler Wilson? Well just to give you some background info, he was a two sport athlete in high school. Ranked the number 9 pro-style QB in the nation as well as winning the 2007-08 Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball. Wilson has lived in Arkansas all his life, so moving to California is new for him, but I'm sure all of us hopes he can stay here for a a while. So he was named the teams starting QB in 2011 (his fourthy year in college) and led the team to an 11 win season (tied for most in team history) He was named ﬁrst-team All-SEC by the AP and coaches, which made him the ﬁrst Razorback in school history to be named ﬁrst-team All-SEC quarterback and broke all kinds of school records. He currently holds 29 Arkansas records,which include pretty much every major stat for QBs. One of his best games of the season was against Mississippi State (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9cAm-FJ8Eo) where he broke the school record in passing completions with 32 (previous record stood for 40 years) in a 44-17 win. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the week for his efforts. His best game of the season was in a 42-38 come from behind victory against number 14 seed Texas A&M (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-6mYMb0EG4). He finished the game with a school record 510 passing yards, 30/51 completion rate(59%), with 3 touchdowns. This was just the fifth time in SEC history a player threw for 500 yards and the first time since 2001. All in all, his first starting season was strong. He was a finalist for the Manning Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, as well as a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award. His season was so strong that he was projected to be the first overall pick in the 2013 draft by Sports Illustrated. That's right the number one pick. Unfortunately for Wilson, the team fell apart in 2012. Their head coach Bobby Petrino was fired due to an improper relationship with a 25 year old woman (which he denied) and the team hired John L. Smith, previously of Michigan State, who is famous for his meltdowns. The team went just 4-8 and Wilson's stats declined. However the talent was still there, breaking the school record with five 350 yard passing games and was once again a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm trophy. His best game of in a 49-7 victory over Kentucky, where he tied the Arkansas single-game record with ﬁve passing touchdowns, he ﬁnished the game 23-of-31 passing for 372 yards (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo3i2Zo4wFE). Wilson had his ups and downs in 2012, and went from being a projected first round pick, to a projected day 2 pick. He was so confident he would be a day 2 pick, that he held a draft party on day 2 with all of his family and friends. Unfortunately he was not taken until the third day, where he got the call while he was at Walmart. Anyway, when Reggie picked him in round 4, I was very happy. Although that pick most likely meant Pryor will most likely never start in Oakland, I was happy that we got a once projected first overall pocket passer in the fourth round. It was a great value pick and I knew Wilson would end up being a good QB. Which is why I wasn't very surprised that he got rave reviews in rookie camp. I've seen him play a lot of games and I've been impressed. So to break down his game:
- One of the toughest QBs I have seen. Will stand in the pocket and deliver the ball even though he knows he's about to get railed
- Good decision making, understanding of progression reads
- Pocket mobility, good stop and pop (quick and accurate), feels the rush, functional scrambling
- Has a laser for an arm, above average zip especially over the middle and when he has a window
- Needs better footwork, throws of balance a lot
- Inconsistent misses
- Needs to work on his deep ball, floats/under throws a lot b/c he drops his elbow sometimes
Some important tape (see for yourself):
Tyler Wilson vs LSU 2011-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6PI0L7-xnk
Tyler Wilson vs Rutgers 2012-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=918Kg5KYW3w
Vs Texas A&M 2012-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk13DTBGuzg
Vs South Carolina 2011-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PFZ-nQhCCA
Vs LSU 2012-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6PI0L7-xnk
His first game vs BCS Champs Auburn 2010-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BlUNnThoTQ
Career Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwP77akozPs
So the question is, will he be our franchise quarterback?
Too early to say. If you ask me, don't buy into rookie camp/OTAs success too much. Nate Davis for the 49ers looked great in camp and all, but I don't he ever played in the NFL, and a lot of 49er fans thought he could be there QB of the future. When pre season rolls around, it would be great to see his game and how he does against NFL defenses. The way Matt Flynn's contract is worked, he is pretty much guaranteed the starting job in 2013, so unless he really out does Flynn in practice/pre-season he most likely will sit year one. However, 2014 is a toss up. Flynn is making less money, and most of the guaranteed money is only in year one. This is where Wilson can win the starting job. If Tyler Wilson can perfect his footwork and deep ball, we could have a very good QB in Oakland for years.
Name: Nick Kasa
Position: Tight End
Previous Positions Played: Defensive End, Fullback
Draft status: picked 172 (round 6) in the 2013 NFL Draft
Contract: Four years, $?
Nick Kasa is as raw and as unproven as it gets, however he as tremendous outside and the potential to be a dominant TE. Kasa moved from defensive end to tight end for 2012 and showed some natural ability as a pass receiver. He has a ton of upside and should get better as he gains more experience. The senior caught 25 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns. A lot of scouts are high on Kasa's potential because he has a serious combination of size and speed. He entered the combine as the heaviest TE, yet ran a solid 40 time of 4.71 (fifth highest among TEs at combine). After starting off his college football career with a knee injury that cost him the first three games of the season, he missed five more games with mononucleosis (yep, mono) and was not rewarded a red shirt season. Following that, he made little contribution as a DE so he asked to be moved to TE in the middle of his junior season. It wasn't until his senior year until he made his mark. Kasa worked his way into the starting lineup and finished up the year with 25 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns. What impressed scouts the most was not Kasa's receiving ability, but instead his willingness to block and overlooked straight-line speed on vertical routes. The Raiders coaching staff got an extra long look at Kasa as he played for Dennis Allen's team at the Senior Bowl. He is a project, but he is very physical and the starting TE job is wide open. I for one was extremely happy when we took Kasa in the sixth round. I was mainly shocked he was available that late, as he was a projected 3-4 rd pick by scouts. At the time of the pick, I thought we had an immediate replacement for Myers, however I quickly realized that he has played only one year and a half as a TE and is still learning his new position, but senior offensive assistant Al Saunders is a great TE coach so he is in the right place. It will be seen if he can win the starting job this early in his career. Rob Rang of CBS Sports did a pretty good job of analyzing his game, considering the little tape on him.
STRENGTHS: Thick, broad-shouldered athlete who physically looks the part. Possesses surprising straight-line speed and good mobility and balance, overall. Physical, competitive run-blocker. Strong hands to turn and seal defenders from the ball-carrier and has an idea of what his opponent is trying to accomplish based on his previous experience playing on the defensive line.
Developing pass-catcher who routinely finished practices during his senior season catching 100 passes from the JUGS machine. Has the size/speed combination to be an effective special teams performer early in his career. Possesses clear untapped potential and could be an ascending player and matchup headache for defenses at tight end.
WEAKNESSES: Raw. Lacks awareness as a route-runner and too often fights the ball as pass-catcher. Plays a bit tight and bulky. Faster than he is quick and needs to show greater flexibility and explosiveness to generate separation. Has struggled with various bumps and bruises throughout his career, though none of the injuries caused him to miss considerable time, raising concerns about his toughness. Was knocked out of the Arizona game (2012) with concussion-like symptoms.
I am rooting for Nick Kasa and I think he is a solid player and has all the tools to be a solid athlete. He has a shot at winning the starting job, but will have to battle in camp for it. Luckily for him, it seems that Reggie McKenzie is evolving with the modern NFL and it's 2TE system that is being used a lot more (I will get into great detail about this when I do my next Raider) so Kasa has an opportunity to fight for as many snaps as possible
Nick Kasa vs Washington State and Arizona State in 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9RdSSWC-SQ
Back from the long break...
Now for RM's next pick
Name: Mychal Rivera
Position: Tight End
First Team All SEC (2012)
Draft status: picked 184 (round 6) in the 2013 NFL Draft
Contract: 4 years, $?
When Mychal Rivera was picked I had the same reaction many did. "Seriously? two tight ends in a row?". At first I was scratching my head on why RM didn't draft a DL or a CB. Then I realized there
was two reasons RM made this pick. The first reason was simply BPA. McKenzie saw Rivera's hands, athleticism, and work ethic and viewed it as a player too skilled to pass up. The second reason (and the most important) is RM is simply evolving with the modern NFL. If you haven't noticed, 2TE sets have been extremely common in today's NFL. The most recognizable is Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots. Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker had also been effective for a while. Teams are copying that scheme and using more 2TE sets and are creating mismatches for their opponents. The Raiders now have two young TEs to groom. The thing about Kasa and Rivera is that they are two completely different players. Kasa is a tough, physical inline blocker, while RIvera is an athletic, mobile pass catching TE. If the two of the can be used together effectively they can create a dominant duo at TE. Both players have the upside/potential. Kasa has the size and physical attributes to be dominant and Rivera has very good hands and mobility. RM is doing something Al Davis had a tough time doing, progressing with the modern NFL game.
Now let's go with some background info on Rivera. Rivera signed with Oregon out of high school in 2008. However, Oregon had a ton of depth at TE and Rivera wan't getting enough snaps. In fact, they had so much TE depth that coach Chip Kelly asked Rivera to move to the offensive line. Rivera understood that the position didn't utilize his skill set so he requested to be released from his scholarship. He then went on to play for College of the Canyons (JUCO) and had a successful season. He then chose to go to Tennessee despite a lot of teams after him. After spending year one on the bench, backing up TE Luke Stocker (2011 4th round pick of the Buccaneers) . He didn't get a chance to start until his second year. In his first year as a starter he finished with 29 catches, 344 yards, and one TD. His senior year he broke out, recording 36 catches, 562 yards, and five TDs. He was named first team all SEC because of this. On to evaluate his game more in depth:
Good hands and athleticism to make tough catches. Solid move the chains kind of guy. He will fight for the extra yards and has long, strong arms. Can haul in the throws on the run and continue over the middle. Can stiff arm to gain yards and uses his agility to avoid LBs. Always gives 100% and not a bad in-line blocker. Good feet, very mobile. Has strider's speed.
Needs to bulk up to be a better blocker (however playing alongside Kasa can make this less of an issue). Doesn't posses great speed. Average quickness and strength. Can get pushed around at times.
One of the overlooked things about Rivera is his character. He is a good person and a hard worker and fits the frame of the guys RM is trying to bring into Oakland. To find out more of his story (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQOw56jkr-Y). He's a guy that will always give it his all and just wants to get better. His hands are great and can be utilized as a good pass cathcing TE. Look for a lot of 2TE sets with him and Kasa in the future.
Rivera vs Georgia and Missouri 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ5DiaOfM30
Rivera vs Florida and South Carolina 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExmyKkchlU0
Now for another 2013 draft pick (it's rookie week I guess)
Name: David Bass
Postion: DE/Pass Rush
Scheme: 4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE
2x First Team Selection All-MIAA (2011, 2012)
Weight: 262 lb
Draft Status: picked 233 (round 7) in the 2013 NFL Draft
College: Missouri Western State
Contract: 4 years, $?
Every year there are a few small school sleepers who get overlooked in the draft process. This year it was David Bass. Bass shined at the East-West shrine game and was the most consistent pass rusher there. He played at Missouri Western until his senior years and broke two school records in the process. The first being most sacks (40.5) and the second being most consecutive starts (50). He became an everyday starter starting from his freshman year and he played well, recording 47 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Each year he gets better. Sophomore year he had 47 tackles along with 8 sacks. In his Junior year he had 14.5 sacks and a whopping 20 tackles for loss. His senior year he had 11.5 sacks. However at that point teams were well aware of his presence. The Raiders have little depth at DE and a weak pass rush, so Bass has a good chance of emerging as the team's key pass rusher. Bass compares himself with Aldon Smith due to their similarities in size and pass rush production. Bass has a lot of speed and talent which can make him a beast at the next level. Coach Dennis Allen has recently placed Bass as an OLB when the team ran 3-4 sets. He said it was his first time playing LB. His ability to rush the edge is there, but his coverage will need developing. Bass can play many sets and is very versatile, he will be a good fit in the team's new hybrid offense they are planning to install next year. Keep in mind he ran a 4.65 40 time showing off his athleticism. To go into his game in depth:
Good quickness and natural burst off the snap. Fluid movements and lateral speed. Has good awareness and instincts. He gives effort and is very motivated, a true competitor. Another strong character guy with good locker room presence.
Needs to improve his technique and block shedding. He played against bad competition in division 2 football.
When Bass was asked to describe himself in one word he said "beast". He will have to transition and work hard to become a beast in the NFL. He has the talent to do so, but he needs to perfect his technique to be a successful pass rusher. Bass was a great pick by RM that late in the draft. He may be an unknown but the production is there.
Now for a fellow seventh round draft pick...
Name: Brice Butler
Position: Wide Receiver
Espn Pac 10 All Freshman team
Draft Status: picked 209 (round 7) in the 2013 NFL Draft
College: USC/San Diego State
Contract: 4 years, $?
When Brice Butler was picked, I had no idea who he was. Doing some research on him, Butler seemed to be the typical Al Davis pick. He was a workout warrior and his pro day made him draw heavy interest. Butler ran a blazing 4.36 40 yard dash. That would have made him the third fastest receiver had he participated in the combine. However there was more than just his 40 time that made teams interested, he finished with a 6.6 mark in the 3-cone drill, a 10’9 broad jump, and a 39-inch vertical. Those would have landed him in the top 3 of all wide receiver drills. He's more than an athletic freak however. His routes looked crisp and he has already made several impressive catches in both rookie camp and OTAs. In fact, he was Tyler Wilson's favorite receiver in rookie camp. Oddly, Butler stated he had no idea who was throwing him the ball in camp and he made sure to just go out and make the play no matter who was throwing the football. Butler was a top prospect coming out of high school, but became a bust in college in terms of production. He had just 41 catches for 541 yards over three seasons with the Trojans. After his fourth year at USC (redshirted) he graduated and then went on to transfer to San Diego State (playing with Gavin Escobar) and had his best collegiate season, but finished with just 24 catches, 347 yards, and four touch downs. The Raiders are hoping they can mold his natural gifts and turn him into a deep threat. His size and speed combo makes him very comparable to DHB. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of his game:
Electrifying athlete, has incredible size and speed combo. Good focus and concentration, can make tough catches. Posses solid hands and crisp route running.
Weaknesses: Lacks a quick release and down the field burst. Had very little production in college.
When you look at his strengths, you see everything you could want in a receiver. What makes you scratch your head is how little he produced in college. If Butler can make the most of his potential, he could end up being a huge steal for the raiders. He has all the tools to be a top receiver, just needs to put it together.
Already seven rookies done (three more to go), let's keep it rolling
Name: Latavius Murray
Position: Running Back
Scheme: Power Run
First Team All C-USA (2012)
Conference USA Championship MVP
AutoZone Liberty Bowl MVP
Draft Status: picked 181 (round 6) in the 2013 NFL draft
Contract: 4 years, $?
I think I was one of the few people who new who Latavius "LT" Murray was when we drafted him. He's been one of my favorite sleeper picks for a while. I've been watching tape of him and have been very impressed. For some reason, he was not very recognized by the media and I was surprised he was not invited to the combine. One of my friends is a huge UCF fan and he told me all about him, so I did some research and I was impressed. This was about a few months before the draft by the way. He finally gathered buzz at his pro day, after running a reported 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day to go along with a 10-foot-4 broad jump and a 36-inch vertical jump. These are all impressive numbers for a back as big as he is. He is a beast of an RB, a power runner to say the least. Murray could be a huge steal for the Raiders in the sixth round. Unlike Butler, not only is Murray athletic, but he had great production in college. He finished college with a total of 2,424 rushing yards, 37 rushing touchdowns, 50 receptions, 524 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. As a rookie, Murray has a serious shot of taking the number two RB job behind DMC. Murray is a complete back, he can catch, run, pass protect, and he hasn't fumbled since 2008 (407 carries without a fumble). I had a feeling Reggie would draft him because here was a report that the Raiders were interested, which is why I wasn't surprised at all we drafted him. I am very happy with this pick because I feel like he has a lot of potential. Another great thing, is that he's a great teammate and a hard worker. His teammates are fascinated by his effective stiff arm and gave him the nickname "LT". Murray participated in the Texas vs The Nation game and led all players in rushing yards and carries. He practiced with current Raider UDFA Brian Leonhardt (who led all receivers in receptions and receiving yards) as they were on the same team. I'm sure GM Reggie McKenzie was paying attention to that game as another Raider UDFA, Matt McGloin, was also in the game and playing on the same team as the other two. Immediately after he was picked there was speculation that he may have been the steal of the draft (http://tinyurl.com/mhtembd). If Murray does indeed end up being a steal, he could be one of many of the Raiders draft class. Reggie picked guys based off potential and hard work, one of the reasons I was very happy with our draft. Now to take a look at some key strengths and weaknesses:
Big, power running, straight-line running back with the ability to run over the defender or put a move on him. Good running vision and takes advantages of his blocks. Fights for tough yards, keeps his feet moving. Good burst through the hole, and can break tackles. Solid pass protector and good receiver out of the backfield, possesses soft hands. Great ball security.
Not very good when changing directions, loses too much momentum. Runs upright (similar to McFadden).
Murray is already impressing in camp and in drills. Murray is a grind it out running back. He'll fight for yards and uses his big body to truck opponents. However he is very athletic and has good speed, even though he doesn't play as fast as his 40 time suggest. He has the tools to be a solid RB and could be a very good complement to McFadden. He is another guy I'm rooting for and can be the next beast. He is very comparable to McFadden in a lot of ways, but not as injury prone.
Murray vs Marshall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJvCTzM2c0E
Murray vs SMU: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoWesK_820U
Continuing with the theme of rookies, lets go with the fellow sixth round pick
Name: Stacy McGee
Scheme: 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE
Draft Status: picked 205 (round 7) in the 2013 NFL draft
Contract: 4 years, $?
Stacy McGee was a surprise pick to some. Interior defensive line was a huge need, however McGee has some serious baggage, which led many to think that he may not get drafted. McGee has been suspended and arrested various times. In fact there are to many to list. McGee had so many off the field problems he could hardly manage to stay on the field. Just starting 17 games over three years. He started 11 games his sophomore season and was ready to be the every game starter in 2012 but was suspended for the first six games. He finished his college career with 63 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. The talent in McGee is there, but the best news is he is putting his off the field issues behind him. McGee recently stated that he looks forward to grow as a person and "become a man". Those are some strong words. McGee also said that he plans on changing the people he is around, hanging with a better crowd can help transform him. However, the Raiders seem high on McGee. Head Coach Dennis Allen had some words to say: "You know, we're big on character," said Dennis Allen. "We want good character guys. Guys are going to make mistakes, nobody's perfect. When we did all our research on him. We felt like he was a guy we wanted to give a second opportunity to. We've had a lot of conversations with him. I think he understands the mistakes that he's made in the past. He's ready to learn from those and move on from it. I think if he can do that, then he's got a lot of ability, and there might be a football player there for us.
"He's got really good size and strength and for his size, he moves really well. He's a guy that I think has got really good ability to stop the run, pass rush is an area where he can continue to improve on, but he's a guy that I'm anxious to see when he really gets a chance to get out there and work." Allen believes that McGee deserves a second chance and know it is up to McGee to make the most of it. McGee is still recovering from a foot injury which caused him to miss his pro day. Once he recovers, he has a lot to prove. McGee was a top high school recruit, he was ranked the second best player in Oklahoma, the 8th best DE in the nation, and the 86th best player overall. Time to go over his game:
Has smooth movement and is an explosive defensive linemen. Has the quickness to burst in any direction, can play up and down the line of scrimmage and make plays on the sideline. Has long arms and strong arms to finish plays. Very powerful and closes his gap. Good block shedding and bull rush. Plays with intensity.
Needs to work on his technique and fundamentals, relies to much on his physical tools. Obvious character issues. Saw minimal action in college. Streaky effort, doesn't always give it his all, other times he does
The potential is there, and if McGee really can put his previous troubles behind him and develop his game, he could turn into a solid rotational player who can stuff the run. He is a tough nasty DL who showed flashes of dominance, he needs to work on consistency and technique to be dominant in the NFL. McGee may have been a risk, but he was a compensatory sixth round pick. So either he works out and becomes a steal, or gets cut with little penalty. McGee may be a project, but he could be worth it.
Moving on to a more interesting rookie
Name: Menelik Watson
Position: Offensive Tackle
Scheme: Any (strong and athletic, Power Blocking or Zone Blocking)
All-ACC honorable mention
Draft Status: picked 42 (round 2) in the 2013 NFL draft
College: Florida State
Watson was born in Manchester, England from a tough family background. He loved sports, and he viewed it as a way to get out of poverty. He lived with just his mother and four brothers. He loved soccer and had high hopes that he could one day play for Manchester City, but he shattered his ankle in 2001 while playing the game. He decided to pick up the game of basketball when he realized he would never be the same soccer player again. He joined the basketball team and was acknowledged by American basketball coach Robe Orellana. Orellana signed Watson up for his Canarias Basketball Academy, one of the top basketball academies in Europe. He was named the captain of his basketball team and showcased his skills in the US. He was offered a scholarship by Marist College to play basketball. Being the big man he was, he played center and power forward, but lacked the height at just 6'5. He wasn't producing what he hoped and averaged just 4.7 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game. Once he realized basketball wasn't going to work out, he started boxing (defensive linemen must beware his powerful punch) but he realized he couldn't have a career like that so he transferred to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California where he played American Football for the first time in his life. The team saw his incredible upside and talent, so he became the immediate starting right tackle. Starting on the left side was Kyle Long, son of Raider great Howie Long. Each of them impressed greatly, and Kyle Long transferred to Oregon, while Watson fell in love with Florida State. He actually loved Florida State Seminole football from the beginning, that's how he got into football. Before he went to Saddleback, he attended a Seminole game, and fell in love. His dream came true. Watson proved he could play football at a high level and won the starting RT job. He played great, and some scouts stated he had more upside than any other offensive tackle in the draft. Mike Mayock had him ranked as the 31st best player in the draft and a lot of mocks had him going in the first round. Luckily for RM, not only did he get the BPA but he filled a huge need, Khalif Barnes has proven he cannot start in the NFL. Watson has also shown he has the athletic abilty to play left tackle, but with Jared Veldheer, that is not a need, but he could serve as an emergency option. The only knock on Watson is experience. He is too raw. Just two years of football in his life, one of them being in Junior College. Luckily, he has a great OL coach in Tony Sporano to coach him up. Watson could develop into a great player, but can he start as early as next season? Tough call, we'll see how he does in the offseason.
To take a look at his pros and cons,
- Physical specimen. Great size, strength, and athleticism. Incredible upside
- Quick feet, good mobility and moves well laterally
- Great range, can get to the second level and make cut off blocks
- Powerful punch, former boxer
- Flexible, bends well
- Incredibly raw, sometimes looks lost
- Inconsistent footwork
- Needs to work on hand placement, hit on the frame
- Needs to work on play recognition
Watson has come a long way and is one of the best stories of the draft. He has all the potential in the world, but little experience. His athletic ability is rare and he has an explosive first step. He needs to work on his technique, if he can perfect he could be a perennial pro bowler. The main question is, when will he be ready?
Watson vs Florida: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5v4n6MuSOQ
Watson vs Miami: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag5wLMJ65xU
Watson vs Northern Illinois: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkupPUvnJ6U
This next player is being done by request, he is a rookie, but not a well known one
Name: Billy Boyko
Scheme: 3-4 ILB, 4-3 LB
Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week
Sports Network National FCS Defensive Player of the Week
Draft Status: Undrafted in 2013
Boyko has never visited California before. In fact, the farthest he's ever traveled from his hometown of Northhampton, Pennsylvania is North Dakota. He is now coming all the way to California to fight for job. To be honest he is more of a camp body, but a request is a request, so let's bring out the facts. Boyko said he was invited to rookie mini-camps by Tampa Bay, Seattle and Kansas City, but the Raiders were the only team to offer him a contract. The Raiders were one of 15 teams at his pro day and had been in contact with him leading up to the draft. The fact that he's on good terms could mean that he could have a potential shot at making the final roster if he performs that great, but most likely practice squad.