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Answering your Raiders (and some non-Raiders) mailbag questions: Volume two

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There were simply too many good questions in the mailbag to keep it to one article, so I broke it up into two. Here is the second volume of the mailbag.

GERaider asks: Do you think the Raiders linebacker corps got enough attention in the offseason? What do you expect from this unit?

No, I don’t. I like the Tahir Whitehead signing and that’s about it. I’m not high on the addition of Derrick Johnson and I think it was a big mistake not bringing back NaVorro Bowman. I realize he is still unsigned, but there are a number of reasons that could be, tops being he is waiting for the right contract and right situation. The Raiders were the right situation, but not the right contract. He can wait until that comes along, usually due to an injury and some team will make him their first call. Emmanuel Lamur knows Guenther’s system, but is a career backup while Kyle Wilber is a career special teams guy.

Raid and Pillage asks: With the Marcus Gilchrist signing, Reggie Nelson’s Ties to Guenther, Erik harris receiving high marks in minicamp and Chucky somewhat calling out Melifonwu, how long or short of a leash does Melifonwu have when it comes to making the roster?

I don’t see Melifonwu not making this roster. He was a second round pick last year and will be given a chance to show his potential. Whether he stays in Gruden’s doghouse is another story. And if so, he will be relegated to special teams and could be trade bait if the right deal comes about.

Jpepper13 asks: How is Hall doing? All we hear about is Hurst.

Not a whole lot can be gleaned as an observer in the offseason. But reading the tone and wording of his coaches and teammates, he is not bursting on the scene. That’s why you only hear about Hurst. If Hall were making some noise, you’d hear about it. He could develop, but so far the reviews aren’t good.

Nomadic Raider asks: What was the coolest interaction you’ve ever had with a player, coach, or other member of the organization?

The one that sticks with me the most is the final Raiders interview with Quentin Groves. It was in the locker room at the Raiders facility after the 2011 season finale and he was sure the team wasn’t going to be bringing him back. I’ve never seen a player so clearly distraught about that. He saw himself as a Raider and didn’t want to be anywhere else. Groves was one of the best people I’ve had the chance to meet. He did things like tweet out that he was going to see a certain movie and a certain time and anyone who wanted to join him, he’d pay for their ticket. One other time he told fans if they sent him their address, he’d mail them an autographed photo of him. And he did it.

He went on to play three more NFL seasons for the Cardinals, Browns and Titans. Two years after retiring from the NFL, he would suffer a heart attack and die. Pretty devastating. Rest in Peace Q.

Grndmstr asks: Who do you think our day 1 starting tackles will be?

Donald Penn and Breno Giacomini.

sakeraiders asks: 1. What is the most marked difference on the practice field that you personally observed between Gruden and JDR as it translates to the impact on the players effort or play (so don’t just say Gruden yells more, please be specific if you can)? 2. What do you anticipate will be the biggest difference (on the field) in a Gruden coached team as opposed to a JDR team?

It’s practically night and day. Jack Del Rio just looked like an observer out there and would chop it up with the players a bit. Very relaxed. Gruden is loud and he’s into everything. Mostly he’s about the offense, but he’ll get into the defense some too. There was almost always music at Raiders practice with Del Rio. There is no music at these practices. You hear Gruden yelling to keep the pace up or correcting mistakes or praising players when things go well. Things move at a fast pace so as to get as much work in as possible. That also helps weed out those who either don’t fully know the playbook or can’t think on the fly. I anticipate that energy and fast pace will translate onto the field.

RaiderRich25 asks: What was YOUR mock draft?

I put this out just before the draft, but this was my 7-round mock (asterisk denotes trade):

Round 1, pick 14* (via GB)— Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Round 2, pick 41 — Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

Round 3, pick 75 — Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Round 3, pick 76* (via GB) — Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Round 4, pick 110 — Daesean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Round 4, pick 117** (via DET) — Michael Dickson, P, Texas

Round 5, pick 159 (from NE) — PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State

Round 6, pick 185 — Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

Round 6, pick 212 (Comp) — Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee

Round 6, pick 216 (Comp) — Frank Ginda, LB, San Jose State

Round 7, pick 228 -- Russell Gage, WR, LSU

Dafe2cat asks: From what you see at OTAs what are your thoughts on D-Line is there a chance of seeing our base 4-3 being Mack, Hurst, Hall and Irvin.

Very little chance that would be the starting four come the season. Though there is a slight chance you could see that lineup on obvious passing downs. But as of right now the interior starters are Mario Edwards Jr and Justin Ellis.

VIBE.RAIDER asks: Which Golden Girl would you say you’re most like? I’m a bit of a Blanche myself.

I’m totally a Sophia.

RaidersDoc asks: How are players really responding to Gruden? Is his energy all plus, or is it something likely to wear on players. Compared to prior years do practices seem dramatically better/worse?

So far, so good. You get the feeling Gruden kind of wants to wear on some players. He wants to find the players he can work with and whomever doesn’t respond positively to how he tries to motivate them, doesn’t play. He has said a couple pretty harsh things to a couple players on the field that may or may not result in those players responding positively. And I wish I could tell you what they were because it

MoreStickum asks: You’ve seen “the mad chemist” and the KNJ Cheerleader first hand. How different is PG’s approach? How much of an improvement are you expecting on defense?

You know how I said Gruden is energy compared to Del Rio’s laid back? Now reverse that for this one. Guenther has not shown a great deal of bluster. Norton was all hustle all noise and no substance. All flash and no cash, as they say. Jason Tarver was Mr Happy-To-Be-Here. You don’t get any of that from Guenther.

ChrissV25 asks: Which rookie are you most excited to see hit the field in game time?

I guess Maurice Hurst because at this moment he appears to have the best chance of either starting or seeing extensive time. I mean aside from the kickers.

thaddaeus.hudson asks: Do you think Gruden was trying to motivate Erik Harris when he gave him heavy praise bc he knows we are screwed at safety? Marcus Gilchrist and Karl Joseph are the starters?

I think he was trying to motivate Harris as well as probably Obi Melifonwu who is currently taking a backseat to Harris. Thus far Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph look like the starters, but Gruden likes Gilchrist a lot, so we could see a decent competition and/or rotation there.

Jpepper13 asks: How’s Townsend doing? Has he improved his hang time and does he look good with directional kicks?

He’s known for his directional punting. He even had a pretty nifty little line drive coffin corner punt that bounced at the 2-yard-line and right out of bounds. Not sure if he’ll be allowed to do it in a game or not, but it was still pretty cool. I noted last practice that when Marquette King arrived, he was erratic. He would have a booming punt, an ok punt, and a shank in succession. But after a couple years, he had eliminated the shanks and mostly booming punts. I haven’t really seen any of the high arching punts I got used to seeing from King, but we’ll see if that changes in training camp.

If you’d like to see the rest of the mailbag answers, click here.

Let’s do this again sometime.