Monday, 28 April 2008


At no point prior to this weekend did I ever have any preference for the selection of Chris Long as the RAIDERS first round draft pick, not ever, it was a smokescreen of Kiffin-esque proportions.

Ok, so that's not true.

My colours were firmly nailed to the mast as far as SOH was concerned.Then the St Louis Rams blew my draft within minutes, and the sight of Long Snr wearing a, what colour is that anyway?, cap with a sheep on it was enough to bring on nausea.

Once Darren McFadden had made his way to the stage of Radio City Music Hall and held a black shirt aloft, the disappointment had subsided and memories of the endless You Tube highlights of DMAC blowing by defenders started to make me feel better.My initial reasoning was that the RAIDERS had indeed wanted Long and had taken McFadden once that option had been denied them.GET THE POINTY HAT AND FIND A CORNER.

Lane Kiffin pointed out in his post pick press conference that McFadden was the guy all along, and to a young offensive minded coach, who worked with Reggie Bush at USC and had lamented the lack of explosiveness on his team, it was probably a no brainer.Yes we had running backs aplenty, but none possessed the home run ability of the man from Arkansas.That ability, complimented by Fargas and Bush, behind a Tom Cable line that had the RAIDERS ranked sixth in the league on the ground in '07, could reap rewards when eight games this season will be against teams that ranked 25th or worse against the run last year.Factor in too the fact that the RAIDERS under Lane Kiffin are a running team, and while that may have had much to do with the lack of certainty at the Quarterback position, the recent addition of Kwame Harris as a projected LT starter, who Kiffin describes as a powerful run blocker, points to the emphasis again being on the run while easing JaMarcus Russell into his first season proper.

The RAIDERS really haven't had a back this explosive since Bo Jackson, when it comes to pure speed and the threat to score from anywhere on the field.And rumour has it that McFadden will wear the same No.34 shirt.

The anti-McFadden voices will maintain that the greater need for the team is actually to stop other teams running on us.And considering the horror show that has been the RAIDERS run defense of late their point is valid.In fact the clamour up to, and during the draft, from many in the Nation was for both lines to be upgraded, and the subsequent selection of RB, CB/S, WR, DE, and WR had some up in arms to say the least.The main criticism is that the RAIDERS did nothing in the draft to deal with our biggest defensive weakness.

If fans can see the problems we had against the run, then you can be sure that the coaching staff are fully aware of it which begs the question, why was it not at least partly addressed via the draft?

To me, the RAIDERS staff are obviously confident in the guys that they have in both trenches at the moment, and I have to put my trust in them to know more about their players than than the average fan.They either know what they are doing or they don't and even if just for sanity's sake I have to believe that they do.

Firstly as we all know, on the offensive line things improved vastly last year from the 2006 shambles.That line, with Robert Gallery moved to guard, and the additions of Newberry, the quietly consistent Cooper Carlisle, and Cornell Green showed what Tom Cables ZBS was capable of, Barry Sims got away with playing LT for God's sake!

For 2008 it's Harris for Sims, and John Wade for Newberry, with Mario Henderson possibly ready to challenge on the right.Add to that the impressive Oren O'Neal, Justin Griffiths, and Zach Miller and thing's don't seem as bad after all.

Over on the D line where it seemed the draft held a lot of options, we have made moves in free agency and moved Tommy Kelly back inside.
If the defensive coaches be believed Kelly will be a dominant player at his preferred position, along with Terdell Sands who could bounce back from a traumatic year off the field.Add to them two former first round picks in Gerrard Warren(who we gave a fifth up for) and William Joseph on the inside, and Kalimba Edwards a former second round pick lining up at DE and again things may, just may, start to look up.The signing of Gibril Wilson who has averaged eighty-plus tackles per season since becoming a starter with the NY Giants can only help in the run game, and he should be able to play up in the box even more with the addition of DeAngelo Hall, who was effectively this years No.2 pick.

All these factors, and admittedly some of these players on the defensive line have to step it up this year, may explain the reluctance to make selections in those areas this last weekend.The D lineman that was selected, Trevor Scott, looks like a possible project if he can stick around.

The news that fourth rounder Tyvon Branch is viewed as a safety with the RAIDERS and has blazing speed with excellent return skills, which makes him a ready made replacement for Chris Carr, (with Hall also an option on some return duties), has gone some way to tempering my original dismay at the selection of yet another defensive back with track speed, especially after we had traded up to get him.Again, the possibility of more explosiveness in an area that had lacked it previously.

The selection of Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens may be nothing more than camp fodder, or motivation for Johnnie Lee Higgins to knuckle down,although Schilens at 6'4", 210 lbs, with 4.40 speed is an intriguing prospect.Shields too has similar speed, so JLH may well have some competition .

I was scratching my head at the completion of the draft, but am slowly feeling better at the outcome.I am coming round to the idea of RunDMC wearing Silver and Black too, if anyone is still struggling just go back to those highlight films again, it seems to do the trick.If all the RAIDERS woes against the run return in 2008, then at least with an offence containing Russell, McFadden, Miller, Walker, Bush, Carter et al we could simply try and outscore the opposition.Aah, outscoring the opposition, I remember that.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


The news that the No.1 pick is done and dusted, with Jake Long due to become a Dolphin on Saturday, made the likelihood of my preferred scenario of Chris Long falling to the RAIDERS slightly more feasible, but only slightly.

I have a really bad feeling about the Rams, I remember Scott Linehan looking all doe-eyed in the direction of Long at the Virginia Pro Day all too well.

Scanning the St Louis media didn't seem to give much information on how the scribes there see the thinking of the team at this point, although it did reveal that the term Ram Nation is in use.I mean come on, RAM NATION!! A view of any Rams home game and the array of sweaters on show seems to reveal a fan base with a commitment to knit, after all a nation of Rams will have a large surplus of wool.Looking at the 2007 stats for St Louis on defense shows them at 20th against the run and 21st in sacks with 31 in total, so a close call between the need for a DE or DT.Of course Dorsey and Gholston are in the mix too, so it really comes down to who the coaching staff feel will make the most impact.

The rumours of New Orleans making a run at the No2 pick to grab Dorsey, and Atlanta preferring Brian Brohm to Matt Ryan could further complicate things if the RAIDERS are to get Long.

All this aside if Gholston, Dorsey, or McFadden become RAIDERS on Saturday then we will still have a player who will make the team better, and I'm not even going to get into the possible trade possibilities open to us, as I just don't see Al moving out of fourth, at least not down.

So with all that said my picks in the Pond mock draft of 2008 are:

First Round:Chris Long DE Virginia.

Destiny, legacy, call it what you will.Can Al resist a chip off the old block if available?Plus a second generation Long playing Oakland seems right, and I'm sure he would rather play for the NATION of the non-sheepy variety.

Fourth Round:Donnie Avery WR Houston.

Deep threat that the RAIDERS had a look at in Alameda.He's fast, had 90 plus receptions in 2007, and scores TD's.This is a reach to say that he will drop to the fourth, but I am factoring in the RAIDERS trying to get into the third to get him.

Round Six:Wesley Woodyard OLB Kentucky.

Has had three consecutive 100 tackle seasons, and is a sideline to sideline player.The concerns that he is undersized for the NFL have him highly motivated and these same concerns could have him still available, could be a weakside Thomas Howard for the RAIDERS.Some draft rankings still have him taken in the mid rounds so another reach really but that's the fun of picking a list.

Round Seven (213):William Robinson OT San Diego State.

A big tackle with apparently sound technique for a guy who is forecasted to go in the late rounds.Worth a look to compete in camp and the last S.D State player we took turned out to be quite good.

Round Seven (226):David Faaeteete DT Oregon.

Again a little undersized for NFL DT's, but this is the seventh round and he's from Medford and we went to a Medfordian tailgate on our first Oakland trip, and made them ill with Guinness.Good enough reason for me.

That's me done for the draft.Whoever becomes a RAIDER will be welcomed by the NATION regardless.Although if it's McFadden we will have to be a little on the forgiving side, after he revealed a liking for the Broncos recently.

Roll on 8.00pm GMT Saturday.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


A good friend of mine ( that's you Kingy ) started a pre-draft ritual many years ago which I have mentioned here in the past.This involves finding our favourite ridiculous names from the draft board .No offence is intended, in fact this is a celebration, albeit one where we laugh alot.
Most drafts give us plenty of choice and this year is no exception.

So without further ado, here goes with my selections for 2008 :

DeMario Bobo DB Miss State.

Limas Sweed WR Texas.

Derek Belch K Stanford.

Scorpio Babers DB Sam Houston State.

Cornillius Tables OT Jacksonville State.

Le Rue Rumph LB North Carolina State.

Octavius Love DB Tusculum.

Justin Britt G Alabama.
( Not funny to anyone else, this ones for Athy )

Godser Cherilius OT Boston C.

Jonal Saint-Dic LB/DE Mich State.

Cergile Sincere LB Tennessee.

Delviccio Frost TE Jackson State.

Maurice Purify WR Nebraska.

De'Cody Fagg WR Florida State.

Benjarvus Green-Ellis RB Miss.

Mike Klinkenborg LB Iowa.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


I couldn't bring myself to write anything for the last month.Aside from the signing of a new center, the only other thing that was going on was the continual discussion of who the RAIDERS want/need/will get/should get in the draft.And to be quite frank I'm all draft decision ed-out.

I mean let's face it, there is only one man that can placate the whole of the Nation when it comes to our No.4 pick, and that is Chris Long.Ok, there may be some RAIDERS fans out there who don't want Chris Long (if available), but they can't be numerous, it's a win win.It's a position of need, he could conceivably play some OLB as well, and he has the blood of a TRUE RAIDER LEGEND in his veins.

I had got to the point where I had given up on the possibility of Long Jnr falling to us at #4, but in recent days the news of Miami talking contracts, however significant this actually is, with the other Long has got me hoping again, although the Rams and Falcons could both throw a spanner in the works too.See there I was saying I was all drafted-out and I'm going round more scenario's in my head again.Suffice to say, I want to see Chris Long in Silver and Black or the toys are going well and truly out of the pram. I like what I've seen of Dorsey, Ellis and McFadden but their dad's weren't RAIDERS where they?Look at how much Kirk Morrison brings to the team and his dad is a RAIDERS fan, never mind Hall Of Famer!

Seriously though, I have given up on the will they, won't they stuff for now, we only have eleven days to wait and then the talking will be over and someone will be the number four pick, unless we trade down, NO STOP IT.The main news of the week of course is the release of the 2008 schedule.

There are two angles to look at from this side of the pond when it comes to the release of a schedule.

1. Are there two home games together? and if so can you get those dates off work?

2. How does the schedule look for the team in general?

Sorry that's the way it is for those of us looking at the never ending grey skies of the north of England for the rest of the year , and once again this year the NFL schedulers have done us proud with two back to back home games in November, and whilst Atlanta and Carolina wouldn't be the opponents of choice ( two divisional games is possibly too much to ask ), it is two games at a good time of year regardless.

It is then that my thoughts turn to how the make-up of the schedule looks for the team.

Well it has to be said that three divisional games out of the first four looks immediately like a season defining run already.We have that tantalising MNF opener at home vs the Donkeys, and its straight off to KC and the Bills before returning to Oakland to face the rotating uniformed Chargers.Right there is a case for the RAIDERS to be up for it from the off.

If all is good in the world, and let's face it alot of that will fall onto the shoulders of JaMarcus Russell, we could conceivably lie 3-1 going into our bye week and jigs will be jigged all over the nation.On the other hand, divisional games are tough, and if it went badly during September then the wind would certainly be taken out of the sails of the RAIDERS season early.

Last year we split wins with the Chiefs and Donkeys, and at least competed in one of the two losses to the Chargers.IF, and yes it may be a big if, we show improvement on those records from last term then September could well hold the key to a much improved season for the Silver and Black.

The post bye schedule has a trip to never easy ( but winnable ) New Orleans, followed by games against the Jets, Ravens and Falcons, so without a doubt games 1 - 7 for the 2008 RAIDERS are an opportunity to finally turn this teams fortunes around.The need to hit the ground running is emphasised by the run-in towards the post season that the RAIDERS face, with trips to Denver, San Diego, and Tampa Bay and the Patriots at home.

From where I am sitting, which is a rather natty whicker number, the RAIDERS have an opportunity early this year to define their season, and did I mention that the addition of Chris Long might help that?

Oh yeah sorry of course I did.