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.


Calico Jack said...

Well done, Sir Martin. I too was leaning towards SOH but realize McFadden could be a special, superstar caliber player.

Did you see Rhodes got released today? Jordan is on his way out. Now suddenly we have Fargas, McFadden, Bush, and perhaps Echimandu. Curious to know where you sourced McFadden wearing jersey #34 ... it seems odd considering Jordan is still officially on the roster.

Our 2008 draft will be considered a HUGE sucess as long as McFadden lives up to billing as a game changing, big play threat. At QB and RB we line up arguably the most gifted players at their respective positions in the entire league. It will be a joy to watch the young foundation lift the franchise to new heights.

Cheers Mate,
Calico Jack

Leighraider said...

I'm sure the No.34 came from DMAC himself.When he was in Oakland on his visit, chatting to Al he said he liked Bo Jackson, and Al told him that if he became a Raider that the 34 was his, something like that.I don't think Jordan will be on the roster come camp time to complicate things though.It might have ben posted on something like the Jerry Mac Blog, can't remember where now.

Leighraider said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leighraider said...

I tell a lie, it was posted on a forum by a friend of someone close to McFadden who passed on the story.It's probably a complete load of bollocks, but it cheered me up, when I thought that we would be seeing the back of Lamont Jordan.

Anonymous said...

Nice read my friend. Would have preferred Dorsey but I'll have to live with McFadden. I reckon we could see a few high scoring games next year.
Just the thing my old ticker needs.

I've renamed my blog so the url has changed. Ive added the word "the"

the watchman

Gordo said...

Nice article.

What about Richardson @ DE?

He's a stud.



kigleigh said...

Don't worry about Jordan keeping that 34shirt Martin,i read a quote by Warren Sapp the other day where he described LJ as 'the worst off-season RB i've aver seen'.
Sapp was tight with the coaching staff,so it's pretty safe to say that if he thinks that way,then so do they.Mark him down as gone at 1 minute past midnight on June 1st mate.