Just One Draftee Left Unsigned

The good news that Menelik Watson has signed his rookie deal, joining all the other draftees bar DJ Hayden, should rightly be celebrated. Getting all the rookies signed prior to camp is absolutely vital to their development, particularly so for players such as Watson who have relatively limited football experience.

Getting Menelik Watson in pads as soon as possible, under the expert tuition of offensive line guru Tony Sparano, can only improve the outlook for this young team in 2013-2014. Watch out Khalif Barnes the RT position is due some heavy competition.

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2 Cut

Coye Francies and Travis Goethel have been cut from the Raiders squad, interestingly leaving 3 spaces for potential aquisitions…..mmmmm, I wonder where we are looking (see my other post for ideas)

Not particularly sad to see either go. I once had hope for Goethel at MLB but he can’t stay healthy.

Francies we just don’t have room for, given the excellent CB transactions we have made recently, coupled with the addition of Josh Cibbs to the return game

Training Camp Battles

For me the key developments moving into training camp are at right tackle, cornerback depth, which WR doesn’t make the roster, punter, and I suppose at a push QB (although I expect Matt Flynn to win this battle). Expect a few surprises – positive ones too – this season, as we win a few more games than most analysts expect. I certainly don’t see us in the reconing for the number 1 pick next season.

The battle for Right tackle will hopefully be won by Menelik Watson, but lets be realistic starting the season will be Khalif Barnes. The key observation from camp though will be how much time Watson gets – sign your contract now – as he needs reps and offers much more than Barnes.

The WR’s look liek a nice group, unfortunately we can’t carry anymore than 7, probably 6, so some talent will have to be cut – expect camp to be informative as to developments here.

The QB battle I’ve dealt with before, so I wont go on about in any detail again, but I look forward to developments here – 3 players I like, which is a nice problem to have.

On special teams the punter postion is wide open, and although I’m rooting for Marquette King, it could easily be the old-head of Chris Kluwe that wins the job.

On the D, we have brought in a lot of new (youngish) talent, and I see a big improvement, particularly mentored as they will be by their new old-field coach Charles Woodson. I like most of the CB aquisitions we made this off-season, and indeed foresee camp deciding how the depth pans out, but don’t be at all surprised if we carry 6 CB’s this year. CB’s offer good special teams play, plus we have some good youngsters, that I personally don’t think we can risk losing, such as Taiwan jones, who although not ready yet offer glimpses.

QB Controversy – not much

The much talked about QB controversy – not us specifically but generally by the media – will not, in my opinion, be a theme of 2013/2014. Why because I see Matt Flynn taking the reigns and taking them well.

Don’t get me wrong I thought Tyler Wilson was an excellent value draft pick in the fourth round – he has late first round talent – but I believe he will benefit from a few years in the backup role first.

I also like Terrelle Pryor – more on this later – and I think the current strategy of working on his throwing dynamics is prudent and could well pay off….next year.

This year, however, I say give the reigns of the horse to Matt Flynn. He has served his apprentiship (largely at Green Bay) and I don’t see his time at Seattle as the abject failure that many of the media seemed to think – Russell Wilson was excellent last year, so losing the starting position to him was not the atrocity many seemed to think it was.

Flynn has excellent toughness. A decent, if not world beating, arm and is a good manager on the pitch. The key thing on the offense this year is the line, I see the trenches looking much so much improved this year, that the QB’s position will be much imporved. In reality though this will chiefly benefit the RB – hopefully (finger’s crossed) Darren McFadden. The hope being that McFadden stays fit – a big ask – if this happens, behind this line, we could be 8-8. I know this seems a big call, and consists of a lot of “ifs” but I honestly believe it.

Should we sign anyone?

The quiet-time rolls on and very little of note has happened, at least what we know of, so I thought I’d ask the question “should we sign anyone”? There are still, what to me seem like, some talented individual players available, and given that they haven’t found paid work yet they should be one think this new Reggie-administration likes – cheap.
So who is out there, that we could potentially find room for?
DE’s – John Abraham, Trevor Scott, (even Dave Tollefson now he’ll be super cheap)
DT’s – Ron Brace (good run stuffer)
G – Pat McQuistan
RB’s – Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, Tim Hightower, Willis McGahee, Beanie Wells, Michael Turner
T – Eric Winston (remember he played with Mike Brisiel so could bring additional cohesion to the right side of the line)
WR – Mike Sims-Walker, Braylon Edwards
If you can think of anyone else, or disagree with me (or indeed concur), please let me know – I look forward to your comments.

Shhhh….DL could be about to improve (but wíll require patience)

Here we are in July and the season, or at least our season, has ground to a seeming hush. OTAs are over, no free agent signings are being made (or have been made) and the general news-flow is almost zero. At least the good old days of arrests and suspensions seem to have become a faded memory.
This is the time for more in-depth analysis pieces, and unless I hear different I’m going to start with a focus on what I consider to be a key – the DL – and the young players that will hopefully make an impact this season, our new rookies David Bass, Kurt Taufa’assua, Ryan Robinson and Stacy McGee. I’m hopefully that at least two of these defensive linemen will make the 53 man roster.
David Bass really excites me. I know he comes from a small school, which is a negative given the level of opposition he has regularly faced, but he looks awesome. His film is incredible, given time I am confident he could be a real steal from the 2013 draft. At 6-4 and 256 lbs he already has the physical tools to be a 4-3 edge rusher, but the frame has the possibility to put on muscle and eventually play 3-4. Yes he is raw, but this kid as the third or fourth DE this year could really turn into a talent in a few years, given the right coaching.
The other player I see being a lock for the 53 is Stacy McGee, at 6-3 and 310 lbs he already has the physical attributes to play both DT and NT, but it’s his stamina and psyche that need to be the real focus now. The negatives on McGee revolve around his troubled college career, but also reports of him tiring too easily. Our coaching staff saw something in this lad though and they have shown a real leap of faith in selecting him in the sixth round. Apparently the reports are that he is actually a good kid, that with work (much work) could turn out to be an NFL-caliber starting DT. We’ll need the patience though, but hopefully we have another gem here.
Moving onto the less likely 53-man roster candidates and its UDFA’s Kurt Taufa’assua and Ryan Robinson. The physical stats look impressive on both candidates, Taufa’assua at 6-2 and 300 lbs is reportedly the prototype NT type, something that we have long missed in my eyes, but he is hardly the big-time NT a lot of us sought. He attended Wyoming college and really looked good until a bad arm injury took him out of action, which in turn is thought culpable for him falling out of the draft ranking. Here’s some nice highlight tape on this blocker-shredder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVcqrTzDNfU . He looks stout at the point of contact and could be a long shot for the roster, particularly given our recent weakness at NT, but also generally supported by his seeming talent against the run. Most likely it will be a battle for him with Johnny Jones for the NT position on the practice squad.
Lastly, but by no means least, its Ryan Robinson the explosive Oklahoma State DE. At 6-4 and 255 lbs, and like David Bass, Ryan Robinson has the frame to eventually play both 4-3 and 3-4 DE, something that undoubtedly adds value to a defense that is evolving the way the Raider’s is. Given his size and relatively fast 40-time (4.8 seconds) he has the potential to be bring pressure from the outside edge, but at present he’s really got to be a long shot for the roster position, given his lack of college playing time. I guess he’s one for the practice squad in reality.