2015 Looking Much Much Better

Firstly, we are looking a whole lot better this year. Secondly, with a nice bit of cap space this offseason we can get really good in 2016 (more to come shortly). I’m talking about top 5, superbowl contenders. This team has REAL potential.

Derek Carr looks awesome, the WR’s have real talent, the TE’s have good potential, our RB’s show flashes and the O-line has made big strides.

On the other side of the ball, the D looks very stout. I like Mario Edwards Jr at DE, Aldon Smith on the other side, Dan Williams is a beast and Jelly if he’s fit is decent. I also saw some impressive play from Stacy McGee the other day, while Autry is improving and I like the potential of Shelby Harris. Back in the LB’s, as long as we don’t overplay Jar Jar were fine, I love the new additions and I’m really impressed with how Norton has got them developing. Finally our much maligned secondary has shown improvements, dramatic ones at that. David Amerson needed the fresh start, and now looks every bit the high-round draft pick, while our own heavily critiqued DJ Hayden has also shown signs of improving. Safety in a injury-hit revolving door at the moment, but with Nate Allen coming back soon, Charles Woodson rocking the field and TJ Carrie looking great anywhere in the backfield (bar returning punts) we look pretty set. I also like Neiko Thorpe.

Fury Road

Starting with the haunting line “our world is fire and blood” the new Mad Max trailer perfectly encapsulates the excitement that I feel going into the 2015 season. Reggie is gradually pulling together a roster with not only talent but also a nice bit of Raiders’ swagger.

Any Raider fan can’t help but love the style and mystique of the Mad Max films, lets face it our former players and ongoing fans are pretty much the inspiration for the creatures that so hauntingly grace the backdrop of these brilliant films.

The bad-ass attitude that players like Khalil Mack, Sio Moore, Just Tuck and Charles Woodson bring to the defense a nasty, hungry personality, warriors looking to be set free on offenses by the excellence and dependability of new recruits, such as Curtis Lofton and Dan Williams. The additional pressure that our front 7 are going to bring this year should be awesome, and is likely to create a big increase in turnovers for our speedy DB-set. As Humungus the central baddy in Mad Max 2 said, “unleash my dogs of war”.

http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/67157122/khalil-mack-top-10-pick-in-the-nfl-draft

…. I can just see now, Derek Carr calmly striding onto the field, helmet in hand, to take the ball back after CW24 picks off another interception. Fakes a hand-off to Murray then pings a 50 yard bomb into the hands of Amari Cooper – the Oakland Raiders are back, its silver and black!!!

Revolving door…

…. one enters and another leaves, its a sad truth of much of life and Chimdi Chekwa’s arrival meant that another Oakland Raider had to leave. Remember 90 + 1 does not equal 90.

This week’s exit being the promising DB/LB Terrell Pinson. True we are short at safety, the most likely future playing position of Terrell Pinson, but not as short as we are/were of experience at CB. Bringing Chekwa in and deleting Pinson is a net gain for the Oakland Raiders, as Chimdi Chekwa probably makes the 53-man roster but Pinson was never really going to be more than a long-shot for the practice squad.

Profootball draft report had Pinson out of their top 75 safeties (note: they had our other young safety Tevin McDonald ranked higher)

http://profootball.scout.com/story/1502528-2015-nfl-draft-rankings-safeties

Looking at our roster right now I’d say Charles Woodson and Nate Allen are the likely starters, with Brandian Ross also a likely lock to make the final roster after a very good showing in the second half to 2014, then Tevin McDonald, Larry Asante, Jonathan Dowling (our last memory of Terrelle Pryor), Jimmy Hall and Ras-I Dowling are likely battling it out for one or two slots. Personally I think this could be a very promising group and I’d take 5 this year, as we need to prepare for when Charles Woodson finally hangs up the cleats.

Jonathan Dowling – Profile

With the Terrelle Pryor compensatory pick – i.e. what we got from the Seahawks in exchange for Terrelle Pryor – the Oakland Raiders selected the heir-apparent to Charles Woodson.

Ok, so maybe I’m stretching things a little, at this point, but it could be true. This kid is 6’3″, packs a mean hit and runs a 4.4 second 40-time. He’s not exactly refined and discipline looks like it might be an issues, but if you want to completely get your money out of the experienced players (like Woodson) that’s what you do, you bring in kids that need to see how-its-really done, and let them learn. If you don’t look up to one of the best ever, and learn from him, then you wont learn from anybody. It sure is a lot better than sitting and learning from many of our previous safeties we had – Eddie Anderson, Dorsett, etc, etc

This Dowling kid looks like he has all the physical tools, he just needs to sit with Woodson and the coaches day-in day-out and study. In 2 years time I’ve got a feeling this Dowling pick will be being talked about as one of the best Raider’s draft picks of all time, and nobody will be wishing we had Terrelle Pryor instead.

Draft Positions of Need: Safety

In a series of articles, looking at the various positions of need, I am looking today at Safety. This isn’t a position we need to address early, because we have two strong starters, but it is a position I would be keen for us to address in the latter rounds or as an UDFA.

In my opinion Tyvon Branch is a top-10 starting strong safety and one that I expect to show significant improvements this season, as at 27 years of age he enters the peak of his career. Backing him up, however, is a bit of an unknown. Brandian Ross seems to be the club’s long-term possibility, and he has shown glimpses, but he also sucked far to often and at 191 lbs he needs to add some weight (i.e. muscle), which I’m sure he’s doing right now. Shelton Johnson also has some promise, but I really feel he needs to sit back on the practise squad to learn this season. I wouldn’t be opposed to another talent being drafted, as long as its not too early or as an UDFA, although if I’m honest free safety is probably a bigger need.

In Charles Woodson we not only have a very capable FS but we also have a leader on the field, a legend for the young players to learn from and a coach on the pitch. Woodson looked great at times last season, but as he tired the standard of his play accordingly dropped. Now in Usama Young we also have a player I really like, and he needs to come into the lineup more often to help woodson remain fresh, but Usama Young isn’t top-tier standard, and a young talent is probably required here. I’m not completely against the idea that a player I’ve talked about many times before Neiko Thorpe (  https://raidalove.wordpress.com/tag/best-fa/) can’t yet be the answer, but if a real talented player falls into the later rounds, like Dion Bailey, Lonnie Ballentine or Tre Boston, then we should certainly pounce….roll on draft day, its going to be exciting (although rather sadly I think I enjoy the UDFA acquisitions after the draft the most).

Lonnie Ballentine – watch the clips, looks really good http://nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=68818&draftyear=2014&genpos=FS

 

Great Signings Continue

The Oakland Raiders acquisition of CB Carlos Rogers is another great signing by the Reggie McKenzie administration. Yes Rogers is old – 32 years to be precise – but he is in good condition, will likely not be an ever-down starter anyway, and with the much improved pass rush will have a much easier job to do than last year’s incumbents.

Just like Charles Woodson, Carlos Rogers provides further tutelage for our young DB class – I can only see the likes of Taiwan Jones, Chimdi Chekwa, Johnny Adams, Chance Casey, Tony Dye, DJ Hayden, Shelton Johnson and Neiko Thorpe – improving under the guidance of Tarell Brown, Charles Woodson and Carlos Rogers.

… on this kid Neiko Thorpe, at 6’2″, clocking 4.34 in the 40 and delivering proper hits I see a real prospect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnX6Z73G3tQ

as I do with Chance Casey, really looking forward to seeing that kid improve.

 

Tyvon Branch Breaks a Bone

So we got the win, unfortunately we lost one of our best players, saftey Tyvon Branch to a fractured fibula. Dennis Allen referred to the injury as “significant” and in my own humble opinion we should put him on the season ending injured reserve list – Branch that is, not Allen 😉 – as there is no point carrying healing players through a transitional season. Better to get another young player on the roster, to see if they have what it takes.

I love Branch’s play in the defensive backfield, but he CAN be replaced, and indeed Brandian Ross looked excellent on sunday covering fro him, as did Usama Young. Brandian Ross has the potential to fill the role full-time, remember one of the best field-coaches in the game Charles Woodson is there to lend a hand.

Either we sign Chance Casey or Shelton Johnson from our own practise squad, or we raid someone else’s – anyone have any good ideas for young talent other teams are nurturing on theirs. Or, of course, we could aim for one of the more experienced free agents that are available, such as former all-pro strong safety Kerry Rhodes. Remember Rhodes is only just over 30, so there should still be fuel in the tank for another couple of seasons, and I always rated him as one of the New York Jets best defensive players, why a player of his talent is still available is a bit of a mystery to me, but lets face it Charles Woodson was available for far too long given his talents. (Note: I’m not comparing the two, just stating some very good players sit in free agency for far too long)