One of the long-shots on the Oakland Raider’s roster that I am more excited about is OLB “Ray-Ray” Armstrong. The former University of Miami LB has serious intensity and according to reports from OTA’s has really been impressing.

The thing I like best about “Ray-Ray” is his passion, this kid obviously loves football and in a LB-grouping that includes Khalil Mack, Sio Moore (Mr Intensity himself) and Malcolm Smith it is quite possible that a real quality grouping emerges.

In the past Ray-Ray Armstrong has sometimes struggled with missed tackles and poor positional play, but (if OTA reports are true) he’s really improved this offseason. Lets give Ray-Ray a chance, he only has a couple of years experience at LB, having played S in college….a plus being here his coverage skills exceeded many backup LBs.


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”.

…. 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!!!

It’s Oh So Quiet….

It might be very very quiet in Oaktown right now but don’t think nothing is happening behind the scenes. The Raiders are still preparing, improving and building, even if alot of these improvements are mental (and not physical). The shackles of yesteryear are easing and the fight is returning. Players like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Khalil Mack, Austin Howard, MJD, Matt Schaub, Tarell Brown and James Jones give us a more professional edge.

It is on the lines, both offensively and defensively, that I think the greatest improvements will be seen, and these will spread (like rapid-fire) across the team. Not only will MJD and Darren McFadden find running lanes, and hence put up greater numbers, but so too this will lessen the pressure on the QB and the WR’s, improving their own performances by default.

Then onto defence the DL looks formidable, with young and old talent making for a strong rotation. This coupled with our already excellent LB-corps, which with the addition of Mack and a fit again Burris and Maiave just got even better, will prove very hard to run upon. A good run defence makes the pass defence’s job easier, and with talent like Brown and Rogers coming in to support Charles woodson and Tyron Branch (and hopefully a fully fit DJ Hayden) I expect big things from the Raiders, or at least my usual pessimism is now finally on the wane.

….I for one was simply pleased to read that Jeron Mastrud had signed with the Chicago Bears and so wouldn’t be polluting my eyes any more in silver’n black.

Donald Penn impressing early on

The Oakland Raiders are reportedly very happy with former Tampa LT Donald Penn. He’s bringing a very level-headed attitiute to the Raiders OL, and impressing everyone with his quick feet. Not only is Penn huge but he is also incredibly mobile and will surprise many who expect a reduction in performance at LT….don’t Donald Penn is an uptick at LT.

Unfortunatley Donald Penn is 31, so realisticlaly can’t have more than another couple of seasons in the tank, but this should be more than enough time to see in Menelik Watson will be ready to step in as his eventual replacement.

(note: Penn says “I see signs (that Mack will be a strong passrusher)….the way he puts his foot in the ground, to change direction, he could be a DB”)

Front 7

A quick look at our defensive front-7 going into the 2014 season puts it into perspective how much better the Oakland Raiders now look.

Starting at the two DE positions its former-pro bowlers, Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, then either side of them at OLB its last years best rookie Sio Moore, bound to be better with a second training camp under his belt and this year’s defensive stud Khalil Mack…..that my friends is awesome. Looking across the rosters of the other teams you will struggle to find better combos.

Then moving over to DT, we now have Antonio Smith and Justin Ellis, an excellent QB-hastling, run-stuffing combo, backed up by the very imporessive Stacy McGee and Pat Sims

At MLB then we have Roach, plus a decent bit of depth, particularly at LB….we could be real good next year.


With the 5th Pick of the 2014 NFL Draft The Raiders Select….

Khalil Mack…..cue screams of excitement and cheers of joy.

The adrenalin started flowing, big-time, when the Jaguars made the somewhat questionable selection of Blake Bortles.

Amazement grew when we saw how much the Buffalo Bills had paid, in picks, to move up just a few places. Basically the Bills had agreed to pay two first rounders and one later round pick for the Browns pick….Then I got a bit depressed, as I realised the Bills would probably be selecting their hometown boy Khalil Mack – probably the best player in the draft – but the old proverbial champagne was well and truly on ice as the Bills announced they were selecting Sammy Watkins. (Mr Watkins looked worryingly short, to me, as he approached the podium in his badly fitting suit).

OK, so the best player in this years draft has fallen to the Oakland Raiders, at number 5, it’s a no-brainer right, we select Mack? If you have any history as a Raiders fan you know that isn’t strictly true. Indeed, it’s normally wrong. A small part of all of our minds feared the worse … who ran the fastest 40-time at this year’s combine? Surely rumours of us signing Derek Carr at number 5 were over-done. We all remember the non-signing of Star Lotulelei last year.

….. cue insane celebrations, mass punching of air, etc, etc, as the commissioner announces that “with the 5th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders select Khalil Mack”. A defence of Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Sio Moore, Antonio Smith AND Khalil Mack is made for knocking over Peyton et al…..the AFC West never looked like more fun.

Draft Board

I’m posting a very simple “Top 5” draft board – I’m keeping to the top 5 as the multitude of possibilities draft day trades result in make considering their possibility too many and varied – anyway the top 5 are as follows (and I’m going with best imo available player, as I don’t think we have the pressing needs of recent years):-

1. Jadeveon Clowney – incredibly unlikely to fall to us, this prototype DL would be a dream-come-true for us, but I just don’t see it happening so I won’t write any more

2. Greg Robinson –  we don’t really need an OL, but this kid is one of the best prospects in years, and could start (and excel) and LT now. Believe me Greg Robinson blows Veldheer out of the water. In fact I love the possibility of a Robinson-Boothe-Wiz-Howard-Watson offensive line (on this last point, yes Menelik Watson, I’m really excited about this kid, a fit Watson is going to prove a lot of the doubters wrong in 2014, nice critical peace on Watson in 2014 here )

3. Khalil Mack – probably the most ready-for-action player in this year’s draft, Mack brings excellence to the OLB position. We don’t massively need Khalil Mack, as OLB is one of the stronger (its all relative reader!) positions on our roster, but players of Mack’s talent don’t come around very often, so to pass on his excellent LB-skills would prove foolish. Mack would be a stud in our D, solidifying a group that already looks like improving dramatically in 2014. 

4. Teddy Bridgewater – this is one of the positions that I think I disagree with most other analysts on, more than any other. To me TB is by far the best QB in this draft, and for that matter probably the best since Andrew Luck (I include RGIII in this), and the window he excels in the most is the mental side of the game. TB is a calm pocket QB, with the ability to run but a skill he doesn’t overly rest upon. TB would be an excellent QB to sit for a season-and-a-half behind Schaub, so he can perfect his skills while adding another 10 lbs or so (as his frame does look a little too skinny at this point for the nfl).

5. Sammy Watkins – an excellent WR, would instantaneously bring big-play abilities to our offence, the reason I have him going at 5 is really just because I think the other 4 are better, no disrespect to Watkins who will rock-th-nfl for sure.