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.

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Chimdi Chekwa returns

So just one day after being cut by the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders resigned CB Chimdi Chekwa, a move I like a lot. Why?

(1) He’s got some experience, having been drafted by us in 2011, and our most experienced CB on the roster prior to Chekwa signing was DJ Hayden

(2) he’s fast

(3) he’s a great gunner on special teams

(4) he’ll come cheap now he’s been through Patriot cuts

(5) he’s improved every year he’s been on the roster

Our top 3 CB’s right now are DJ Hayden, Keith McGill and TJ Carrie, then its a straight battle with Chimdi Chekwa, James Dockery, Neiko Thorpe (great height), Dexter McDonald, Rob Daniel, Travell Dixon and SaQwan Edwards for 2 spots, that’s going to be a really interest watch.

Tiny bit of clarity on UDFA, its Robertson Daniel (not Daniel Robertson)

A little bit of clarity on one of the Oakland Raiders UDFA signings, the BYU CB that we signed is called Robertson Daniels and not Daniel Robertson as I’ve seen it misquoted in a few places.

This kid is long and fast, and with a bit of coaching could be a really good player. What I really like about BYU CB Robertson Daniel is his man-coverage skills, couple these with his raw materials and we could have a real player on our hands. My ideal CB would be plus six foot tall and run a sub 4.5 40 time, he does both of these things, unfortunately he’s raw, but that is what training camp and coaching are all about. We don’t have huge depth at CB, hence any standout performer in camp will likely make a push for the roster, lets see what Daniel Robertson has to offer.

Love the UDFA signing of Milton Williams

So we signed a lot of players over the draft weekend, and I will get to analyzing them all one by one, but first I thought I’d bring to your attention a bit of a super-sleeper that very few of the ‘experts’ have mentioned – Milton Williams.

In the raft of UDFA signings one of the unpolished gems that we picked up was Milton Williams, a WR from Delaware State. This kid is big, is athletic (makes a great jump-ball target), has good hands and runs real fast, see for yourself on his highlight film (below).

One thing that really stood out to me is that our new WR also has experience as a punter, always worth having cover in the squad for other positions. I’d be very interested in us maintaining work on his punting as you never know when injuries will hit.

It may take some time, as it tends to with UDFA, but this kid has real potential and I will be watching closely for him in training camp….expect flashes on genius.

Raider’s Tame Lions

So there we have it, we still do actually know how to win, it wasn’t easy though and not everybody excelled. Very simply the 27-26 victory over the Detroit Lions came about thanks to a 2Q Darren McFadden run, a 3Q Jake Murphy catch (from Derek Carr) and then a sweet 19-yard pass from tough-as-nails third stringer Matt McGloin to the increasingly impressive Brice Butler.

Onto Brice Butler, this kid was the key positive take-away from the Lions game, in fact much of camp to date, as has been young CB T.J.Carrie (who by the way put up an excellent punt return today). Butler has great hands, is really really fast and simply looks like he should be starting alongside Rod Streater and James Jones.

Recent displays from our receivers have, however, given me less reasons to be impressed with Andre Holmes and Greg Little recently, and really want to see Juron Criner push them. My WR’s to make the 53 at present are James Jones, Rod Streater, Brice Butler, Darius Moore (as he offers something different) and then whoever impresses most out of Holmes/Criner/Little going forward (who drops the least at this rate!!).

I actually thought Matt Schaub looked good in this game, his passing is crisp (something we haven’t seen here for a long time – I don’t miss Terrelle Pryors one little bit) and he remained calm despite some slightly lackluster line play. The performance of the starting OL definitely worried me, although the Lions at times were blitzing on mass, bringing 7 players straight up on Shaub at times….despite this he looked good.

Other big plus, TE Mychal Rivera – what great moves he showed on that pass from Schaub, I see them putting up great numbers together this year….there is one for the fantasy sleeper picks for 2014, Mychal Rivera, getable for $1 in auction drafts or often on the waivers after the draft (as long as no Raiders fans are in your auction).

Roll on Oakland, we beat a team many sages have challenging for the superbowl this year.

Getting us out out of a Tight-End

With David Ausberry having just had surgery and Nick Kasa likely out for the season we are in a little bit of a proverbial pickle. But don’t panic Raider-Nation as RaidaLove has a couple of ideas, chiefly the possibility of us picking up a free agent…..”but there aren’t any out there” I hear you scream….well lets look at the possibilities:-

(1) Kyle Auffray – the Cleveland Browns just waived this kid, who was previously on the NE Patriots roster… “if he was that good surely they’d hold onto him?” – number one I’m not called Shirely, and number 2 have you seen the TE’s on the Browns and Pats rosters. Auffray has great size (6’6″ and 255 lbs), speed (timed at 4.6 seconds over 40 yards), is a decent blocker and has good hands, to be honest I can see him starting for us not simply being a backup. Another thing I like about this kid is that he can also play backup punter!!
http://www.thefootballeducator.com/kyle-auffray-tight-end-every-teams-radar/

(2) we wait until the roster cuts, and pick one of the numerous talented TE’s that are bound to be cut (watch Detroit). This could be a great strategy, particularly as it means we also give Brian Leonhardt and Jake Murphy a bit more time. Murphy has reportedly been impressing in camp, but his drop against the Vikings in the first pre-season game do worry me

(3) we trade for someone, I guess this would definitely work, particularly if trade someone we are looking to cut….any ideas here readers?

(4) we make do with Murphy, Leonhardt and Rivera….another distinct possibility, particularly as Ausberry is reportedly recovering well (Kasa looks like he’s out for the season)

(5) We switch multi-talented FB/RB/HB Marcel Reece out wide a bit more often – this could be the real gold (and a great sleeper for fantasy leagues), and what I envisage them doing, once again particularly if Ausberry heels quick.

Let me know your thought Raider-nation, and we can really get to the bottom of this particular ‘tight-end’.

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.