Draft Grades – 2012

Draft Grades: Oakland Raiders

It’s tough to grade a team with no draft picks, so to make it simple I’ll focus solely on how the Oakland Raiders used the picks they had and ignore the questionable trades that got them here.

With their first selection in the 3rd round the Raiders reached to fill a need. Tony Bergstrom will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job, but he offers only a limited upgrade over their current interior linemen. The Raiders would have been better off settling for the best available player, even if it didn’t fill an immediate need.

Miles Burris will likely compete for the starting job at weak-side linebacker. However, his upside is limited and his role as a rookie may only come by default. His long-term value figures to be limited to special teams duty.

Jack Crawford is an intriguing prospect, but he’s never put it all together on the field. He has all the physical tools necessary to be an elite pass rusher, but he’s just never shown the ability to consistently play at a high level. He’s well worth a gamble in the 5th round, however, and could end up being a player who blossoms in the NFL.

What would Al Davis have to say about the Raiders drafting Juron Criner, who ran a 4.68 in the forty at the combine? The fact that the new Raiders regime would even consider Criner given his poor time shows a considerable shift in philosophy in Oakland. Speed issues aside, this may have been the Raiders best selection. Criner is built like a true No. 1 receiver and has shown that type of play-making ability in the past. He’s inconsistent, but is a nice developmental prospect to add in the 5th round.

Chris Bilukidi will add some much-needed depth to the interior defensive line. He’s needs to improve his overall strength, but has the raw measurables to offer some value as a developmental prospect.

Nathan Stupar projects as a special teams player but, given the lack of depth at linebacker in Oakland, he could see some fairly significant playing time and potentially compete for a starting job if no one else is brought in this offseason.

Considering what limited resources they had to work with, GM Reggie McKenzie and his staff did a nice job. It’s unreaslitic to expect any signficant contributors to come from this class, but the Raiders added enough players with some developmental value that they may find a gem or two.

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Raiders 2 Comments

Draft Needs: Oakland Raiders

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Oakland Raiders [full archive here].

Season Recap: The unfortunate passing of long-time owner Al Davis brought about a complete overhaul to the front office. New Head Coach Dennis Allen will have trouble adding much support in the upcoming draft with only five selections, the first coming at pick #95.

Team Needs:
1. Nose Tackle: With the likely switch to a 3-4 defense, which signs seem to point to, the Raiders have an opening at one of the most important positions: Nose tackle. The Raiders don’t have a pick until the end of the third round. In the best-case scenario, NT Josh Chapman from Alabama is available at that selection.

2. Outside Linebacker: The other position that is vital to running an effective 3-4 is OLB, which remains a weakness for Oakland. Dave Tollefson was signed from the Giants and should occupy one of the OLB spots, but the other remains up for grabs. Jonathan Massaquoi is an interesting prospect out of Troy and would be a great selection in round three.

3. Tight End: Kevin Boss was signed to a large contract last offseason, but was cut as a cap-casualty. The Raiders need a TE to replace Kevin Boss. Michael Egnew, Ladarius Green, and Deangelo Peterson are middle round prospects.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2012, Raiders Comments Off

Raiders continue to make moves that only the Raiders can make

What would you say if an NFL general manager said he was planning on spending his 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks in the upcoming draft on quarterbacks? Oh, and either a 1st or 2nd round pick in the following draft too?

It’s a ludicrous idea, but that’s exactly what the Raiders have done:

    • In April of 2010 the Raiders sent their 2012 4th-round pick to the Redskins for Jason Campbell.
    • Then this past August the Raiders spent their 2012 3rd-round pick in the supplemental draft on Terrelle Pryor.
    • And then this morning they sent their 2012 1st-round pick and a conditional pick in 2013 (reportedly either a 1st or 2nd rounder) for Carson Palmer.

Individually, none of the trades are terrible. They probably overpaid for Palmer and may have reached for Pryor, but neither move on its own would be enough to raise any serious concerns.

The collection of moves, however, epitomizes the dysfunction of the Raiders front office.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Raiders Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders won’t be contenders until Al Davis is dead. This is the sad but very real truth that Raiders fans have to live with. He continues to insist on making the draft day decision, despite the fact that looking at combine numbers appears to be his only participation in the scouting process.

Stefen Wisniewski was a decent selection in the 2nd round, even if it was predictable. Davis probably never saw Wisniewski play, but saw his last name on the combine list and immediately settled on the nephew of former Raider great Steve Wisniewski. He’ll compete for the starting job at center.

With his second pick in the draft Al Davis, very predictably, grabbed the fasted player in this year’s class, Demarcus Van Dyke. Unfortunately speed is about all Van Dyke has to offer. He’s undersized and saw limited playing time at Miami.

Joseph Barksdale satisfied Davis’ need for the biggest and strongest lineman in the class. Barksdale’s LSU career was underwhelming to say the least. He has a ton of potential, but never came close to living up to expectations in college.

Chimdi Chekwa had good value in the 4th round, even if Davis only stumbled onto him due to his 40 time. He is significantly more prepared for the NFL than Van Dyke and could compete for a starting job.

Davis went back for more speed with the selection of Taiwan Jones, possibly the fastest running back in this year’s class when healthy. Unfortunately he has a long history of injury problems and limited experience against top competition.

Denarius Moore showed steady improvement throughout his career and could be one of the better late-round picks in this draft if he continues to develop. However, it’s tough to see how he’ll fit into the offense in Oakland. Due to Davis’ obsession with size and speed they have about six receivers who are all equally mediocre.

Richard Gordon adds some much needed depth to the tight end position. He’ll compete for the backup job behind Zach Miller, assuming Miller is re-signed.

David Ausberry was a wasted pick and will struggle to make the final roster. There are at least six receivers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Once again, Al Davis put together a draft class heavy on size and speed and light on talent. A few starters may emerge from the class, but this isn’t a group that’s going to change the Raiders fortunes. They’re destined to continue to lose as along as Davis is calling the shots.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2011, Raiders 5 Comments

Draft Needs: Oakland Raiders

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Oakland Raiders [full archive here].

Season Recap – Tom Cable led the Raiders to an 8-8 record, marking their first winning season since the 2002 season. The Raiders finally began playing with passion and determination, and finished undefeated in the division. A big part of the success was Hue Jackson and the offensive scheme he employed – Darren McFadden topped a 1000 yards and new QB Jason Campbell led some exciting game-winning drives. At seasons end, Owner Al Davis felt Hue Jackson was better qualified to lead the Raiders, so he fired Tom Cable. In 2011, Jackson looks poised to bring the Raiders back to the playoffs.

Needs:
1. Cornerback
– With Nnamdi Asomugha set to depart; the Raiders have a hole to fill. Stanford Routt was resigned to a huge contract, but he struggled in the second half of the season. If Asomugha does not return, the Raiders have to find a new number 1. With no pick in the first round, the Raiders are likely to sign a free agent corner. I bet Antonio Cromartie appeals to Al Davis. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Raiders Comments Off

10 teams looking for a new starting quarterback

Nearly one-third of the league could have new starting quarterbacks by September. Due to a greater demand than supply, it’s likely that not all of these teams find themselves a new signal caller, but here are the top 10 teams we’ve identified as most likely to have a new quarterback in 2011.

10. Broncos
It sounds as though Josh McDaniels was the lone Tebow support in Denver, and with him gone it seems likely that the Broncos will consider other options. John Fox has indicated that he likes Tim Tebow, but he also isn’t ready to commit to a starting quarterback. They’re unlikely to address this need in the draft, but signing a veteran is a strong possibility.

9. Raiders
Jason Campbell is still under contract but their other four quarterbacks (seriously, they have four other quarterbacks on the roster) are free agents. Keeping Campbell is a definite possibility, but you just never know what Al Davis as in mind. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them trading up into the 1st-round (they already traded their own 1st-round pick) in an effort to land Cam Newton or Jake Locker.

8. Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent and may return, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank. They would certainly love to have Hasselbeck around to groom a young quarterback, but I don’t expect the Seahawks to commit to him as the starter. If he wants a guarantee that he’ll be a starter for the next year or two, he may need to go elsewhere.

7. Dolphins
Owner Stephen Ross has stated that he wants a creative, hurry-up offense in 2011, and that won’t be happening with Chad Henne under center. The Dolphins have grown tired of his slow development and seem ready to move on. Drafting a quarterback (possibly Newton) is a possibility, but they may prefer to bring in a veteran in an effort to turn things around quickly.

6. Bills
With the 3rd pick in the draft the Bills could have their pick of the quarterbacks, and Blaine Gabbert is a definite possibility. But the reason I don’t rank them higher is because I think they’ll strongly consider bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back for another season. He was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. The Bills may even draft Gabbert, or someone in the 2nd or 3rd round, and let them sit for a year behind Fitzpatrick.

5. Titans
Vince Young is as good as gone, and Kerry Collins is a free agent. However, I wouldn’t rule out Collins’ return. The Titans are in position to draft a quarterback (Gabbert, Newton or Mallett) and I suspect Jeff Fisher will prefer to keep Collins around to help groom their future franchise quarterback.

4. Redskins
After getting benched in favor of Rex Grossman, it’s hard to imagine Donovan McNabb returning to Washington. It’s equally difficult to image the Redskins sticking with Grossman for 2011. With the 10th pick in the draft Mike Shanahan is in position to select his quarterback of the future. Ryan Mallett and Newton are both strong possibilities.

3. Vikings
We know Favre won’t be back (and I actually believe him this time) and Tarvaris Jackson is a free agent. Joe Webb performed far better than anyone could have expected of a guy who was drafted as a wide receiver, but I can’t imagine Leslie Frazier sticking with him for 2011. The Vikings will either draft a quarterback (Newton or Mallett) or bring in a veteran (possibly Kevin Kolb).

2. Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the Cardinals quarterback situation entering last season and I’m guessing he’s even less pleased after seeing how it played out.  Drafting Blaine Gabbert is a possibility, but I suspect Whisenhunt would prefer to bring a veteran aboard, as he did last offseason. Either way, their opening day starter is definitely not on the current roster.

1. 49ers
Alex Smith and Troy Smith are both free agent and I would be very surprised if either returned.  I currently have them selecting Gabbert in my mock draft, but trading for Kevin Kolb is also possibility. Another option is signing a veteran, such as Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace, to keep the seat warm for whoever Jim Harbaugh choses to groom for the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 6

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Compared to other quarterbacks in the league Bradford’s numbers are mediocre at best. But for a rookie, he has more than lived up to expectations.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez was expected to take on a more prominent role in the passing game due to the departure of Moss and he stepped with with six receptions against the Ravens.

3. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best falls down the board as he continues to remain unproductive running the ball. He’s still a weapon as a receiver, but he hasn’t looked like a complete player lately.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has clearly stepped up as the Bucs top receiver. He’s been targeted 40 times by Josh Freeman, 16 more than other other wide receiver on the team.

5. Chris Ivory, Saints
He’s only started two games, but it’s impossible to ignore Ivory’s 158-yard breakout performances against the Bucs.

DEFENSE
1.Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi regains the top spot after record a sack and two pressures for the second straight game. The Dolphins pass rush has noticeably improved since he joined the starting lineup in Week 3.

2. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen losses his stop atop the rankings after a rough week against the Falcons in which he got burned for a touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas played a key role in keeping the Bears passing attack in check. He isn’t as well rounded as Allen, but he’s is emerging as an elite safety in coverage.

4. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a one-dimensional player at this point in his career, but he does that one thing very well. He’s arguably the most dominant pass-rushing interior lineman in the league, not just among rookies.

5. Lamarr Houston, Raiders
Houston doesn’t have the sack totals to get much attention, but he’s been quietly consistent and effective as a pass rusher all season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Seahawks Comments Off

10 Observations from Week 3 in the NFL

1. The Steelers are now heavy favorites to win the AFC in my opinion. A 3-0 start with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch at quarterback is no fluke. As long as they stay healthy, they’re the deepest team in that conference and no one can stop them. But health was an issue for them last year, so nothing is guaranteed.

2. I’d like to know the real story behind Trent Edwards’ release in Buffalo. How does a Week 1 starter not even have a spot on the roster two weeks later? There has to be something going on behind the scenes that we all aren’t aware of.

3. It’s nice to see Darren McFadden finally living up to expectations. He went over 100 yards again this week and has 345 on the season. Now if only Oakland could get some consistency at quarterback…

4. The 49ers are panicking already by firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. How long before they panic some more and pull Alex Smith in favor of David Carr or Troy Smith? He’s already thrown five interceptions this season and I can’t imagine Mike Singletary will have the patience to let him keep up that pace for much longer.

5. That was a great road win for the Titans against the Giants this weekend. But I think we’ll know a lot more about the Titans over the next three weeks. They’re at home against the Broncos, then at Dallas, then at Jacksonville on Monday night. All three of those games look winnable. But they could just as easily go 1-2. If they come out of that stretch with a 5-1 record, they could be headed towards a playoff berth.

6. The Chargers are lucky Marcus McNeill is coming to the rescue soon. But they better hope his temporary replacement Brandyn Dombrowski doesn’t get Phillip Rivers killed in the meantime. It seemed like Rivers was under pressure all day against the Seahawks – a team that doesn’t even have a great pass rush.

Cleveland Browns

Peyton Hillis nearly led the Browns to an upset in Baltimore

7. Peyton Hillis is a beast. His 144 yards on Sunday were the most the Ravens have ever allowed to a division opponent. That’s in a division that has featured Jerome Bettis, Corey Dillon, Eddie George and plenty of other quality running backs over the years.

8. Want proof that Peyton Manning is a miracle worker? Austin Collie is the NFL’s leader in receiving yards.

9. I think the Broncos are a lot better than I expected, but they’re still going to finish in the bottom third of the league. They don’t have a running game, and no one on that roster appears ready to emerge as the answer to that problem. I’m even starting to wonder if it’s time to consider Knowshon Moreno a bust? It’s still early, but it rarely takes 1st-round running backs this long to develop. It’s not as though he’s playing in an inept offense. The Broncos have a solid passing game and a respectable offensive line. He should be producing by now.

10. The Chiefs may be 3-0, but I still put their chances of making the playoffs at well less than 50 percent. They’re off this week, then at Indy and at Houston. They’ll be 3-2 by mid-October and looking more like the team we all expected them to be.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Steelers, Titans Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Week 2

OFFENSE
1. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best is the runaway leader among offensive rookies after two weeks. He ranks second among rookies in rushing yards and leads all rookies in receiving yards. He has given the Lions offense a new look and is emerging as one of the most dangerous playmakers in the league.

2. Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Shipley caught five passes again this past week, giving him 10 for 124 yards on the season. He has emerged as legitimate a third option behind Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco and has given the Bengals perhaps the best trio of receivers in the league.

3. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Bryant caught just two passes this week, but both were big 26-yard plays. He also returned a put 62 yards for a touchdown and is averaging 19.3 yards per return on the season.

4. Sam Bradford, Rams
The Rams scaled back the workload for Bradford in Week 2, as he attempted just 25 passes. He is completing 57.5 percent of his passes and averaging 5.3 yards per attempt – both mediocre numbers, but impressive for a rookie on a team like the Rams.

5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez is emerging as one of the Patriots most explosive weapons this season. He ranks second among rookies this season with 146 receiving yards on just seven catches.

DEFENSE
1. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi played a key role in stopping the Vikings last week, and is emerging as a leader on the Dolphins defense. He is the most well-balanced rookie linebacker in terms of ability as a pass rusher and run stuffer.

2. Rolando McClain, Raiders
McClain anchored the Raiders defense in their win over the Rams last week. He already looks like one of the best middle linebackers against the run and the Raiders defense has improved as a result.

3. Derrick Morgan, Titans
Morgan recorded a sack for the second straight week but that’s not the only reason he’s ranked. He has done an excellent job holding up at the point of attack and the Titans run defense has improved as a result.

4. T.J. Ward, Browns
Ward has been one of the few bright spots for the Browns this season. He has been like an extra linebacker for the Browns run defense… which they have definitely needed.

5. Brandon Graham, Eagles
Graham picked up his first career sack last week, and looks like the best pure rookie pass rusher in the league. However, he’s being used in a rotation almost exclusively as a pass rusher which is why he isn’t ranked higher.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Titans Comments Off