With free agency underway and the draft around the corner, I have heard and read a thousand different scenarios on what Al and Tom will do to acquire talent for the 2009 season. I have no basis of fact as to what Mr. Davis will do, but it does appear that Al is working in close concert with Coach Cable.
It has been highly publicized that Tom wanted Kahlif Barnes, but Al said no due to contract and personal issues that Barnes has. Barnes can still be had, but he will come cheap in light of a possible four-game suspension by Roger Goodell, and no one else seems to be paying his price.
As I look at today's prospects, and read and listen to PFW and Mike Mayock (Al wanted to hire him as GM in 2007), and ignore ESPCRAP and Mel Kraper's incoherent ramblings, I have come to the conclusion that three things must take place in this year's Raider draft.
1. We must get two immediate impact players in a draft with so much first and second round talent.
2. We cannot take any chances with off-field issues in the high dollar rounds. With a seventh pick overall, we're looking at another $40 million investment.
3. Depth, depth, quality depth. This is a franchise starving for gems in rounds four through seven. What used to be commonplace is now an anomaly.
I am listing a selection of draft picks, one through seven, and a dream case scenario with the intangibles that go along with my selections, and why I believe this could and should happen.
Vontae Davis, Corner, Illinois (6'0", 195)
Al loves his corners big, physical and shutdown. It allows him to have another potential Haynes, Hayes combo to play man coverage. I know tackle and receiver are a priority, but Al likes sexy picks, and none or the last three tackles (Gallery OG, Collins, Stinchcomb) have panned out for tackle cash. Maclin is a possibility at WR, and some say Crabtree, but if he can't run Al a 40-yard dash, that will take him out of the running.
Brian Robiskie, Receiver, Ohio St. (6'3", 207)
Al would make a huge splash by trading up with a team like Philly or New England, who love and have a history of dumping first round picks for future picks. As the Raider faith full know, Brian's dad Terry played and coached for Al, and Al loves legacies. Brian's combine workout was amazing, the best of all the receivers, and he showed a lot of drive and understanding in the interview process. This pick can be had with 2010 first and fourth.
Max Unger, C/G/T, Oregon (6'5", 300)
Max is strong at the point of attack and athletic, with great feet and hands. He has a warrior mentality, will not need to be "coached up," and is a Tom Cable type of guy. The versatility to play all five line positions is not just a rarity; it also gives him the intellectual insight to understand and know everyone else's roles.
Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma (6'8", 343)
Davis loves the big, tall tackle with a terodactyle's wing span. Not a prototype ZBS lineman, but his productivity at OK cannot be ignored. Projects at right tackle in NFL career. This is a project that Tom loves; he will remind people of Lincoln Kennedy.
Zack Follet, OLB, California (6'1", 238)
Follet has fair size and speed, with a unrelenting motor. Ideal as an edge blitzer, with good pursuit to the run. He will have to be more disciplined, as he can run himself out of the play being to aggressive.
Mitch King, DL, Iowa (6'2", 275)
Although small, so was John Randle and La'roi Glover (former Raider), and their careers prove you cannot measure the heart and soul of a man. I personally have watched 75 percent of Mitch's games at Iowa (wife is a Hawkeye), and he consistently schools and bitch slaps larger opponents into submission. Needs to add about 10-15 lbs, but is so well-schooled by Norm Parker at Iowa he cannot be ignored, and would push slugs like Kelly, Sands, and Warren by being embarrassed by this little rookie.
Bear Pascoe, TE, Fresno St. (6'5", 257)
A backup to Zac is imperative. His size is good, he has good hands, and is a better than average blocker. Lacks athleticism, but makes up for it by wanting to be a Raider.
Chris Williams, KR-WR, New Mexico St. (5'8", 155)
Small in stature (Darren Sproles), his lightning fast speed and elusiveness make him an ideal weapon on special teams.
Making a splash in the draft is an Al Davis trademark, but a smart roll of the dice may be the cure to what ails the Raiders, as this 2009 season is ripe for the taking. I smile everyday watching the Broncos and Chiefs hire these overrated A-Holes to run their teams.
For once in a long while, Al made the smart hire, and may have the best coach in the western division (Josh McKiffin, Todd "dick" Haley, and Norvell "Loser" Turner), while the rest of the division may not be able to get out of their own way. Time to buy the right ingredients for a successful 2009.
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