As much as the Nation is screaming bloody murder for Crabtree or another WR in the first round, and a case can even be made how Mr. Davis is drooling in his silver and black chair over the 4.3 WR DHB.
I am here to point out the most logical draft day plan the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders has outlined for this year, if he gets his way.
First of all, lets not forget that Tom Cable is a offensive line coach at heart and is considered a master teacher of the ZB scheme. Secondly Cable has had a lot of experience as an offensive coordinator prior to him assuming the role last year.
The last point I will make regarding Coach Cable is that he is no spring chicken he knows all to well that his dreams of being a head coach in the NFL will most likely never come again so he will maximize his efforts with the silver and black. I use these words to describe a man who is not willing to compromise anything.
Including making the unpopular decisions like ousting multimillionaire contract CB DeAngelo Hall, Benching former first round pick Michael Huff, Curry and Henderson, signing cast offs like Harris. Now on to the draft.
The current OT roster reads:
No. 69 James Marten 6'8" 310 24yrs old, claimed off of waivers from the cowboys who drafted him in the third round of the 07 draft 67th overall. Great value and has tremendous size for the position. Classic Cable proclamation project without heavy consequence a la Kwame Harris.
No. 64 Erik Pears 6'8" 305 26yrs old, picked up from the hated Broncos where he started at LT for the '06 and RT in the '07 season. Missing the '08 campaign on the reserve/non-football illness for an appendectomy surgery. Another physical specimen for the position with valuable experience.
No. 70 Khalif Barnes 6'5" 325 26yrs old, veteran pick up from Jacksonville. A former second round pick 52 overall in the '05 draft, started 57 of the 60 games played for over the past four seasons with the Jaguars. In his first 11 games as a rookie did not allow a single sack in the '05 season.
In the '06 and '07 seasons played well at LT. Struggled in the '08 season with penalties and sacks allowed. If we can get him back to his early career form we could be looking at our LT. Watch for the battle during preseason between Henderson and Barnes to record some high readings from the rector scale.
No. 78 Marcus Johnson 6'6" 320 27yrs old, signed this offseason for depth and added competition. A former early round pick at 49th overall, can play right guard or right tackle, also has playing experience.
No. 75 Mario Henderson 6'7" 300 24yrs old, a third round pick acquired from New England. Sat out most of the '07 season but saw action late in the '08 season and showed flashes of being a player that Oakland moved up to get.
Taking the starting role away from Harris is not much of an accomplishment considering almost anybody with a pulse would have been an improvement.
With Cornell Green last years RT all but guaranteed a one way ticket out of Alameda at best will find himself filling a back up role at best and may be released from the Raiders due to his off field issues. The Raiders picked up some decent candidates for the RT position. Decent is the operative word.
Both Erik Pears and Marcus Johnson can make drastic improvements under Cable's tutelage. However banking on either of these two or the even younger and greener James Marten would be foolish by all standards. I realize I left out a few OT's but they provide no more than practice squad/depth at the position.
Cable said his major task is to protect JR. We have so many holes as a team and yes we do have some great young talent with great potential. However, if we address our offensive line then we would be able to focus on other areas of need like our defensive line.
Back to the OT need, if we can't buy JR time to scan the field and I'm not talking the forever time consuming seven-step draw type of time but more of a consistent type of time as in what the basic definition of the word "protection" implies. Where JR can feel more comfortable and on occasions exercise the arm and let one fly.
To say the Raiders have addressed their offensive line by signing and trading for the players currently on the roster is ludicrous. Yes, we have added much needed depth no doubt and based on the mentioned players there could be some pleasant surprises found among this group.
None of these players have proved anything in terms of being wanted or quality franchise starters.
This is why Coach Cable will use the No. 7 overall pick even if it means coming to somewhat of a clash with owner Al Davis and pick his franchise tackle. This pick alone unfortunately does not solidify our O-line. Aside form Satele who we traded Miami for all we have is a 35 year old back up in Wade.
Morris is nothing more than a long snapper who has value as a special teams player who can get down the field and make a plays.
As much as we need a R. Brace or P. Jerry, we don't really help ourselves with out picking up OC A. Mack or M. Unger in the second round. Satele whether we like it or not was traded by GM Bill Parcells for one reason or another. Satele and most likely Unger will compete for the job and that's good news for the Raiders.
At OG we have reborn Gallery a lock at LG and Carlisle penciled in at RG. Paul McQuistan the Art Shell pick is bigger and younger than Cooper and if he does not push Cooper out of the starter role this year I don't think he ever will.
I personally think Marcus Johnson if not the next starting RT can easily take the spot and give Oakland another, former early round draft pick projected at LT, imposing RG, creating more balanced power at the line.
So why are so many begging we go WR when a far better WR Calvin Johnson drafted a few years back by the Lions could not help the team from going a perfect 0-16. Do you really think Crabtree, Maclin or DHB are on the same level as Calvin Johnson?
I did not think so. What more better way to help JR than to give him the protection and time needed to throw strong accurate passes with excellent form and mechanics instead of the usual running for his life throwing on the run with obviously horrible form.
Our offensive line is what has historically made us one of the best teams in football. Why do we stray so far from our roots? Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Don Mosebar, Bob Brown, Ron Mix, Lincoln Kennedy, Steve Wisniewski are reasons this franchise owns three Lombardi trophies.
If you don't believe that games are won in the trenches then you clearly don't know this game.
By addressing our offensive line Oakland can truly unleash its three headed monster running game and evaluate two key elements on offense. The QB position and his ability to lead and run the offense and make the necessary plays down the field.
JR may or may not be the answer at QB but at least they will be able to evaluate him as a QB and in turn evaluate the receiving corps as well. This will also bode well for the defense because the longer the offense stays on the field the longer the "D" can stay fresh.
Speaking of WR's, Higgins 4.27 5-11 and Schilens 4.38 6-4 give Oakland the speed to go long and amass yards after the catch. I think Schilens should be the No. 1 wideout because of his size and speed, plus he is already wearing No. 81 :) and Higgins can continue to develop as the No. 2 wideout.
Although I think the Walker experiment has been a complete disaster and has set this franchise back, the Raiders have too much invested in Walker to just let him go. I do see Walker as the possession receiver we lacked last year, someone to make the tough catches in the middle of the field as he as nice size at 6'3".
Arman Shields and Todd Watkins can also push for the third receiver. Holland AKA Mr. Irrelevant, Carter and Lelie add competition and depth only because they will not draft a receiver this year.
TE's, RB's and FB's are excellent with starting TE Zach Miller. A better offensive line will only free up the talented player and push him into the pro bowl. Fargas is an excellent leader and role model for Oakland's younger star RB's Bush and McFadden.
Oren O'Neil has shown superior blocking skills, he should only get better with time. TE's and FB's still need depth that can be filled via free agency.
Whew, that was a load. We covered the first two picks and ALL of the offensive needs and positions. Now let's talk about what the Cable Guy will do with the remainder of the picks. Could it be defense?
Part two of this article will follow in the up coming days.