Competition Will Be Tough at DE in Oakland

Al's WingmanAnalyst IMay 11, 2009

It doesn’t look good for Derrick Burgess to be on the sidelines in 2009 mini-camp, whether he has stomach flu or not...


Burgess has been trying to ride the coattails of his masterful 2005 All Pro season in which he racked up 16 sacks and led the NFL, also breaking the Raiders single season record. 


In 2006, he made the pro bowl again, tallying 11 sacks. 


In 2007, he still had eight sacks, but has been a spotty player on the field over that span of time, nursing and fighting off injuries.


In 2008 his sacks total dropped to under four.


So the question is, how reliable is Derrick Burgess at this stage of his career? 


He is 31 (almost an old man in NFL years), and is in a contract season in 2009.


To me, it is obvious Burgess will not be re-signed. 


The most convincing evidence of this theory is he has been at odds with Al Davis over his offseason workout routine.  It’s no secret Undead Al prefers players in house utilizing the state of the art workout facilities at Raiders HQ.


When roll call is taken, Burgess is usually not in the house.


If only it was that simple. 


Prima donna players like to be with their families in the offseason.  Jerry Porter liked to train on his own in Florida.  Jamarcus Russell also makes his home in the deep south. 


The list goes on.


Let’s face it.  It’s just not easy to satisfy Undead Al’s demands.  If players don’t like living in the Bay Area during the offseason, they are going to show some resistance.


In the case of Derrick Burgess, he thought he had some leeway due to his All Pro status and value as a sackmaster.


How times change very quickly in the NFL.


Undead Al knows young guys are hungry to make an impact, will do what it takes to make the roster, and stick to the program by training at HQ.


Al has been steadily loading for bear at Defensive End the last few seasons with some good prospects.


Let’s look at the current players who are seeking a roster spot and playing time.


Jay Richardson has shown some inspired play at times.  He was supposed to be a lock to hold down the position.  However, savvy local beat writer Jerry McDonald has this to say about Richardson’s play:


“Right DE Jay Richardson has had 22 starts in two seasons and his strength at 6'6", 280 pounds is supposed to be at the point of attack as a base end. But Richardson too often fails to hold his edge or is pushed aside because he plays too high, resulting in rushing gains in his direction.”


It so happens right end is where Trevor Scott has been living up as well at times and in minicamp. 


Scott is a guy nearly everyone inside and outside the Raiders organization is extremely high on.  Even before he took the field, he was touted as a great pick.


Can’t argue with a sixth rounder getting into the mix so soon and making an impact. 


My one critique of Trevor Scott is I have seen him get burned in run coverage.  He is a pin the ears back and rush the passer type of player, or at least that was what was being asked of him in his rookie season. 


Speed backs will blow past guys like that who have tunnel vision on the QB.  That tends to happen when opposing offensive coordinators and aware QBs switch up the play to avoid the rush. 


If you don't believe that and think Trevor Scott is unbeatable, then watch the games a bit more closely.  Scott is quick though, and if the coaches do their job, he can get better at developing his overall game so he does not get burned on running plays.


As for his pass rushing skills, Scott looks like he could really break out and be a leader for the Raiders in sack totals.


All the young guys, though talented, will have their work cut out for them to make the team and earn playing time.  It will be interesting to see if Jay Richardson will still be a starter and how they handle the playing time of Burgess. 


I would think (and hope) they utilize Burgess as a situational pass rusher and not an every down guy. 


There is too much young talent to hold back.


Greyson Gunheim may have a legitimate shot to make the final roster this season.  He played very well in camp in 2008 and in the preseason.  Though he got caught in a numbers game and was relegated to the practice squad in 2008. 


It is likely Trevor Scott got Gunheim’s roster spot last season.  Gunheim is on Al's radar though.  He was promoted to the regular squad late in the season and played in some games in 2008. 


In 2009, he looks primed for another go at it.  There is no question Gunheim can help the team at defensive end, not just as a special teamer.


Ex-Missouri Tiger Stryker Sulak has earned praise in minicamp as a legitimate NFL DE. 


With his size, this makes perfect sense.  Sulak, along with fellow draftee Matt Shaughnessy from Wisconsin are forming a good nucleus of young guys to handle the end positions. 


The Raiders are certainly going with youth and why not.


Derrick Gray has been with the team a few seasons, let go, and re-signed since he was not claimed waivers.  He plays sparingly and is training camp fodder. I would look for him to not make the final roster.



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