If Mike Lombardi’s information is legitimate, the trade rumor of the Raiders offering to ship sack specialist Derrick Burgess to New England for offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and quarterback Kevin O’Connell sends a fairly strong message.
For starters, why would the Raiders be seeking depth at QB if they brought in Bruce Gradkowski as the No. 3 guy? Presuming they intend to see JaMarcus Russell much improved and have a healthy Jeff Garcia as backup, trading a premier pass rusher for a third string QB prospect seems unnecessary.
Trading for a solid offensive tackle prospect makes more sense, but as any good GM would intend to do, moves Al Davis has already made in the offseason (with Tom Cable's input) should have shored up the line. You can never have enough depth at OT though, so we’ll give Al the benefit there is logic to the proposal.
In this case, however, it would seem a stretch the Pats would give up Vollmer, who is seen as a viable line prospect. Nor would they want to diminish their depth at QB.
For the Raiders to even make this offer is like saying, "We don't know how to draft or develop our own quarterbacks or offensive linemen."
In Raiders' OTA reports thus far, we are told Gradkowski struggles with snaps and pretty much is not much help. He's even worse than Marques Tuiasosopo for third stringer, which is a recipe for disaster should we ever need the third stringer in the game.
I know, it’s still early—give Gradkowski a chance to at least throw a few interceptions in preseason before getting on his case.
O'Connell was good but unheralded coming out of college, much like Tom Brady and Matt Cassel were but turned out to be pretty good. It would seem Al is relying on the Pats' good judgment to have drafted those guys and thinks O'Connell might be of the same stock.
The question is, if the Pats can be successful in identifying serviceable QB talent to take a chance on fitting their system, why can't the Raiders?
Why do they need to ask the Patriots for their draft picks?
Clearly, the Raiders have not had an adequate system to develop QBs since Jon Gruden's tenure (Bill Callahan and Marc Trestman merely maintained the vestiges of Gruden's work).
It is obvious the Pats are one of very few teams willing to do business with Al Davis. I would speculate that's because the Pats have a smart front office, and they are confident they will get the better end of the deal. How could they not, considering the Randy Moss trade?
The Raiders have had equal chances to upgrade their QBs and their OL through the draft and free agency.
Until this season, they have languished in rebuilding their OL, still thinking they had an actual building block in Robert Gallery and trying to convince us Barry Sims was an answer at left tackle.
For his part, Gallery has never proven himself to be anything except average on his best day either at guard or tackle. He’s a major disappointment.
Since Gallery's move to guard and having given up on Sims, they have brought in nobodies to play tackle. Those nobodies have provided less than adequate protection for their overpaid prima donna, misfire of a top draft pick Russell as well as the guys who preceded him.
Josh McCown needed to use his wheels to constantly escape pressure, and Daunte Culpepper's bum knees were put to the test as well.
We already know what happened to Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter—nothing good. Any QB needs time to throw, so that pretty much is the name of that tune.
So if Lombardi’s rumor is true, it spells out a few deficiencies with the Raiders' scouting and personnel decision-making.
1. Lack of ability to draft and groom a QB. (Rich Gannon was a stroke of luck. If you recall, he was a journeyman before he arrived in Oakland. By sheer force of will and behind a decent OL, he made himself into an all-pro).
2. Lack of ability or willingness to build a stable OL.
If Paul Hackett is our QB coach and noted expert in his field, let's see it. Show us a JaMarcus Russell who can make his throws, put some touch on the ball, read the defenses, etc.
I'm tired of hearing about JR’s success against Tampa Bay in the season finale. Okay, great, he had a nice final game. I want to see more consistency during the regular season.
If Tom Cable is our OL coach and noted expert in his field, let's see the unit provide protection and open up running lanes. Some strides were made last season, but the personnel is still not up to par.
We'll need a more talented unit to compete with the ferocious defenses of the NFL. In that respect, I can see seeking Vollmer in a trade as legitimate reasoning.
The Pats are not dumb though, so let's see if the guys Al and Cable brought in can actually get the job done, or if they need to go back to the well and hit up the only ear willing to listen—the Pats, who no doubt will look for another sweetheart deal with additional draft picks (or should that be pickpocket) to go along with Burgess, should he be shipped out.
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