Oakland Raiders: Immediate Needs in 2010

Tim PetersonCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 22:  Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable talks with Oakland Raiders quarterback Charlie Frye during the 4th quarter as the San Francisco 49ers host the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park August 22, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

According to the Oakland Tribune, Al Davis is ready to fire Raiders head coach Tom Cable. The not so shocking news is coming on the heels of another disappointing 5-11 season and an emabrassing season for JaMarcus Russell. The former No. 1 pick completed just 3 touchdowns and had 17 turnovers. Ouch!

But before the axe falls on Cable, insiders say Raiders boss Al Davis could take his own sweet time on the matter. Cable told reporters at his press conference that he will meet with Davis to discuss his future.

However, if Davis is truly a players’ owner then maybe he should listen to them. After Sunday’s loss, the Raiders locker room gave Cable their support for next season. Both Namdi Asomugha and Russell said Cable should be given a chance to finish what he started.

Tight end Zach Miller was even more supportive.  “I want to see him. I think he’s been good all year. He’s been. He’s had to deal with some tough issues early on. But he’s been the same every week, and really consistent, and I think that’s good for the football team. And I’d love some continuity going into next season.”

While Cable twists in the wind over his future with the organization, he told the Associated Press that he was confident in his return and likes where the team is headed. "I'm disappointed because we didn't win," Cable said. "I thought we were going to [win] and yet I feel excited about what's coming back. But there's got to be some things added and tweaked and fixed."

Immediate areas of concern start with both offensive and defensive lines.

Priority No. 1: The Raiders must find a way to stop the run.

Ravens back-up Willis McGahee (167, 3TD’s) was just one of many runners to tear-up the Raiders run defense. The run defense hasn’t been a solid unit for Oakland since its Super Bowl appearance in 2003.

The second objective is to keep the quarterback upright. That means fixing the offensive line. Whether it’s through free agency or the draft, this problem must be a bigger priority in the offseason.

While trading up for Nebraska’s monster run stuffer Ndamukong Suh might be a pipe-dream, selecting Crimson Tide linebacker Rolando McClain could be the next best thing for Oakland.

The Alabama All-American had 226 tackles, five interceptions and forced a fumble in his three-years at Bama. McClain is projected to be a top 10 selection and obviously comes with a solid foundation. He’s schooled in the fine arts of "seek and destroy" football by Nick Saban, and would allow Kirk Morrison to move to the outside.

Looking into the 2010 draft, which weird direction will Al Davis take the franchise this time?

Maryland’s offensive tackle Bruce Campbell is the most logical of the illogical choices at No. 1. The 6-foot-6, 306 pound workout warrior falls in line with Davis’ track record of taking athletes over football players. Campbell can bench press 490 pounds and he squats dump truck tires in his spare time. But can the open holes for Darren McFadden and protect the quarterback? 

If Davis looks to clean-up the defensive line, a pick that is gaining momentum, is Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end from South Florida.

The JUCO transfer only has one full season of Division I football under his belt, but at 6-6 and 260 pounds, Pierre-Paul has a rare combination of speed and power.

This makes him very appealing to Davis, even though the team already has Richard Seymour and Greg Ellis on the ends.

Scouts love Pierre-Paul’s explosiveness and burst, he could become a monster pass-rusher in the NFL, but he’s also been compared with Bills underachieving pass-rusher Aaron Maybin from a year ago. The Raiders could be reaching if they took this raw South Florida product with their top choice.

UCS’s Taylor Mays and Florida’s defensive end Carlos Dunlap are also players that match this same pedigree. The down side of drafting on athletic talent alone is that it doesn’t win very many football games in the NFL.

Household names like Tennessee safety Eric Berry (who is compared with Ed Reed) and Oklahoma defensive lineman Gerald McCoy aren’t in the conversation for the Raiders. They just don’t have that rare freakish ability that Davis covets so much.

If Davis is smart, he’ll look for players that can make an instant impact and fill needs, rather than rolling the dice on potential like he did with Russell, McFadden and Heyward-Bey.


Draft sleepers include Stanley Havili at fullback, TCU middle linebacker Daryl Washington and Mountain West reception leader David Reed from Utah. All come from winning programs and all are well coached players.

No question Davis has set the Raiders back by drafting players based on combine stats and 40-times. And sure it’s hard to teach “old dogs” new tricks, but what’s getting old around Oakland is the losing.