Are the Oakland Raiders Turning the Corner?
Is this really happening? There is something different in the air this year. The Raiders have been patient, calculating, and more importantly, they have been making the moves necessary to become a winning team.
The news media has destroyed the Raiders about their draft picks of the last few years because the high round picks have not produced as the team envisioned.
We do not know what the draft picks this year are going to do, but just the picks themselves tells us that the team is going in a different direction.
Listening to Coach Cable’s press conference the last two days really shows that the team has a plan and they are sticking to it. This is becoming interesting and fun for all of us.
In the first round the Raiders picked ILB Rolando McClain. Linebacker was not the most pressing position for the team. Coach Cable said that the top four prospects on the team’s board were gone (Suh, McCoy, Williams, and Okung). They took the guy next on their board. This guy is going to be a starter from day one and I think he will be that “thumper” in the middle the team has been looking for.
This is where it gets interesting. In the second round the Raiders picked DT Lamarr Houston. When they made this pick, I have to admit I was not that excited about it. I really like Houston, but he seems more like an under tackle than a nose tackle. The team has quite a few under tackles but not a true nose tackle so I was a little puzzled with the pick.
In Coach Cable’s press conference he said that they would be moving Houston to left defensive end. WOW! Talk about a shock. No one saw that one coming. One of the reporters asked “When you say Houston is an end in your scheme, you are talking about a 4-3 end, wouldn’t that still make you a little light at tackle right now?”
Coach Cable responded, “Naw, you’ll see the plan when we get there. It’s good. You’ll like it. You will like it Jerry. You hear me. We have some things that we are putting together to get it all sorted out, you will see it in minicamp.”
Hearing that really gets one excited about the possibilities. Do they have a trade already worked out? Do they have a certain player targeted in the next round? Whatever it is, you know they have a plan in place to become more physical up front to stop the run.
The biggest surprise so far is their choice at offensive tackle. They picked Jared Veldheer (6’8”, 315). Taking a tackle is not a surprise. Taking an athletic tackle is not a surprise. With Bruce Campbell still on the board, taking Veldheer over him was a surprise. There is something amiss concerning Campbell as every team has passed on him so far.
This is becoming more and more interesting by the minute. The entire Raider Nation knew we had to hit a home run with this draft and so far the ball has been tagged and is heading out of the park. Upon completion of the draft and trades (if any), we will all know if it is a home run. For the first time in a long time, the Raiders look as if they are doing just what they need to do to fix the team and get back to their winning ways of old.
One more day, six more picks. There is this surprising feeling that tomorrow could be something special. Stay tuned for final analysis after the draft. From what has happened so far, the future is looking bright.
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