The draft has come and gone and for first the first time in a while Raider Nation has a good feeling after draft weekend. The Raiders will hold their first mini camp this weekend and there will be a lot of things to watch for.
So far the offseason has been very good for the Raiders and the mini camp will give the fans a sneak peak at what the Raiders will look like in 2010.
ESPN reporter John Clayton has reported that the Raiders are preparing to cut JaMarcus Russell. While there have been no comments from Oakland, this move makes a lot of sense.
Russell is owed over $9 million this year and will most likely have to restructure his contract to stay on the team. Last season he was straight forward about not wanting to restructure his contract, but that was before Jason Campbell was in the picture.
Reports are coming out that the team is awaiting word from owner Al Davis, who put his dignity on the line when defending Russell and slamming former coach Lane Kiffen.
Tom Cable said he expected JaMarcus Russell at mini camp in his post draft interview. Either way, things aren't looking good for the former number one pick.
Jason Campbell will have all eyes on him at mini camp. He is a physical specimen with good arm strength. He'll be learning a new playbook again, which isn't a bad thing. He has had to learn eight new offensive schemes in ten years and has still managed to play ok.
It will be interesting to see if Campbell will take an immediate leadership role with the young offense. He has a lot of weapons around him that are more developed than last year, and the offensive line should be in much better shape.
Every player that comes into Oakland always says how fast the players are and how talented they are. Let's see what Campbell has to say after day one.
Currently on the roster the Raiders have five quarterbacks. Russell, Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and Kyle Boller. Gradkowski is out with an injury, which could really affect his chances of making the team.
Kyle Boller was brought in to be a back up, and he has the arm strength to be a Raider. He also has experience working with new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
If Boller makes the final roster odds are he'll be the backup to Campbell, unless Russell somehow stays on the Roster.
It may not be fair to Gradkowski, but he won't get his fair shot at starting. While all eyes have been on Russell after the Campbell trade, its hard not to feel sorry for Bruce.
Charlie Frye looks to be the odd man out, and may find himself without a job.
Darrius Heyward-Bey struggled in his first year, but he did what any true professional and dedicated player should do after an off year. He stayed in California and worked, worked and worked. Tom Cable took a bit of time off his press conference to talk about how excited he is for everyone to see how well Heyward-Bey has progressed.
Heyward-Bey has a wonderful attitude and a great work ethic. When he was drafted everyone new he was going to be a project. It now sounds like this project is ready to make an impact.
Last year was a bit ridiculous because the media would count his drops during the offseason programs.
He'll make sure they count them again this year, because that number will be dramatically reduced.
Loius Murphy and Chaz Schilens are two of the reasons the Raiders will field their most talented group of receivers since the Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Jerry Porter days.
They are both young, explosive guys who love making the big catches late in games. Murphy caught the game winning pass against the Steelers last season, while Schilens caught the game winning pass against the Broncos. Both of those games were away games.
These guys were late round steals and it will be fun to watch them put on a show during camp.
Tyvon Branch is a young and emerging star in the NFL, as he recorded 124 tackles in just his second year. He is a hard hitting machine that should benefit from a much improved front seven.
If Branch improves and continues to progress after last year, a Pro Bowl season is very possible in 2010.
He will be a big part of the Raiders very talented secondary.
The Raiders secondary is one of their strongest features on defense, if not the strongest. Nnamdi Asomugha leads a very talented secondary that opposing teams will be forced to go after more because of an improved Raider offense.
Asomugha, Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell, Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, Jerome Boyd, Hiram Eugene and three rookie defensive backs will all compete for time on the field.
Asomugha is a great mentor for all of these young guys, and Huff is coming off his best year as a Raider. It will be fun to see the fast guys battle against a receiving group that doesn't lack any speed.
Which brings on an interesting question. Who is faster: the Raiders cornerbacks and safeties or the Raiders running backs and wide receivers?
The Raiders' first round pick, Rolando McClain, will step into an immediate leadership role. He will be replacing a fan favorite as well as a long time teammate and leader of the defense.
While this may not be an easy task for any rookie, it should come as a second nature to McClain. He was the leader of a National Championship team, and he is the type to lead by example on and off the field.
He is a physical specimen and will be fun to watch in camp.
This year's draft was the Raiders most impressive draft in a while. The usually harsh critics of the Oakland Raiders could do nothing but praise them for their work during draft weekend.
Lamar Houston, Edwin Veldheer, Bruce Campbell, Jacoby Ford, Walter McFadden, Travis Goethel, Jeremy Ware, and Steven Brown were all drafted by the Raiders after the first round.
Perhaps the one to be the most excited about is Campbell. He was probably the best athlete of his size to ever attend the combine. His numbers made everybody's jaw drop.
He was a first round talent in a lot of people's eyes, but he dropped to Oakland in the fourth round. He has a chip on his shoulder, and when an athlete of his ability has something to prove, watch out! Here is a quote from him about falling in the fourth.
"The past couple of days showed how my life has been," said Campbell, who grew up in New Haven, Conn., with a stint at prep school preceding Maryland. "When Oakland called me, it was just a relief, like, 'Okay, now I know I'm with an NFL team, and I'm going to have to start all over to prove why I should have been picked earlier, prove why I am a good football player, and that everything I've worked for, I could actually do it.'"
This man is ready to prove people wrong.
Something fishy is going on here in Oakland. The Raiders bring in a couple 3-4 guys in Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves one year after trading for another 3-4 guy in Richard Seymour.
Rookie Lamar Houston played defensive tackle in college, but Tom Cable said he would play defensive end for the Raiders.
The Raiders still have Matt Shaughnessy, who played very well last year as a rookie. They didn't address the defensive tackle position in the draft, that is if Houston will in fact be playing defensive end.
Will Seymour be playing on the inside? Will the Raiders switch to a 3-4? This will be one of the most interesting things to watch for. This Friday at mini camp should give us a sneak peak and what this dirty little secret is.
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