With all the hype surrounding our improvements on defense, specifically our front seven, and the healthy optimism that Raider Nation has for our passing game with recent upgrade Jason Campbell and news of Heyward-Bey's improvements, there hasn't been much if any mention of who will man the Full Back position this year. I do realize that OTA's are no pads and supposed to be minimal contact, therefore the Full Back position commentary is likely to be minimal, however it is worth touching on before Training Camp starts.
We have added depth to our offensive line but it is still suspect. And with the "talk" of Hugh Jackson wanting to incorporate a power blocking, smash mouth run game in lieu of the zone blocking scheme we presently have, having a good run blocking full back will be necessary for us this year. After releasing Oren Oneal (who was actually my favorite) due to durability concerns, at present we have journeyman Luke Lawton, two U.D.F.A.'s (undrafted free agents) and just for kicks, multi-purpose Marcel Reece.
Let's take a look at what they bring to the table.....
Let's begin with Luke Lawton. Currently the only veteran FB on the roster, Lawton's resume is not too impressive. Having been on the rosters of the Bills, Giants, Falcons, Jets, Colts, Eagles and now the Raiders, in 6 seasons, he is definitely expendable. Not much of a pass blocker but an o.k. run blocker. Although he is nowhere near being an offensive threat, he does have short yardage pass catching ability but his stats indicate that he is not a threat to run the ball. Not would you call versatile by any means.
Listed at 6'0" & 240 lbs, he isn't what you would call a prototypical full back (to light) and with his history and the fact that he's currently suspended for the first 2 games of the 2010 season for using a banned substance, the only way I see him making the team is if we have absolutely no other options.
Manase Tonga came to the Raiders as an undrafted free agent from BYU. I don't really know to much about this kid but reports say that he is pretty one dimensional and definitely not NFL starter material. He has a decent build for a Full Back at 5'11" and 245 lb's, not easy to take down and can push a pile but he is best suited for short yardage / goal line situations. He works better between the Tackles than he does outside due to his lack of speed to provide sufficient blocking.
I like him better than Luke Lawton, but I doubt he has any real chance to make the team unless he impresses in camp this summer.
Out of all the options we have (which aren't that great), I like Chane Moline the most. After some research, I found that in high school, this kid rushed for 1, 200 yards as a Sophomore and 1,800 yards as a Junior. I don't know what the talent level of his competition was but any kid rushing for that many yards has to be worth looking at.
His rushing totals took a noticeable dive as he was used more as a blocker and pass catching FB in UCLA. However, he still managed to score 5 rushing touchdowns as both a Freshman and a Senior. Listed as a 6'0", 250 U.D.F.A., this kid has a lot of potential. He has good size, hard to bring down, versatile and is very confident in his abilities. (see his quote)
"I can break tackles and I have good vision. I also have a lot of patience when running the ball. I'm working on my speed and stamina right now."
He's kind of built like Mike Karney of the N.O. Saints and he likens himself to Mike Alstot (former FB for the Buccaneers). Due to football becoming more of passing game, traditional I-Back formation, Full Backs are few and far between. Full Backs these days have to be able to block, run the ball and catch the ball. I believe this kid has the ability and desire to become a great full back. Probably won't be a starter this year, but I do see him making the team.
Marcel Reese played almost every Skilled Offensive Position other than QB last year. As a Full Back option, he's a bit too tall for my taste (6'3" and 240 lb's) but he is versatile just like Chane Moline. I don't know how good of a run blocker or pass blocker he is though. I'm sure he has the speed to block outside the tackles, but up the gut could be an issue.
I guess all these questions will have to be officially answered during Training Camp.
What do you guys think Raider Nation? IF we don't pick up a free agent to trade for someone, who on our roster would you like to see at FB and Why?
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