The Oakand Raiders have had an awesome off-season this year. They should be much improved this coming season.
However, there is a difference between a much improved team and a serious playoff contender. The Raiders really aren't that far off from being just that.
Only two more moves will put the Raiders over the top in that department.
The two moves should be made for two offensive lineman. The Raiders look to be as good as they need to be at every other position.
Both Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell were drafted as "projects" for the offensive line. I love Campbell's measurables and I think he can be coached up in a year.
Many love Veldheer in the same way. I suggested Flozell Adams as a one year plug-in until Campbell is ready but I have since come off that stance.
Why wait to contend?
The Raiders need guys that are ready now while their weapons are still healthy . They don't know what Adams has left or how fast the young guys will develop anyway. I have especially warmed to the idea of Campbell as a guard.
I have heard many in Raider Nation say, "I trust Tom Cable" in their support of Veldheer. I am not saying I don't trust him but he sure was wrong about Samson Satele.
The Raiders were really set back by that move. Cable wanted Satele because he thought he was the best offensive lineman in the draft in 2007.
He then convinced Al Davis to let Jake Grove walk for nothing and trade for Samson Satele to fill the spot. While Grove is killing it in Miami, Satele is... Satele.
I wonder if Cable had the chance to see Satele live in his own Miami backfield in 2008. The border line of an acceptable point of an attack run-block win percentage is 80 percent.
Satele's win percentage was 79 percent. He also led the NFL in point of attack losses and backfield penetrations. He was also the third worst center in the NFL with 4.5 sacks given up.
I am a Cable fan but I wonder what Cable saw in Satele. Since Satele's arrival, the Raiders went from a top 10 rushing team to the number 21 rushing team in the league.
In 2010, Raider fans found out that nothing has changed with Satele. He was supposed to be a smaller zone-blocking fit but he couldn't make the right calls there.
Satele struggling with larger nose tackles especially won't help going forward. The Raiders have some power-blocking on the way for the 2010 season. Remember, you can't run if you can't block the nose tackle.
In a prior article, I desperately suggested that Alex Parsons be given an opportunity to challenge for the starting center position. I still like Parsons but the Raiders hardly have time to find out what he does or doesn't have.
My new idea is Logan Mankins. Mankins was a left tackle in college and can play any position on the offensive line. He's playing center in the picture to this article!
What will it cost?
It can't be too much because Mankins doesn't plan to go to camp as of now.
Mankins clearly outplayed his contract and approached Patriot owner Robert Kraft about it last year. Kraft then told Mankins to play out the 2009 season and they will take care of him.
Mankins then went about his business by having another Pro-Bowl year. The result was a three and a half million dollar tender.
Does that sound like what they told him?
Mankins said, "I felt like I played out an undervalued contract. Promises were made. Right now, this is about principle with me, and keeping your word and how you treat people."
It's actually gotten worse since then. After not signing the original tender, the Patriots lowered the tender to about a million and a half dollars.
So why would the Raiders play a Pro Bowl guard at center?
So they can have the All-World center they need. Plus they could have two fast guards (Rober Gallery and Bruce Campbell) to get Darren McFadden to the outside.
Mankins is a hit for both zone and power-blocking.
Mankins helps in zone-blocking because the guard wouldn't have to stay in his combo block too long. He can go on to the next level leaving Mankins with the nose tackle.
He would also help in power-blocking because they won't have double team his man all the time. This is important because the rest of the AFC West runs a 3-4
Mankins polishes his man off in the run game. He wins his block 91 percent of the time when he is the point of attack in the running game. Only one in every 10 offensive lineman in the NFL are at 90 percent and above.
He has also kept quarterback Tom Brady clean over the years. Last year, Mankins only gave up one sack.
Did I mention that he has yet to miss a game as a pro?
The Raiders can depend on Mankins Sunday in and Sunday out.
Back to what it will take to get him. I say a third at the most or a couple of players with a late pick. The price won't be high if he doesn't show up.
How about a fourth round pick?
That's what we gave them Moss for.
The Patriots owe us one!