Oakland Raiders Week 7 Stock Report

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2015

Oakland Raiders Week 7 Stock Report

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Oakland Raiders Week 7 stock report entails some foreshadowing on the expanding roles of three rookies and disappointments with a pair of veterans.

    Throughout the Raiders’ bye week, reporters questioned the coaching staff about what self-scouting meant to them as individuals. The head coach and both coordinators mentioned the concept of reflection.

    The coaching staff as a whole took an inventory on their play-calling decisions. In the midst of weighing past options, personnel decisions factor into pushing this team further along in development.

    Wholesale changes won’t shake up the roster, but look for minor tweaks in less prominent roles to improve the outcome of close games. The coordinators weren’t shy about their contemplation for increasing rookie snaps and adjusting play calls accordingly. 

    Who’s going to see the field a lot more post-bye week? Which struggling players may be losing a grip on their starting positions?

Neiron Ball: Stock Up

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    Raiders LB Neiron Ball making a tackle
    Raiders LB Neiron Ball making a tackleEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Rookie outside linebacker Neiron Ball will likely see an uptick in snaps. In Week 5, he leapfrogged Ray-Ray Armstrong and Curtis Lofton for a starting linebacker position alongside Malcolm Smith.

    Spectators directed heavy criticism toward Armstrong for his erratic play, and Lofton became the focus of tight end frustration issues. Ball comes off as a last resort at the linebacker position, but he may flourish as the best option. 

    It’s premature to accredit Ball as the long-term solution to defending the tight end after one game, but his play should put him in position to make a second start in Week 7.

    The rookie linebacker said he knew about his starting role by Tuesday leading up to the Week 5 matchup against the Denver Broncos. Let’s hope defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. makes the same call this week with San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates next on the schedule.

Curtis Lofton: Stock Down

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    Raiders LB Curtis Lofton
    Raiders LB Curtis LoftonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    In connection with Ball’s potential surge in playing time, Lofton takes somewhat of a backseat. He’ll maintain a significant number of snaps, but as MMQB's Andy Benoit points out in the previous outing, the veteran probably subs out in nickel packages.

    The Raiders' 4-2-5 alignment in nickel formation places the two linebackers in the middle of the field on an island. Lofton has become a liability in one-on-one coverage over the past few seasons, dating back to his days with the New Orleans Saints.

    At 29, as he ages, the fault in his game limits his role to two downs. He’s fairly decent at tackling ball-carriers downhill, but his quickness in dropback situations presents a problem for the Raiders.

    Lofton will take the field on first downs and short-yardage situations, but he'll watch Ball take over in between downs to play the pass.

Clive Walford: Stock Up

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    Raiders TE Clive Walford in Week 1
    Raiders TE Clive Walford in Week 1Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite only catching one pass for 33 yards in Week 5, it’s evident that tight end Clive Walford needs more targets to expand the passing attack. Quarterback Derek Carr needs a third weapon when the opposition clamps down on the starting wide receivers. Walford can fill that void.

    Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave conservatively inserted the rookie tight end into the lineup in the first five weeks, but he seems ready to increase his workload sooner than later.

    Musgrave made reference to his excitement in utilizing Walford after the bye week.

    “We’re looking for his role to increase, along with everybody else’s. [In Week 5], we did get Clive involved albeit in a limited capacity. [We] can’t wait for [his] level to increase in the future," said Musgrave.

    It’s not a foregone conclusion that Walford sees five to seven targets against the Chargers in Week 7, but Musgrave acknowledges the need to involve a complete tight end in the lineup. 

    Walford may not start the game. However, he should accrue more snaps than tight end Mychal Rivera, who’s struggled in blocking designs and failed to show up as a consistent target in the passing attack.

J’Marcus Webb: Stock Down

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    Raiders RT J'Marcus Webb
    Raiders RT J'Marcus WebbHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Remember when the right guard position posed as a huge question mark heading into the offseason? Those question marks have been replaced with failing grades outlined in red marker.

    Offensive line coach Mike Tice hasn’t transformed J’Marcus Webb, who played five seasons as a tackle, into a near-average guard since arriving in Oakland. Webb has struggled as pass-blocker and run-blocker.

    Webb earned a minus-4.5 grade in pass blocking and a minus-5.2 mark in run blocking, per Pro Football Focus.

    He allowed three sacks and 10 quarterback hurries in five games. His poor pass protection provides an attack point for the opposing pass rush. An inability to open running lanes on the right side has restricted the rushing attack to short gains. According to Team Rankings, Oakland ranks 19th in yards-per-rush average at four yards per carry. 

    The coaching staff hasn’t indicated a reduction in Webb’s role, but his continued struggles should inspire thoughts of plugging in Khalif Barnes as a utility linemen who can play the guard position.

    Del Rio mentioned rookie guard Jon Feliciano as a player still in the developmental stages confined to the practice field but not quite ready to take the field.

    "He's getting better. He's doing a pretty good job of developing kind of behind the scenes right now," said Del Rio.

Mario Edwards Jr.: Stock Up

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    Raiders DE Mario Edwards
    Raiders DE Mario EdwardsOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported, defensive end Justin Tuck’s season ends after five games. The Raiders have already placed the veteran defensive end on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. 

    At 32, Tuck’s production remains hard to replace, but Norton’s transition to a 3-4 base defense lessens the hit at defensive end. The Raiders have depth at the position with Mario Edwards Jr., Denico Autry, Stacy McGee, Benson Mayowa and C.J. Wilson all capable of filling in as a 3-4 end. 

    In Week 4, Autry suffered a concussion, and it’s worth monitoring his situation. Mayowa returned to action in the Raiders’ previous outing after missing four consecutive games. McGee and Wilson have provided depth and likely maintain that status behind the Raiders’ second-round pick. 

    Edwards primarily filled in for Tuck against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. He’s due for the biggest potential upgrade among the rookies mentioned in this stock report.

    Follow Maurice Moton on Twitter for news, updates and intriguing discussion about the Oakland Raiders.

    All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus and Team Rankings unless otherwise noted.

    Week 5 statistics and play-by-play analysis is provided by NFL.com.


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