Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cold Thoughts on A Hot Draft

My older brother said it best several years ago: “Stick me in a freezer and thaw me out on game day.” Now we say it every year, right around the second Raiders preseason game—on some hot August day when we can’t take the anticipation any longer, when September can’t come fast enough, when we’d rather join the TV dinners and frozen fish than live with the clock ticking so slowly toward the start of the regular season. Ever had that feeling?

Well, the draft is now starting to feel that way, too. It may not be at freezer level, but certainly refrigerator, or even ice chest. I can’t recall a draft with this much hype and discussion and anticipation. I can't wait, and it's killing me, so just put me on ice.


Maybe it’s the caliber and star quality of the players (by comparison, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith were hot topics last year). Maybe it’s the growth of NFL-dedicated news sources such as NFL Network and Sirius Satellite Radio. Maybe it’s the explosion of blogs and other internet sports resources, which amplify the 24-hour white noise of speculation and discussion. I don’t know. All I know is that this draft business is exceeding triple digits on the anticipation thermometer this year. The draft is everywhere, nonstop at high volume, consuming everything, the NBA, MLB and world politics.

Is Michael Huff the answer to our prayers or the latest in a dubious trend of first-round DBs? Do we need to draft a QB, or is the QB of the future already on our team? What about those front lines? Who's going to help LaMont Jordan carry the load this year? Is Jerry Porter trade bait? Should he be? These are all unanswered questions that will, or might, shape what goes down this weekend.

I don’t profess to be an expert or a psychic. I won’t presume to tell you who I think the Raiders should or will pick in the fourth round…

However, here are some parting thoughts before I make my bed of ice cubes: If we go the QB route, I would prefer Leinart over Young, but I also like Young’s upside if it comes to that. My heart tells me that it’s high time that the Oakland Raiders groom their own QB of the future. Is that QB already on the roster in the form of Andrew Walter? The answer to that question lies in the team’s internal opinion of Walter, which just begs another question without an answer. My head tells me that the Raiders should play it safe and fill a glaring need in the first round, such as safety, linebacker, defensive line or offensive line. The Raider Nation, and specifically many of the brilliant characters who are kind enough to comment on Raider Take, have convinced me that Mike Huff would be a solid first-round selection, despite my first-round DB phobia. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders make a blockbuster deal to move up and nab their favorite pick (whoever that might be). I wouldn’t be crushed if Jerry Porter became trade bait—we’ve got a lot of depth at receiver, and I think the image of Jerry Porter exceeds the reality, and thus we might be able to get more than fair value for him. I think we need Justin Fargas to step up fast, and if the Raiders have lost confidence in him, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see them select a sleeper running back or fullback in a later round, as depth is becoming an issue on that front (although I concede that it’s possible Zack Crockett was a casualty of Norv Turner’s inanity last year, and that he might have more to offer than we’ve seen lately).

Thank you for listening. I’m now going to turn on the air conditioner, pour a cold one and have a seat next to the ice cream.

20 Comments:

Blogger Peter Fleming said...

Do yourself a favor and pour a warm one. It'll be liquid a few more minutes in that freezer with you!

After being quite excited by the Gallery choice a couple of years ago, I'm, a little blase about this years' draft (I will still be watching it, of course!). All I know is, I don't want Young. I hate that freelance, schoolyard QB stuff Michael/Mike Vick is adored for. Looking back, NO team has succeeded (won a Super Bowl) with a scrambling QB at the helm. 49ers and Steve Young you say? Look at his stats from that excellent season. His rushes and yards were significantly lower. He stayed home, read defenses and executed his offensive gameplan.

My Take is that these freakishly gifted QBs like Vick are able to get so far on that God-given ability that they lack, or should I say get off to a late start, in the other aspects of the game which is needed to be a consistant success in the NFL. It's human nature, if you're that much more talented on everyone else on the field, why bother studying nuance? Throw it over or through someone, or just run past them. It takes several years, look at Steve Young, to recognize the game has many facets and understand you need to reign in your abilities and execute the gameplan.

Give me the pocket QB. Brady. Big Ben. Montana (ugh). Simms. Aikman.

Cunningham. Tarkenton. McNabb. Vick. No thanks.

But, as my man Denis Miller would say, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I want to take these one by one, so excuse me for the long reply. Keep in mind, the key word to these answers is "Potential" because we won't know for sure until we put the cat in the firepan.
"Is Michael Huff the answer to our prayers or the latest in a dubious trend of first-round DBs?" From what has been viewed by his play and potential, yes. He is showing that he is a "heady" guy, who makes adjustments, and gives his best game in and out. His potential could be the next Ronnie Lott in his hayday with the 40-whiners.
" Do we need to draft a QB, or is the QB of the future already on our team?" How can we really know the answer to this question, if we keep the young, inexperienced QB's on their asses, not giving them a fair chance to play? I mean come on! You can't expect a QB who hasn't played considerable time in Regular season games to go out and be Joe Montana. The way they become veteran QB's, and quality QB's is by letting them play and work through their game time mistakes. Again, Vince Young is not going to be the Raiders' savior at the helm. The problem I saw with him at UT, was his inability to make game time adjustments. When he feels pressured, he tends to "put the team on his shoulders and try to carry them himself," but neglects the talent around him. That's the problem with Mike Vick. But how can we know for sure if Tui or Walters is not our guy, unless we let them work through their mistakes, and PLAY?
If we really need to groom our young QB's, then let's groom the one's we have, and not waste a pick. Because there will be other QB's in future drafts that have the talent of Leinart and Young, because USC and UT will always be there, and as long as Pete Carroll and Charlie Weiss are coaching college teams, there will always be a QB that is NFL Ready!
But if we are talking draft, let's consider a few rumors too. #1) Rumor of Porter and #7 spot to Green Bay, for Brett Favre. Good move, it will definitely help us win this year.
#2) Trading spots with the Jets in the first round, and maybe some compensation or a player. That will put us at the 4 hole, leaving Hawk available to us. Greater move. I think our defense needs more help than our offense at this point. The Saints and Texans are asking too much for their spots. I think the Saints draft Young, so he'll be off the board anyway.
#3) We stay where we are, and draft Huff. Again, an immediate impact player on our defense. The only offensive player I see the Raiders drafting here is Vernon Davis, which is a possibility.
Here's what I think for the first 3 rounds though:
1st round-trade with Jets, pick up Hawk, or stay at #7, and get Huff.
2nd Round-Rodrique Wright (DT) or LenDale White (RB, and if available).
3rd Round-David Thomas (TE) or DB if we don't get Huff.
The rest of the rounds we get O-lineman.
Just my thoughts, and opinion. Crankin' up the Freezer to sit in, because it's damn hot in Austin.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

As much as I'd love to see the Raiders draft a raw talent player like Vince Young and hope to groom him, I'm very skeptical of this organization's ability to develop players. We've tried this before in the past with very physically gifted players who needed teaching and haven't exactly been too succesful with it. I have a nagging fear that if we draft Young, it'll blow up in our faces...especially with a raw QB coach.

From the #7 slot, taking someone who's close to NFL-ready and not a potential project player might be the best option.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

The following take is from HORSECOLLARJACK, who is still encountering technical difficulties in posting comments to Raider Take:

A crap-shoot. A complete up-in-the-air, I-wonder-who'll-win-this-year, give-it-your-best-shot scenario. Am I talking about the Draft, or the NFL in general? Take your pick.

But I'll tell you one thing: I'm glad I've got the Maverick in the Jump-Suit in our corner. There'll be no hemming and hawing on the good ship Raider this weekend. As Tuesday Morning Quarterback said yesterday: "To prevent a strike that might have torn pro football apart, Raiders boss Al Davis cooperated with the league, putting his own concerns aside to help save the NFL. At that moment Lucifer looked around and said, 'Hey, did somebody touch the thermostat? It's getting cold in here."

You just never know what's gonna happen next: And that's why I love it!

1:45 PM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

I think the key to the Raiders draft on Saturday, is that they must admit to themselves that they probably cannot solve all of their problems in one draft. I know Al Davis prefers reloading, over rebuilding, but it looks like he is seeing the big picture here. That is why I think he remained so quiet through the free agency period. There are just no quick fixes for this team anymore. That is why Art Shell was hired. Art is here for the long haul. He will be given time, I hope, to reshape, yes, even, rebuild this roster. It will take some time, but it will be worth the wait. I still believe the best, & fastest way back, is to draft a Qb, and build around him. We, as the Raider Nation, all want the same thing. We want to beat the donkey's 20 times in a row. We want to make the playoff's most every year. We want to win the Super Bowl. As long as the Raiders realize that Saturday is but the first step in this journey, I think it will happen in time.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous LK said...

Back from my whirlwind tour of the East Bay where I left sizable donations at Raider Image and other landmarks of Raider Nation. Was able to follow all the excellent draft takes [but not post myself] while a guest in Cali.
My take is if Leinart is there at seven, you have to take him regardless of who is on the roster [I doubt the Raiders know if Walter can play any more than fans do]. If he's gone then I'm squarely in the Hawk/Huff camp, in that order. I would trade #7 and JP for Mario Williams only, otherwise, why weaken one of only two team strengths, the other being DB]? In Rd two I like Joseph Addai, assuming he's there at #38, and would jump up a few spots to get him--has hands, speed and can block. Rd 3 and beyond I say go best player available, regardless of position.

7:13 AM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

I like what RaiderOO said about the future and this is also how I am thinking. "Student Body Left" was way the team played back when with the Snake and I believe Al and Art and company would love to be able to bring that back. Todd was a failed attempt to do just that but maybe Matt is the answer. If not, I love the the up-side of Young and he could contribute in other ways until he is ready to take over, this way you get him on the field in the SLASH position while he prepairs for his future. The Raiders have been slow in free agency but I think they are making good moves where we need imeadiate help. We do not need Bret, not at the cost of a #1 and a WR. He is at the end of his great career and we need a QB for the future. Now we have a low pick, if Art does a good job we will be picking later next year and not have a shot at a quality QB. If we can move up to get the QB for #7 and a WR "OK', but we need the rest of our picks to help build our team and we do not need to trade away any future picks. If the price is too high stay at #7 and get the best player for our team, he should be a good one. If we want to gamble on a player do it later with Marcus Vick who could be a great bargain and again we could use him in the SLASH position while he prepares for the future like Ronald Curry. 6ft and 4.40 speed and talented but has his head up his ass like "Sea Bass", could work for us.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Not that mock drafts mean anything, but ESPN.com is currently doing an interactive one between John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli and they have Matt Leinart falling to the Raiders in the seven spot.

Good news...assuming Clayton and Pasquarelli are going to be drafting for the Texans, Saints, Titans, Jets, packers and 49ers on Saturday.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Raider Take said it best in his comparison of Draft Day to Christmas. I'm sure you've seen all the reports, and shows this week; and analysts picking up the preverbial Draft present, shaking it, and arguing if it's Matt Leinart or Vince Young (and they call themselves experts). They forget that Al Davis doesn't draft by reputation of the player, but these "experts" keep insisting that if one of the two are there, "They have to take them." Why does he have to take them? They make this statement based on College reputation. If every QB lived up to their College rep-hype, the Gino Toretta was the greatest QB ever to live, and Heath Shuler was the 2nd best!
Don't think for a minute that Al is sitting at his TV, watching these knuckleheads, thinking to himself, "OH MY GOD! I'VE GOT TO TAKE A QB BECAUSE JOHN CLAYTON, AND MEL KIPER JR SAYS SO!" Two of the biggest losers to call themselves "experts" and have never played, owned, or managed a team at ANY LEVEL! Foxsports isn't that far behind either.
I'm sick of all the speculation, and lack of insight. If you want to come close to thinking like Al Davis, you have to see it through his eyes. He is a lot like George Steinbrenner, without the bank-roll. He wants to win now! His needs to do that immediately are: LB, DB, OG, DT, TE, RB; in that order. But he will make his decision for these positions based on the future as well, not just the now.
My Raider Mock Draft for the first 3 rounds, based on how Mr. Davis has operated in the past; looks like this:
Round 1-AJ Hawk (LB-OSU) or Michael Huff (DB-UT). Rumor has it we are moving to the #4 spot to grab Hawk.
Round 2-Rodrique Wright (DT from UT) or LenDale White (RB-USC if available)
Round 3-David Thomas (TE-UT) or Fred Matua (OL-USC)
Based on needs, not reputation. That is how Al Davis has always worked. It hurt him in the past with picks like, Wilson, Hilger, Marinovich, and I don't think Sebashank Janikowski is all that great either.
But tonight, I will be wearing my Howie Long jersey to bed, with visions of Marcus Allen, Todd Christianson, Howie Long, Art Shell, Fred Blitnekoff, Tim Brown, Steve Wisenewski, Jack Tatum, Otis Sistrunk, and Gene Upshaw in my head; waiting to see what Al unwraps for us tomorrow.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Great post Raider Nate! A potential tri-fecta of Longhorns for the 1st 3 rounds (Huff, Wright, and Thomas) is plausible but unlikely.

1 more day of non-stop speculation, rumors and "expert" opinions until we get to open the real gifts under the tree. I hope Santa Al gives us shiny (and durable) new toys.

6:53 AM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...

I love Al and company but I will admit he probibly lives in the same sadow as the rest of us who can't forget the glory days with John Maddan and "student body left" being led by the "Snake". So are we "snake" bit and keep hoping for the "Second Comming" of the "lefty". If Matt falls to us he will become a "RAIDER", this I know and believe and it has nothing to do with what some TV hype personality says. That TV guy is just talking about what "Big Al" has done in the past when it looks like another comming. Todd was a mistake but do we judge Matt according to Todd? Al knows his left hand team made it difficult for the "D" as the strong side becomes weak and the weak side becomes strong and the spin on the ball is in reverse but the "O" is familiar with it all. If Gallery is moving to the left side so is the running game and the "Lefty from SO-Cally.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous scorpio2562 said...

i just hope santa al doesn't blow it like he's BLOWN so many in the recent past!!!!! oh sorry - i said i wouldn't rip him didn't i?

hopefully this draft won't set us back a few years. we desperately need players who will help us WIN and win NOW.

well folks, this is it! cross your fingers, rub your rabbit's foot, pick up that 4 leaf clover or lucky horseshoe. good luck everyone 'cause we're gonna need it!

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if my math is right, but I think we've drafted a DB in the first round 5 out of the last 8 years. Looking back at Stinchcomb and Janikowski I wish it had been DB's 7 out of the last 8 years....but what can you do? Anyway, for as much as I like Huff, this trend of drafting DBs every year with our first pick without much success on the field scares me. On the other end, safeties who have been highly touted top 10 picks have really done well as of late: Roy Williams, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor (not off the field).

So Huff is fine with me assuming Hawk is out of the question.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

There are only 3 QB's that "Big Al" has drafted in the first round thourghout the history of the Raiders; out of those 3, Marinovich was the only lefty. Stabler was the "example" lefty. Who are the other lefty QB's we've had in our history, other than these 2? If Stabler era was so great, then how come we didn't win more championships? We only won 1 Super Bowl, and 2 with a righty QB, Jim Plunkett (MVP of the '80 Super Bowl, Stabler 0).
I think the thing about Stabler, is he fit the system the Raiders were running, and was able to "get the job done," much like Dilfer did with the Ravens. Not to say that Stabler wasn't good, but we've had better QB's in our history, Gannon being the most recent.
Speculation (and that is what it is) that Al Davis has wood for the "Stabler Days" is absord. He has always been an owner who is "Committed to Excellence" and wants to "Just Win Baby!" in the now. The only thing that Al Davis wants to instill in the Raiders with their past, is the swagger, history, creating a "Raider Nation Family" making it being a priviledge to be a Raider. If you are loyal to Al, he will always be loyal to you. You will always be a part of the Raider Family.
But make no mistake, this has nothing to do with how he drafts players for the now! He is looking to win, and he knows what it takes to win.
So this argument for "the second coming of the Snake" to me is bogus. It is something Al will always love, because the Snake is one of those guys who is loyal to Al, and played beyond his potential for Al. The same with Blitnekoff, the same with Art Shell, the same with Howie Long, the same with Rich Gannon, Tim Brown, Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Ray Guy and the rest of the Raider Family. The difference today? The current Raider roster doesn't know the Raider way, nor do they care. But Moss is starting to understand, and so are a few players like Lechler, Morrison, Schweigert, and Doug Gabriel. Al wants the history of this great franchise to impact the current roster, in ways of playing your best, giving your all, being intimidating-not intimidated (the way we've played the past few years). But he is not looking to re-live this history with the current roster, he is using the history as motivation for the current roster to write their own chapter with this franchise!
With that said, do not confuse re-living the glory days with returning to the glory days.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

We've all had enough of the mock drafts, but here's how the Top Ten picks would go if folks knew what they were doing,(as if I do -LOL!):

1. Houston Texans — DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State. The philosophy is never pass up a big-time pass rusher for a running back, and I'm sticking to it.

2. New Orleans Saints — RB Reggie Bush, USC. D'Brickashaw may be the actual pick, but anyone notice how narrow he looks to be the supposed next Orlando Pace?

3. Tennessee Titans — QB Vince Young, Texas. A lot of debate about Leinart vs. Young, but Young is too similar to the existing offense with McNair and has too much talent to pass up.

4. New York Jets — OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia. The NY fans will boo, just like always.

5. Green Bay Packers — OLB A.J. Hawk, Ohio State. Hawk has Green Bay written all over him, like Ray Nitschke did.

6. San Francisco 49ers — TE Vernon Davis, Maryland. Can't give up on Alex Smith without some targets.

7. Oakland Raiders — DB Michael Huff, Texas. Instantly makes all the young DBs play better.

8. Buffalo Bills — DT Haloti Ngata, Oregon. Bills need to stuff the run (#32 in the NFL) and Ngata does "stuff" better than Bunkley, though I bet Bunkley is better, baby!

9. Detroit Lions — DT Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State. Pairing him with Shaun Rogers is beyond scary, and may be the only thing that can save Matt Millen's job.

10. Arizona Cardinals — QB Matt Leinart, USC. Not the free fall that Rogers took last year, but Leinart isn't as big a deal as his Hollywood agents think he is.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Jeez, all you guys are on fire. Great reads!

Stick'Em, I have to disagree with your assessment of Leinart, we'll have to reconvene over a beer in two years, after he's had a chance to play in the NFL.

And now, for one last chuckle, I present the following take found on Yahoo courtesy of something called Rivals.com, which is apparently channeling secret signals from outer space:

Oakland Raiders
Key needs:

1. Quarterback
2. Linebacker
3. Defensive tackle
4. Guard
5. Safety

1. Quarterback - The Raiders will look for their future quarterback with the seventh overall pick. They signed Aaron Brooks to replaced Kerry Collins but he is just a stop-gap starter. They like Jay Cutler the most, but they will have to move up to select him. They will probably select Vince Young if they stay at seven.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

I don't know why it is that whenever the name Mike huff is mentioned, many are ready to say he will be a great pro player, but when the names Leinart/Young/Cutler are spoken, many say, well, a lot of Qb's have flopped over the yrs. It seems to me that just as many DB's have flopped over the yrs as well. We should know because the Raiders have drafted most of them. Let me take everyone back to the 2001 draft. With pick #28, the Raiders took Derrick Gibson. Just four picks later, at #32, went Drew Brees. I point this out because it is important to remember that drafting defense is not always better then taking a Qb. I will be praying for Matt Leinart to become a Raider tomorrow. He is the most ready, his arm is strong enough, he will sell tickets, and he will lead the Raiders back to the playoffs quicker the any DB can.

5:34 PM  
Blogger StickUm25 said...

Looks like stick'em knows his stuff.

Texans have signed Williams - http://www.nfl.com/teams/story/HOU/9404220

6:24 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'Em the prophet! I think it will be much more likely for the Jets, Niners or Raiders to move up to take Bush at #2 than for the Aints to take him. I just can't see Owner Benson forking out the cash necessary to sign Bush.

Clearly the reason the Texans got cold feet with Bush was the sticker shock. Would the Aints be willing to take our #7, Porter, and our 2nd and 3rd round for the #2 pick (Bush)? Is Bush worth it? I say YES!

I think Bush is a once in a decade type performer who would add another dimension to our offense that has been missing for some time...the Home-Run threat at running back.

I think most of the teams have been caught off-guard by the Texans move to pass on Bush. The question is which teams wants him bad enough to put together a trade package to get him.

This is shaping up to be one of the most exciting drafts in many years.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

To paraphrase Mel Kiper, the Texans don't know what the draft is all about. The Texans may have been able to move a slot or two down to grab Mario Williams, all while getting some other draft picks in return to rebuild their offensive line...or they could have just gotten a quality OL as part of the package. Even if they didn't think that Mario would have lasted past New Orleans, I'm wondering if they couldn't have worked out some deal just to swap picks since the Saints did express interest in Bush, considering the health issues of McAllister. Or if the Saints refused to trade picks, I'd have taken Bush anyway, and then bartered with him.

6:03 AM  

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