Sunday, April 26, 2009

Raiders Draft Day Autopsy

I am shocked—shocked!—that folks are shocked—shocked!—that I might be disappointed in our draft. 
Before the draft, I said that I didn’t think the Raiders should use their first pick on a receiver. I wanted a tackle. I felt that we should get aggressive about bolstering our lines with young talent. That was my take.
Therefore, it goes without saying that I didn’t think the Raiders should have picked Darrius Heyward-Bey with their first pick, let alone Crabtree or Maclin. 
Does that mean I’m convinced DHB will be a bust? No. It means that I think from the standpoints of value (seventh pick in the draft) and positional priority (wide receiver over, say, offensive line), we got the pick wrong. Naturally, this leads to disappointment.  
That’s my TAKE. Need I remind folks that this place is called Raider Take, not Raider Wait and See? 
Saying that I shouldn’t be disappointed because the draft is ultimately a crapshoot and because know one really knows how DHB will turn out…that’s not a take. That’s avoiding having a take. 
If you think that focusing on wide receiver in the first round was a great idea, and that prioritizing speed as the top attribute at the wide receiver position is brilliant, then have a take and say that you, too, would have chosen DHB with the seventh pick in the draft.
If that’s not your take, then what is it?
I hope I’m proven wrong, and that DHB is lights out. Until then, I’ll have a take. I’ve been wrong before. I’ve been right, too. That's because I have takes, and you know where I stand, and you can look them up after the fact. 
As for Mike Mitchell in the second round, well, I like the way he hits, but I think we reached in that instance, too. Again, it doesn’t mean he’s a bust. It means that I question the value we got out of that pick in the draft. We most likely could have grabbed him with our next pick. 
Did I miss something? Are we not the NFL equivalent of paupers? Are we in a position to squander value? 
As for the subsequent rounds, well, I'm still waiting for an offensive lineman. We did get another receiver and tight end, though, speaking of pressing needs (not). 
When asked if the Raiders has considered trading down and getting DHB later in the first round, Cable said: “No, that was never the plan. We knew what we wanted to do the whole time. This was the choice that we thought we had to have to move this team to the next step.”
Now, he could be saying that because he wants to keep the kid pumped up, but he said it nonetheless. That just doesn’t sound too wise to me. Wouldn’t you at least consider it? 
Anyhow, I could be wrong about all of this. I hope I am. But that’s my take as of today. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And The Raiders Select...

I've decided that I'm not too keen on taking a wide receiver with our first pick today. Crabtree is starting to sound like a diva-in-training. I like Maclin, but not this early in the draft. 

I think it's easy to overvalue the wide receiver position, and our track record in that arena isn't very good lately. Randy (Alligator Arms) Moss, Jerry (Can't Find A Job) Porter, Alvis (Old Man) Whitted, Javon (Vegas) Walker, Ashley Lelie...Think about those names for a second. Honestly, I don't trust us to make the right choice if we go after a wide receiver in the first round. 
If I'm hell bent on upgrading our receiving corps, I'd rather throw the Cardinals a pick or two for a proven commodity like Anquan Boldin. Sure, he's become a bit of a complainer in Arizona, but I think it's circumstantial rather than chronic. The dude is tough as nails and his effort is unquestioned. 
If not that, then look for a diamond in the rough in the later rounds. We found Higgins in the third round. He's not only a great return man, but he's become a solid long-ball and quick-strike threat as well. 
Which brings me to our first pick today. It's time to test the tackle waters again, on either the offensive or defensive side. I can't say who it should or will be, except that it should be the best available player at either of those positions once we're on the clock. 
Put down the scissors and back away from the receivers, safteties and cornerbacks. Let's tighten up and toughen up our lines and get back to establishing hard-nosed fronts that will allow our skill positions to truly shine. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Stick'Em Pick'Em Draft Challenge

Okay, so now we know: We open the season at home on Monday night against the Chargers. Last time that happened, I was there, and it was akin to washing my eyes out with Clorox and garlic salt. 
The  season opener on Monday night against the Broncos two years later was equally scandalous and embarassing. Can we finally bring it on an opening Monday night against an AFC West rival? Well, we'll know sooner rather than later.
As for the rest of the schedule, when did the Texans join the AFC West? We play them every year now. I'm sure someone will bark at me about how this makes perfect sense according to the NFL's Pythagorean scheduling theorem. Thanks, but I don't want to hear it. Oh, and the Browns are back, too. At least we had a year off from them. 
Meanwhile, when recently asked to compare John Marshall's defense to Rob Ryan's, Cable replied: "There will be a lot of similarity. Hopefully, we'll just be maybe a little more fundamentally sound, a little more structured."
Umm..."Similarity" isn't the word I'm looking for, Tom. We ranked 27th in total defense last year. Can we shoot for dissimilar? And what's with "little more" fundamentally sound? When we last saw your defense, it looked like toddler soccer, so a "little more structured" doesn't quite cut it. How about "a lot more structured?" Is that too much to ask? I didn't think so. 
Anyhow, the draft is upon us, and I don't have a clue how it will shake out, which at least puts me on par with the experts in the mainstream media. 
To be honest, I don't like college sports that much. March Madness is my annual nightmare, a place where sports talk goes to die for three weeks. In the fall, I'm too busy watching the Raiders during football season to care much about college football. 
Then, before I know it, here comes April and the NFL draft and I'm supposed to watch YouTube videos of guys from Boston College and Texas Tech and start figuring out the draft order and predicting how it will unfold right up to the point that Mr. Davis grabs the phone. 
Which brings me to my old pal Stick'Em, who sure knew how to Pick'Em. Back in 2006, he not only pegged Michael Huff as the seventh round pick going to the Raiders. He pegged the six picks leading up to the Raiders. I'm not kidding. He even had Mario Williams going to the Texans instead of Reggie Bush. His picks are immortalized in the comments section of this Take, three days before the 2006 draft. 
So here we are, with the seventh pick in the draft again...Alas, Stick'Em is on an extended moratorium, so someone else will have to pick up the draft prognosticating slack. 
Hence, the honorary Stick'Em Pick'Em draft challenge. Who will the Raiders pick, and how will it happen up to that point? Remember, whom you want the Raiders to pick may be immaterial to whom they will actually pick, as six preceding teams have some say in the matter. 
Who will nail the first seven picks in the 2009 Draft? Will it be you? Let your picks rip and we shall see...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ahoy, Mateys!

Well, two things shook me out of my two-month stupor today: the signing of Jeff Garcia and a slap upside the head from PantyRaider via email.
First off, I like the Jeff Garcia signing. Even as a backup, he’s better than several of our recent "starting" quarterbacks, including Aaron Brooks, Josh McCown and Andrew Walter. That’s called progress and depth, two things that have been in short supply in recent years.  
Ever since the hiring of Coach Cable, I hardly recognize the Raiders from a behavioral standpoint—and that’s a good thing. They seem to have finally resisted Einstein’s definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over while expecting different results. 
We didn’t re-sign Jerry Porter but we did sign Jeff Garcia? We’re not holding out for Michael Vick instead? We didn’t deliver gold bricks to the doorstep of Ray Lewis? We didn’t give Kwame Harris a raise? We overpaid for guys who at least have earned their rewards, such as Lechler and Nnamdi? What in tarnation is going on here? Surely we're going to offer Rickey Dudley a contract any day now, right?
Then there’s the Marquis Cooper tragedy. I was actually going to post something about that, but it was just too depressing. By all accounts, he was a good young man, which only amplified the sense of loss. Did you see that he was honored by the Arizona Diamondbacks today, who had his father throw out the first pitch? 
I’ve never liked the phrase, “At least he was doing what he loved when he died.” I don’t want something I love to be my cause of death. I’d rather have it be something I hate, like heart disease, natural catastrophe or the Broncos. 
Beyond that, I’m not going to pretend that I have a lot to offer right now. This recent break has been good for me, despite the fact that I’m now apparently flirting with blog mutiny, and understandably so. Quite frankly, I can’t blame anyone for jumping ship. Every ship needs a captain, and this captain has let the ship drift for far too long.