Thursday, April 25, 2013

And The Raiders Select...

After last year's buzzkill of a draft and disaster of a season, here we are heading into the first round of the 2013 NFL draft with a sense of renewal and energy. Reggie McKenzie brought in the wrecking crew over the past several months, and now the rebuilding begins. 

In terms of core "contributors," the 2012 Raiders didn't look that much different than the previous year, yet only managed half of the wins. The 2013 Raiders are suddenly going to look a lot different. Huff, Seymour, Lechler, DHB, Palmer, Kelly, McLain, Mitchell, Giordano...And I think we can just as easily win four games without them.

I predicted as much last November, remarking: The perpetual Christmas is over in Alameda. Don't buy a Raiders jersey right now, because you're going to see a lot of names on the discount rack next summer. There's no other path to take at this point.

So here we are. The days of Hail Mary free agent signings are over. The team will be built from the ground up. A successful draft will go a long way toward accelerating the process.

I think we'll kick things off with a defensive lineman. I believe that only three defensive starters are returning this year. We need to find a way to stuff the run and get the QB. A mayhem-maker in the middle (or even on the end) is an obvious core need. Shariff Floyd seems to be the popular prognostication right now.

I hate to say it, but cornerback is another target area. I'm sort of terrorized by the hailstorm of speedy DBs we've whiffed on in the past. But we need a good one pronto. 

I might look for a late-round flyer at running back, too, as a hedge against McFadden. Impact running backs can be found in later rounds. It would be awesome if we could find a diamond in the rough.

The lack of a second round pick really hurts. The idea of trading down for more picks is enticing, but who's going to make that deal? It doesn't seem like the kind of draft where teams are clamoring to get into the top five to get this or that player. 

In the end, we shall see...So grab your popcorn and give us your take! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The New Silver & Black

"Reggie's my guy. He did inherit a mess, and he's still cleaning. I can be patient with him..."

               -Mark Davis in Sports Illustrated

Everything we've been talking about lately here at Raider Take is now reported in great detail in the new issue of Sports Illustrated, in an extensive five-page spread titled The New Silver & Black: "SI followed Oakland's brain trust over the course of a year as it worked to transform the culture of an iconic franchise..."

Simply put, this is a must-read for all Raiders fans. 

From the story: "When McKenzie went to view the club's draft room last year, he discovered that none existed, so he had one built from scratch. When he requested the team's scouting questionnaires for evaluating college prospects, he learned there weren't any, so he created them."

In the piece, Mark Davis takes responsibility for the Carson Palmer deal. Dennis Allen is quoted as saying, "I want guys who love football, who are willing to put the team first...Who exemplify those characteristics." We learn that the Raiders were the only team that didn't subscribe to the psychological testing program available to each team before the draft.

This piece is ultimately a monument to hope, as achieved through radical change and, alas, necessary patience.

Please go read it, and then let's hash it out in the comments section.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Welcome Matt, Adios Carson

Did Carson Palmer every really feel like a long-term linchpin to you? He didn't to me. I won't miss him, because there's not much to miss. He always seemed a bit distant. I can't put my finger on it. I couldn't detect much passion. His numbers were good, but the results weren't. He was just sort of...there. Remember when Terrelle Pryor tore his own teammate violently away from that stupid scrum last year? Now that's passion. I can't imagine Palmer doing anything like that.

So along comes Matt Flynn. Now this is how you do it. You get a guy with potential upside for a couple of late-round picks, instead of giving up early-round picks for a guy on the downside. Matt Flynn can get us to 4-12 no problem, which makes Palmer eminently expendable. 

Flynn is now either our stopgap or our future, and we're going to find out at a fair price. Just because Russell Wilson seized the starting role in Seattle doesn't mean that Flynn is chopped liver. There's a reason Pete Carroll wanted him, too. 

This is obviously a rebuilding year for the Raiders. So Flynn and Pryor go head-to-head, and we get to see if there's any cream that can rise to the top. Meantime, we pursue other needs in the draft, then get a quarterback early in the draft next year if necessary. We avoid the pressure to reach on a Geno Smith or any of the other QBs in this year's weak class. 

I see a plan taking shape. We're starting at square one. It should have happened years ago, but it didn't. Past misdeeds will be paid with our patience. 

Last year was an inexcusable exercise in half measures. This year will be different. The culture shift is accelerating. And don't be surprised if we take a step forward in wins while taking a step backward in collective talent. Acquiring talent hasn't been our biggest issue. Our biggest issue has been the inability to build a team. Will the new regime pull it off? Impossible to say. But you can't say they're not trying. 

On that note, welcome Matt Flynn. Let 'er rip. Your new football life starts now.