In the second part of my Raiders overview, I would like to look at how we sit on the defensive side of the ball.
Since my overview of the offense, the Raiders have signed center Samson Satele. He was traded from the Miami Dolphins with Miami's 4th round pick in this years draft. In exchange, the Raiders gave up their 4th round pick (18 spots higher then Miami's), and our 6th round pick.
I made mention that the center position would be a position of need for our Raiders, and projected that taking one in the 2nd or 3rd round would be key to the developement of this offensive line. With Satele taken fron Miami, it now makes our need for a center far less, and in fact, not much of a concern at all.
Satele has some nocks against him, and I believe that I need to mention that right off the bat. He has short arms, and doesn't have a mean streak. He doesn't play with a lot of emotion and his aggression is low. With that said, he doesn't fit in well with the kind of teams that like players with an over abundance of hyperactive activity, which is why the Dolphins replaced him.
Personally, I see a team that took a guy that has been injured in 4 of the 5 years that he has been in the league, replacing a guy that has played every game in his 2 year career. (Jake Grove vs Samson Satele)
I would say that the Raiders won this battle, and regardless of which center is better then the other, I would take the guy that can stay healthy, over the guy that is constantly on IR. Plus, Satele has just as much potential as any center in the draft, so giving up a 6th round pick, and swapping 4ths is one heak of a great deal for us.
Case and point, we now have one less hole to fill, and our offensive needs have been depleated.
Now, lets focus on the D!
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren, Terdell Sands, William Joseph
I like Tommy Kelly. He has the capibility to be one heak of a great defensive tackle, and he started to prove that last year. The problem is that he didn't have the support from his co tackle, and it made him look bad. I believe that if new defensive co-ordinator John Marshall can get a second defensive tackle to play some solid football, we will see Kelly have that breakout year that we within that Raider nation are waiting for.
Terdell Sands & Gerard Warren are two in the same. Both were projected for greatness, and both have not lived up to the hype. Maybe Marshall will be able to get one of these two guys to live up to expectations, but waiting for that to happen is not in the cards. There will most likely be another DT added to the fold, via this years draft, and he will most likely fight Warren and Sands for that starting spot.
William Joseph was resignedthis offseason, and he will simply fight for a roster spot. I'm sure his signing was not in the high numbers and I would also bet that no promises were made. He has some talent, but he is simply a backup.
Overall the defensive tackle position is our biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball, and quite possibily overall. We need to solve our run stopping problem if we can expect to compete in this league. With LT, LJ and whoever the Broncos put on the field, running against us in the AFC West, we need to be able to stop the run better. That starts with the defensive tackles, and works out from there. I wouldn't put much stock in trading for a DT or signing one through free agency, so the draft, and in house is where this will be addressed.
Draft need? Absolutely! We need to take the best DT in either the 1st or 2nd round of the draft. If B.J. Raji is available in round 1, he will be a very intriguing prospect. If we wait for round 2, we might be looking at Ron Brace, Evander Hood or Fili Moala. Any way that you look at it, we simply cannot put all of our stock in what we have, so drafting a DT, and drafting one very high, will be key.
Defensive End Jay Richardson, Derrick Burgess, Trevor Scott, Derrick Gray, Greyson Gunheim
Make no mistake about it, our best defensive End is not Derrick Burgess, it's Jay Richardson. Richardson is emerging as a truly elite DE, and he is set to have his breakout year in 2009.
Derrick Burgess may just be a one hit wonder. He came to Oakland and had an outstanding year in his first season with the Silver and Black, but since then, he has been plagued with injuries and inconsistant play. He is definately on the trading block, and if the Raiders can get a decent return for him, look to see him moved before, or during the 09 draft next month. If the market for him is low, look for him to remain in the lineup and fight for his starting spot with Trevor Scott.
Trevor Scott started to get a lot of playing time at the end of the season last year and was very impressive. He may just have that pass rush attack that every team needs, and now entering into his second year, look for him to fight for that starting spot. In fact, look for him to earn that starting spot, because even if Burgess is not moved, I believe that the position is Scotts to loose.
Derrick Gray & Greyson Gunheim will simply fight for a roster spot. Both players have potential, but that potential is low.
Overall we have a decent core of defensive Ends. We have a lot of potential in Richardson and Scott, so the worry is much lower the most teams. We may not get all that we expect out of them, but they have shown enough to warrent a chance at taking the reins and rolling with it. Burgess is also a nice wildcard because he has the talent to be a probowler once again, and if not, maybe some good trade bait for some draft picks.
Draft need? Not that high. Lets face it, if you can snatch up a solid DE prospect, you simply have to do so, but if none are available in the later round of the draft, we don't need to worry about finding one.
Linebacker Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Jon Alston, Ricky Brown, Sam Williams, Marquis Cooper
First off, I would like to send my deepest sympathies out to the family and friends of Marquis Cooper. There is not much hope that Cooper survived his fishing trip only a short time ago, and his memory will stay with all of us within the Raider Nation. Cooper came to be a very big part of our late season success last year, and his loss will be felt, while his pressence will be missed.
Kirk Morrison is the backbone of this defense, as he leads this team in tackles every year. He is a solid inside linebacker, and can be moved to the outside if necessary. In fact, his natural position is on the outside.
Thomas Howard has been very good for the Silver and Black also, and he helps secure a solid linebackers core. His pass coverage is good, and his ability to find the ball is impressive.
Ricky Brown is a good LB and he fills a role well. He may not be a superstar, but he can get the job done.
Isaiah Ekejuba was resigned by the Raiders not just to be a backup LB, but because he is one heak of a great special teams ace. His special teams skills make him hard to pass up, and having him back is great news for this team.
Jon Alston is a restricted free agent, and he will most likely be resigned to this team. He is young and has shown some improvement in the past, so his value is definately there.
Sam Williams was supposed to be that final piece to the LB core. He simply hasn't lived up to expectations, and with his status as a UFA, his time in Oakland may be over. If he doesn't get enough interest in the free agent market, and would be willing to resign for a lesser contract, it would be nice to have him back. He may just flurrish under Marshalls system.
Overall our linebacker core is good. We have two solid guys in Morrison and Howard, and it would be nice to truly have that third guy. If we need to stick with what we have, we will still be in good shape.
Draft need? Yes. We may want
to find a linebacker in the later round, but not in the first 3. It is not a key position of need, but as mentioned with defensive ends, good linebackers should not be passed up.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, John Bowie
Securing Nnamdi Asomugha was the biggest offseason priority and it was done. Asomugha is the best CB in the league and he secures half the field alone.
Chris Johnson was also resigned this offseason and he may prove to be one heak of a great signing. He replaced DeAngelo Hall last year and played very well. He may not be the final answer, but he has earned the chance to be the starter in 09.
Stanford Routt has been a great number 3 guy, but he is simply nothing more then that. He is great to have on the team and he fills a role, but he is not a key factor, or a star player.
John Bowie hasn't had much success in the health department. He is young and promising, but his stock doesn't sit too high.
Overall having someone to secure the side opposite Asomugha will be key. Johnson will be given the chance, and he has proven that he can be that guy. I like our core.
Draft need? Very little. As mentioned before, Johnson is going to be the key in how our corners do, because if he can hold the fort, our backfield will be fine.
Defensive Back Darrick Brown, Justin Miller, Jason Horton
A DB is a guy that can play on the corner or the safety position, and we have a couple that can do so. None of the three are big name, or high potential starters, but they do fill a role. Justin Miller is a return specialist and his main value lies with that.
Safety Michael Huff, Hiram Eugene, Tyvon Branch
Michael Huff was drafted in the 1st round a couple years ago and has not lived up to potential. He may get the chance to do so, under new defensive co-ordinator John Marshall, but his stock is growing thin.
Hiram Eugene was born in the same year, and the same day as I was, so clearly I like the guy. He is not a superstar, but he can fill his role well, and he may be our starting free safety for 09.
Tyvon Branch had limited action in his rookie season last year, but when he played, he played well. He may have been a steal in the 4th round last year, and he will be given the chance to start this year. He may just be that solid safety that we need.
Overall we are very thin at the safety position. Looking into a veteran player through free agency may be a good option, and signing a guy like Roy Williams would be great. Regardless of how good our current player can be, we simply don't have enough of them.
Draft need? Yes. Providing that we do not take someone in free agency, we will need to draft someone. It will not be a need in the start of the draft, but it should be addressed by the later rounds.
We have a very good defense, and we have a good amount of star players. We are thin on the safety position, and we need to secure the tackle spot, but overall we should be a solid unit in 09.
The key to our defensive success will be how well and how quickly the players adapt to the system that defensive co-ordinator John Marshall will bring in. This will be a new look defense, and everything will be up in the air.
If some of the players that we have, that haven't lived up to their name yet can have break out years, we can once again be among the best in the league on defense. Gerard Warren, Terdell Sands, Michael Huff, Chris Johnson, Ricky Brown, are among those players that have to prove their worth in 09.
Next up, I will have my Draft preview. The preview will include who I believe the Raiders will take in the draft, and who I believe they should take.
About the Author
Written by Lee Tremblay