After a month of contentious negotiations, the Raiders finally played hardball with Khalif Barnes.
In a move straight out of the Ned Colletti handbook, the Raider front office seemingly pulled out of the Khalif Barnes sweepstakes, daring the San Diego native to find a better offer.
Needless to say, there were no other offers out there. Barnes has signed a one-year deal and is #70 in your game day programs, Raider Nation.
Well played, Al Davis.
Now that the front office has put that baby to bed, it’s time to wake the sleeping giant known as the NFL Draft.
The arrival of Barnes is a pretty clear sign that the Raider staff is no longer considering the selection of a tackle in the draft. In fact, NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi has gone as far as to say that the Raiders promised Khalif Barnes that they would not select an offensive tackle in April’s draft.
At this point, Lombadri’s lone rival for the title of “Worst Raider Journalist” is Chris Mortensen. Lombardi, a former Raider personnel executive, loves to spread unfounded rumors about his past employer and was one of the main culprits in the “T.O. to Oakland” fiasco.
I’m sure Barnes wanted to be assured that he’s getting a chance to start, but I find it hard to believe that a guy who signed a one-year deal would need a promise of that magnitude.
Whatever the case is, Barnes is in and a tackle in round one is out.
Now the serious speculation can begin. What will the Raiders do with that #7 pick?
One theory out there is that one, if not both, of the top two receivers in draft will be available at #7. Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin have been the national media’s popular picks for the Raiders.
Oakland’s receiving core does need a facelift. But with the late emergence of Johnnie Lee Higgins and Zach Miller looking like he’s destined for a Pro Bowl selection, that facelift might just be a Jerry Jones tightening and not so much a Joan Rivers overhaul.
The Raider run defense out ranked only the Detroit Lions in 2008. Going after Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji at #7 could be a very real possibility. If Tommy Kelly is to emerge as a dominant tackle, then he’s going to need a partner to help him stuff the run and create more passing situations.
Nnamdi Asomugha captained one of the top pass defenses in the NFL last season. Daring the opposition to throw at the Raider secondary is an equation that could yield three and outs, thus giving the offense more possessions. There is still a large question looming as to who will play safety after Gibril Wilson was shown the door.
Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was considered the top DB in the draft prior to the combine. Most feel that he is still the best talent at his position, but due to his slow 40 time, he could be better suited as a safety. Just a thought, but Al Davis does loves defensive backs and it appears that Jenkins will be sitting there at #7. Not a move I endorse, but it is something to ponder.
Perhaps the biggest fallout from the Khalif Barnes signing is what his arrival means relative to the offensive tackles in the 2009 draft.
Tom Cable’s bread and butter is the offensive line. Rest assured that he was paying careful attention at the combine and has sat with Jim Michalczik through numerous scouting videos.
Either Coach Cable believes that he won’t be able to get his guy at #7 or that the tackles in this draft are just not going to live up to the hype. This doesn’t bode well for Alabama’s Andre Smith, whom many believed would be the name called when the Raiders are on the clock in April. His stock continues to drop.
One of my favorite Raider writers, Patrick Patterson of Thoughts from the Dark Side, has offered one of the better theories on what the Raiders should do with their first round pick: trade it. It’s a good read and might just be the best option for the Raiders at #7.
Topics: Al Davis, Andre Smith, B.J. Raji, Chris Mortensen, Gibril Wilson, Jeremy Maclin, Jim Michalczik, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Khalif Barnes, Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Crabtree, Michael Lombardi, Ned Colletti, Nnamdi Asomugha, Patrick Patterson, Tom Cable, Tommy Kelly, Zach Miller