The Oakland Raiders allowed a few members of the Bay Area media behind the iron curtain today for a Q&A session with head coach Tom Cable.
Thanks to Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times for posting the entire transcript from the press conference which can be read here.
With the free agency frenzy in the rear view mirror, off-season workouts in full swing and the draft square in the cross hairs, the Raider head coach took a little time to enlighten eager fans and local media alike on burning issues.
Those rumblings of a potential draft day trade aren’t just blogger and message board fodder after all. Tom Cable stated, “It has to be an option”, when asked if the Raiders were open to moving back in the first round. Though he was quick to say, “I don’t think there’s a lot of history to that”, with regards the Raiders moving out of the top 10 on draft day.
Now that Raider fans have had nearly three months of draft debate, Cable has narrowed the short list to four potential first round picks.
“Four spots. I’m not going share them with you either. But I know we need one of four guys.”
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle speculates that those four are offensive tackle Andre Smith, defensive tackle B.J. Raji and wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
Cable, a former offensive line coach, can’t hide his fascination with the depth of talent at the left tackle position in the 2009 draft. “There’s four of them”, Cable said of the top tackles in the draft, “There’s four of them that are outstanding at that position. Outstanding.”
The obvious conclusion is that Cable is referring to the afore mentioned Andre Smith, Jason Smith of Baylor, Eugene Monroe of Virginia and Michael Oher of Ole Miss.
There was a somewhat confusing report that surfaced when the Raiders signed Khalif Barnes stating that they had promised not to draft a tackle. When asked if Barnes was brought in to be a started Cable said, “I signed him expecting him to compete.”
Cable went on to say, “Mario did a great job at the end there. And Mario Henderson ain’t going away, and that’s a good thing for our football team.”
The other elephant in the Raider draft room is Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. After having to forego all workouts prior to the draft due to foot surgery, Crabtree has been the hub for plenty of speculation. Cable is undeterred by the top receiver’s injury and lack of pre-daft workouts.
“Yeah, he’s on film, he’s all over the place. He’s a great player, he is, he’s a great player so I think just looking at your normal evaluation of tape, of what he’s done throughout his career, there’s plenty to see. You know who that guy is.”
Clearly, Tom Cable sees Crabtree as the best receiver in the draft by far, “At the end of the day, it’s about touchdowns and production and if you look at that, there’s probably nobody better, you know? Nobody better.”
With so much talk of the offensive prospects in the draft, one might assume that the Raiders have no worries on defense. With a run defense ranked 31st out of 32 teams and questions surrounding the safety positions, the truth is that the defense is a top priority.
“I think you got to look at your scheme,” Cable said of the Raider run defense, “you got to look at how you’re coaching it and you got to look at your players and does the draft help any or all of those? Maybe. Do you have enough to do it with here? Yeah, I think so. We gotta clean some things up how we teach it within the scheme. But certainly you want to add and make your team better every chance you can.”
While more help is one the way through the draft, don’t expect John Marshall to reinvent the defensive wheel in Oakland. In fact, don’t expect there to me much of any philosophical change on defense at all.
“There will be a lot of similarity. Hopefully, we’ll just be maybe a little more fundamentally sound, a little more structured”, Cable said of Marshall’s defense.
Finally, Jeff Garcia’s second home coming has become the impetus for countless media outlets to turn a few of Cable’s words into an all out lack of faith in former number one pick JaMarcus Russell.
Of those now infamous words Cable uttered at the owners’ meetings just a few weeks ago he says, “I think it was just to reassure him [Russell], hey, I see that in you but you gotta keep doing it. You gotta do it all.”
Have those words had any affect on young JaMarcus?
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. That’s the part of it I’m excited about right now. He’s doing everything you’d want and then some. So we just gotta keep him on that course.”
(Author’s note: somehow I get the feeling that the quote above will not make the same rounds in the national media as Cable’s quotes from the owners’ meetings)
Cable also did his best to dispel any of the rumors surrounding Garcia’s arrival by plainly stating, “To be very clear in his role, his role is to come in and be a backup that you can go in with that, if necessary, he plays and then second I think it’s important that you have a guy that’s a pro in there that’s really been through a lot.”
When asked if Garcia is a mentor, Cable said, “Why not? You know, why not? I think that’s a good way to look at it, in many ways.”
While Cable was not going to give any concrete info as to what is going on behind the closed doors, his words do give Raider Nation a better understanding of what might be expected on draft day. Even if all that means is expecting the unexpected.
The NFL is set to release its full schedule. Stay tuned Raider fans, more to come…