Raiders Hope Andre Hardy Is Next Antonio Gates

Basketball and football have always been connected in one way or another. Al Davis openly admitted that John Wooden’s defensive style was the biggest influence on his usage of the bump and run. For whatever reason every football player thinks he can ball. And for good measure these days most power forwards seem to think they can play football too.

That’s just one of the reasons why the Raiders are taking a chance on Cal State Fullerton power forward Andre Hardy. Though he’s never played a snap of collegiate football the Raiders signed the soon to be NFL tight end today. For a breakdown on Hardy you can check JBB’s draft analysis of him from earlier this week.

Collegiate hoopsters turning into NFL pass catchers are nothing new under the sun, especially not in the AFC West and definitely not for the Raiders.

Naturally the conversation begins with man most refer to as perhaps the best tight to end ever play. Before Tony Gonzalez was terrorizing the AFC West as a Chief he was a two sport stud at UC Berkley.

As for the Raiders, this isn’t unfamiliar territory at all. Al Davis once took a tight end from Ohio State with the ninth pick in the draft named Rickey Dudley who just so happened to also play hoops for the Buckeyes. In more recent years Stanford alum Teyo Johnson was a second round pick as a tight end that doubled as a forward for the Cardinal hoops squad.

Between the two Dudley had the better career though he never lived up to his top 10 draft status. Johnson was out of the NFL in three years largely due to his JaMarcus Russell-esque work ethic but mainly due to his T.O.-like attitude.

While we’re on the subject might as well mention Ronald Curry who played quarterback and point guard for the University of North Carolina before becoming a wide receiver in Oakland.

Of course the man that really brought the hoops to football conversion into the modern era was San Diego Charger Antonio Gates. Here is where the Raiders are hoping to catch lightening in a bottle. Like Hardy, Gates played no collegiate football whatsoever yet was unearthed by the San Diego scouting department. He has sine gone on to become one of the most dangerous weapons in the history of the position.

Perhaps influenced by  Gates’ transition, Hardy no doubt saw him play for the Bolts as he went to high school in San Diego. Hardy’s father also has a football background playing for three different franchises during his brief NFL career in the 80’s.

Recently New Orleans record setter Jimmy Graham has taken a similar route.

So, just because Reggie McKenzie is doing away with many of the Al Davis practices doesn’t mean the Davis philosophies aren’t still alive and well. Rolling the dice on an unproven yet athletically gifted player with potential is right out of the Davis playbook. Unless Hardy can beat out David Ausberry, Richard Gordon or Brandon Myers then chances are Hardy will be a practice squad player if he makes it to the final roster cuts and clears waivers. That is unless Dennis Allen goes Hue Jackson and carries four tight ends on the 53-man.

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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Andre Hardy Antonio Gates Brandon Myers David Ausberry Dennis Allen Hue Jackson Jimmy Graham John Wooden Reggie McKenzie Richard Gordon Rickey Dudley Ronald Curry Teyo Johnson Tony Gonzalez

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