This will be a weekly segment in which I provide my opinion on the state of the Oakland Raiders. I encourage each, and every reader of this blog to comment or ask questions, whether you agree or disagree with the opinion I provide.
I feel robbed of the NFL Draft. Seriously, any other year the draft would have been concluding. All of us pundits would be spinning our yarn about this player and that player, which team had the best draft and which team improved the most, etc… Yet, here we are waiting for something that has taken forever to get here. The way I see it, I’m tired of all the draft talk. I imagine the readers must be too. It’s time to make some picks.
Well, not me. I stand by my continuing belief that the Oakland Raiders will trade down. I don’t know how far down, but I imagine it will be anywhere from 8th to 15th. Reggie likes the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th rounders. Hell, he likes undrafted free agents. In any event, let’s talk about our team, the Raiders.
The way I see it, the defensive backfield improved greatly over the last few months. With free agent acquisitions (CB-Carlos Rogers & CB-Tarell Brown) and re-signing free agents (FS-Charles Woodson & FS-Usama Young), it will be much improved from 2013. Add these players to the cast including CB/DB’s-Johnny Adams, Chance Casey, Chimdi Chekwa, D.J. Hayden, Taiwan Jones, Neiko Thorpe, Tony Dye, S-Shelton Johnson and SS’s-Brandian Ross and Tyvon Branch, and you have depth mixed with veteran leadership and youth. These are the cornerstones of producing an outstanding defensive backfield.
That, of course, is just covering the secondary. As far as the Raiders linebackers corps goes, 2013 was a vast improvement from 2012. Questionable acquisitions made in the off-season of 2013 proved their worth. LB’s Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett spearheaded the 2013 free agent acquisitions, and along with 2013 3rd round draft pick Sio Moore, they became a tackling force in 2013.
The improvements were dictated in their stats as indicated here: Nick Roach (112 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 interception), Kevin Burnett (105 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception), and Sio Moore (50 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble). Let’s put their numbers into retrospect with Pro-Bowl selected LB’s: San Francisco 49ers Patrick Willis (104 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles), Kansas City Chiefs Derrick Johnson (107 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions), SF 49er Navorro Bowman (145 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions), New England Patriots Jerod Mayo (55 tackles and 1.5 sacks), and finally Arizona Cardinals Daryl Washington (75 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions).
This does not cover all the Pro-Bowl caliber LB’s, but it gives a good depiction of what kind of numbers a Pro-Bowl type LB must possess. Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett, and even Sio Moore had those types of numbers, but they weren’t on a playoff team. Something that I guess counts more than stats and ability. The funny thing is, Roach and Burnett’s numbers were above average as far as stats are concerned, but less tacklers were selected due to popularity or their teams placement at the end of the season.