Tag:Oakland Raiders
Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Could option make Denver the Georgia Tech of NFL?

For the first time in his two seasons as a Denver Bronco, Tim Tebow was allowed to function in the spread option offense that he helped make famous while at the University of Florida.

The result was a surprisingly dominant running game (299 rushing yards, two touchdowns) against the Oakland Raiders Sunday. The victory made Tebow 2-1 in his three starts this season and shockingly enough put the Broncos only a game behind first place in the AFC West.

Coaches have long argued that the option offense would not work in the NFL as defensive players at the professional level are simply too fast. The same, however, was said about the spread offense and while I'm not about to suggest that June Jones or Steve Spurrier's current schemes would work against the Baltimore Ravens' defense, the proliferation of a shotgun-based offense has helped make the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots (to name a few) some of the league's most lethal passing attacks.

Quite frankly, I am among those who do not believe the option (or spread option, in this case) is going to be consistently effective against NFL teams. However, I do believe that whatever time and effort a team can force an opponent to specifically game-plan against them is energy well spent.

After all, this is the primary reason why many have suggested that Paul Johnson's triple-option offense has been successful at Georgia Tech (and previously at Navy, Georgia Southern). It isn't that his Yellow Jackets boast elite talent. Since he took over at Georgia Tech, only wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ironically enough, also a Bronco) has been taken higher than the fourth round after playing on the offensive side of the ball for Johnson. Simply put, few NCAA teams are capable of mastering defense of the option with only one week in which to prepare for it.

The same could wind up being true for the Denver Broncos.

One thing is certain. The Kansas City Chiefs will have prepared for Tebow and the spread option much more than the Oakland Raiders had. Whether Denver is successful running this offense or not, the fact that they've forced the Chiefs to devote time to game-planning for their unique attack gives Denver an advantage (albeit maybe only a slight one) heading into a key divisional game.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Trade for Palmer an indictment on Terrelle Pryor?

Upon hearing the news of the Raiders' expensive trade for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, I called around to a few league sources to gauge their reaction.

All were surprised that the Raiders gave up what they did -- their 2012 first round pick and at least their second round pick of the 2013 draft. One league scout, who requested anonymity, but allowed me to identify him as NOT an employee of the Raiders, brought up an interesting point.

Why make this trade if you're Oakland unless you've been less than impressed with former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whom the Raiders selected in the third round of the supplemental draft in August.

It was a commonly held belief among scouts that Pryor needed significant time before he could realistically be expected to start at quarterback in the NFL. Still, with plenty of street free agent and backup quarterbacks throughout the league available at a fraction of Palmer's cost, clearly the Raiders aren't just adding the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 draft for their immediate needs, but for their future, as well.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:14 am
 

McAdoo, King, Wilson, Mace sign deals

The NFL's supplemental draft came and went Monday with Terrelle Pryor being the only one of the six eligible players to get drafted.

Since, three others have signed NFL free agent contracts. Another has signed with the IFL. Only former Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones remains without a deal to play for a professional team.

Michael McAdoo signed with the Baltimore Ravens a day after the draft. He had been pursued by a few teams, but surprised clubs by showing up to pre-draft team visits in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. McAdoo had been listed by North Carolina at 6-7, 245 pounds. The former defensive end will be asked to play outside linebacker for Baltimore.

Caleb King signed with the Minnesota Vikings yesterday (Wednesday). Like McAdoo, King surprised teams with his build -- and not necessarily in a good way. He appeared to be "out of shape" according to Tom Pellisero and dropped two passes in his practice debut with the club. King had been viewed by some as a potential draft pick, until being clocked at only 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash in a pre-draft workout.

Perhaps the most interesting signing is Wilson, who was signed yesterday by the New York Jets. Wilson, 6-2, 203 pounds, didn't receive much in terms of pre-draft buzz due to a "pro-day" workout that some teams characterized as "not NFL caliber." The Jets clearly didn't agree and it is difficult to argue with Wilson's success at Northern Illinois. He posted 171 tackles over the past three years for the Huskies, recovering four fumbles and intercepting a pass during that time, as well.

There was a lot of buzz, on the other hand, about Mace. While Mace did generate some interest from clubs prior to and following the draft, it was discovered that he could not sign with an NFL team due to a pre-existing contract with the UFL. Mace has signed with the Omaha Nighthawks, as first reported via Twitter by the team's general manager Rick Mueller. Mueller had worked previously in the NFL, serving as a scout and college scouting director with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1994-2000) before moving on to be the Director and later Vice President of Player Personnel with the New Orleans Saints (2000-2008). 
Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Pryor taken by OAK (3rd rd) in draft's only move

The supplemental draft always brings with it a certain amount of hype. Fans hoping that their team might add one more talented player to the roster before the season begins will always pay some attention to the event.

The 2011 supplemental draft carried even more intrigue that most, however, due to the presence of Terrelle Pryor and as well as the presence of a few other legitimate NFL-caliber prospects. The draft was for six players the NFL found eligible. Alphabetically, they are: Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, Georgia running back Caleb King, Lindenwood University/Allen Wranglers (IFL) defensive end Keenan Mace, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson.

Pryor was selected by the Raiders in the third round. It is not known if any other teams put in a 3rd round bid for Pryor. Certainly none did who owned a pick higher than the Raiders, who a source charactized as picking "in the middle of the pack." The draft order is not released to the media, though I was able to learn that the Dallas Cowboys had been rewarded with the first pick and the Pittsburgh Steelers with the last one. Therefore, the Cowboys and according to the source several other clubs passed on Pryor in the third round before Oakland.***

The draft order is not determined by simply win/loss records as in the April draft. The 32 teams are placed into three groups and a weighted lottery is conducted to determine the order. For a more detailed explanation, see here.

As it turned out, Pryor was the only player selected.

Pryor has an exceptionally rare -- perhaps never before seen -- combination of size and straight-line speed for the quarterback position. He lacks the decision-making skills, anticipation and accuracy at this time, however, to enjoy consistent success as a full-time quarterback playing against NFL defenses. What he does offer is an athletic phenom capable of running, passing and receiver from specialized sets. He could be an extraordinary Wildcat option.

It will be interesting to see how the Raiders believe Pryor fits into their current roster. The team has an obvious starter in Jason Campbell and two former starters vying for the primary backup position in Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards. The team also has undrafted rookie Jordan La Secla on the roster. Most teams keep three quarterbacks during the regular seasons, so La Secla and either Boller or Edwards are likely heading to the waiver wire soon.

There is also the possibility that the Raiders are one of the teams that believes Pryor's NFL future lies at wide receiver or tight end. Al Davis' love of speed knows no bounds. There is always an opportunity to see the field in Oakland if one possesses enough speed and playmaking ability.

The five remaining players not selected can sign with any team as an undrafted free agent. King, Mace and McAdoo are expected to draw the most attention.

***ESPN.com's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Raiders owned the 18th pick of the draft.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:42 am
 

What to expect in today's supplemental draft

Pushed back over a month from its regularly scheduled date due to the lockout and a bizarre controversy over player eligibility (Terrelle Pryor), the NFL's supplemental draft will begin today at 1 pm Eastern.

This draft, unlike the one in April, will be carried out via email. Teams won't even known the order until approximately 30 minutes prior to the draft. There will be no television cameras in the war rooms. The event won't spark much more than passing interest from your local sports media outlets -- unless, of course, your team elects to draft one of the six players deemed eligible. Alphabetically, they are: Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, Georgia running back Caleb King, Lindenwood University/Allen Wranglers (IFL) defensive end Keenan Mace, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson.

The vast majority of the focus on these six players has been on Terrelle Pryor -- and for good reason. At this point, he is the only player seemingly assured of being selected. Though his workout was not nearly as impressive in its totality as his 4.38-4.41 second 40-yard dash was to begin the Pro Day, the speed shown by the 6043 (six foot, four and 3/8"), 232 pound has definitely created a buzz. I have consistently heard the Steelers, Raiders and Bengals are the three teams most interested in adding Pryor. There has been a lot of talk of a third round pick. The fact that Pryor is suspended for nearly a third of the regular season might push him down a round or two.

King has also generated a great deal of interest. There were at least seven teams at his Pro Day workout last week, including Washington, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Media reports following the workout had King (listed at 5-11, 225) as having run in the 4.4s. According to one high level league source, however, King's "officially" was measured at 5106 (five foot, ten and 3/4") and 211 pounds. He was timed at 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash on an ideal outdoor field turf surface. King has some power as an interior runner, flashes an impressive spin move and shows some lateral agility to avoid defenders. As his slow time suggests, however, he does not have the speed to gain yardage in big chunks against NFL competition. One element of his game that will help his cause is that King is a physical and responsible pass blocker. Still, measuring in slower and lighter than expected, King is looking at a late round (6th-7th) selection, at best. He will almost surely be signed as a free agent if not drafted.

McAdoo is thought by some to be the most intriguing of the remaining prospects. Listed at 6-7, 245 pounds, however, scouts were surprised when he instead showed up to some private workouts in the 230s. McAdoo's length and surprising strength still make him quite a developmental prospect as a pass rusher. He flashed throughout his career and appeared poised to enjoy a real breakout season as Robert Quinn's primary backup for UNC. McAdoo could get a late round sniff, but the feeling among most teams is that he'll slip to free agency.

Mace was signed by the Dallas Cowboys out of the IFL following a collegiate career at Lindenwood University. After a few days practicing with the Cowboys, however, Mace was informed that because he signed with Dallas having not used up all of collegiate eligibility (and not petitioning the NFL for early entry), he was not allowed to be on an NFL roster yet until having gone through the supplemental draft. At roughly 6-4, 313 pounds, Mace played defensive tackle at Lindenwood before switching to defensive end for the Allen Wranglers. He is at his best inside, showing a quick burst off the snap and good strength. He does not possess the lateral agility and closing speed to make many stops outside of the tackle box, but plays with effort and has an intriguing big body capable of contributing to a team using either front. Most teams view his best position as a three-technique defensive tackle for the 4-3. Opinions vary signficantly with Mace. Many clubs view him as a free agent, though there have been some rumblings that he could sneak ahead of King and McAdoo and be a 6th or 7th round pick.

Unfortunately for Jones and Wilson, there does not seem to be a great deal of interest from NFL clubs. Wilson's Pro Day workout was taken in by a few teams, though the NIU safety was unable to demonstrate the caliber of athleticism scouts were looking for.

 
Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- Illinois ILB Martez Wilson

Continuing my week-long feature on prospects at each position that have more on the line at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine than most, I present Illinois junior inside linebacker Martez Wilson.

Wilson is NFLDraftScout.com's top rated inside linebacker for the 2011 draft. A highly touted prep star, he signed with Illinois with much fanfare, but until the 2010 season had been considered a bit of a disappointment. Wilson's production shot up in his junior season, however. He went from recording 73 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in his first starting season to 112 stops, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also contributed three forced fumbles, an interception and a blocked kick, earning First-Team All-Big Ten accolades.

At an estimated 6-4, 250 pounds, Wilson certainly possesses the prototypical size to man the inside linebacker position in the NFL. Athletic enough to beat the back to the sideline as a true 4-3 Mike and physical enough to take on blockers as a 3-4 ILB, Wilson is one of a scant few in this year's relatively weak class capable of starring in either scheme.  Some teams even feel that Wilson has the natural pass rush skills and agility in coverage to warrant developing as an outside linebacker in either scheme.

For all of his obvious assets, however, Wilson has a lot riding on his Combine performance. Certainly scouts want to see if the burst and agility seen on tape is replicated in workouts.

More importantly, teams need to investigate the neck injury which sidelined Wilson for all but the opener of the 2009 season. Wilson registered nine tackles against Missouri, but suffered a herniated disk and was granted a medical redshirt. Considering the collisions he'll face as an NFL linebacker, pro teams' medical staffs aren't going to necessarily give Wilson medical clearance just because Illinois' did.

Teams are also going to want to talk to Wilson regarding his sudden jump in production. Is he a player coming into his own or is he motivated by the big NFL contract? Teams will attempt to find the answer to all of these questions this week in Indianapolis.

Should Wilson pass the medical, interview and athletic questions this week, he has a chance to slip into the late first round. Wilson's value could be enhanced simply because he is viewed by many clubs as the clear-cut top rated ILB. The drop to Michigan State's Greg Jones and North Carolina's Quan Sturdivant (NFLDraftScout.com's next two highest rated ILBs) is significant. Also significant is the fact that Wilson has the experience to play inside or out. He played outside for the Illini in 2008 before making the switch to the middle for his abbreviated 2009 campaign, as well as this past season.

Though inside linbebackers have traditionally dropped a bit on draft day, the Oakland Raiders made former Alabama star Rolando McClain the No. 8 overall pick last year. There have been eight inside linebackers drafted in the first round since the 2000 draft.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:19 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 11:21 am
 

Young NFL QBs Tebow, Flynn, etc impress

As you've no doubt heard or read before, the NFL is a results business. For all of the hype that Tim Tebow received coming out of college (and the little that Matt Flynn had), they were among a group of young passers forced to prove themselves Sunday.

Tim Tebow's starting debut, of course, was the player most focused on. Tebow was unable to lead the Broncos to a victory in Oakland, but played better than his statistics might lead you to believe. The Broncos protected their rookie quarterback with a run-heavy attack. Tebow completed 8 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He would have thrown for another TD had RB Lance Ball not dropped a short pass in the endzone. Tebow also led the team with 78 rushing yards, including a 40 yard touchdown run that showcased the Heisman form that helped him overtake Herschel Walker as the SEC's career leader in touchdowns. Tebow wasn't spectacular, but considering that Denver had lost 59-14 at home to the Raiders in October and were tied at 20-20 in the 3rd quarter before Oakland was able to pull away late to win 39-20), Tebow showed plenty of upside.

Perhaps the most surprising performance of the day -- at least to some -- came from Green Bay Packers' backup Matt Flynn . Flynn, a three year veteran making his first career start, out-shined MVP candidate Tom Brady for much of the night, completing 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception. Flynn played poorly a week earlier after Packers' starter Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion against Detroit. Flynn's improvement in this game wasn't a surprise to Packers' brass. They are very high on Flynn, as evidenced by the fact that they kept him over 2008 second round choice Brian Brohm. In fact, as I noted in this space in September of 2009, some of the reason why Packers' GM Ted Thompson forced Brett Favre to either retire or accept a trade to a team other than the Vikings was the belief in the former LSU standout, Flynn.
Flynn's performance will hardly unseat Aaron Rodgers, but it does provide the Packers with the assurance that they have a reliable backup and trade commodity.

Tebow and Flynn's efforts in losses weren't the only highlights from young quarterbacks, however.

The Carolina Panthers got their first win under rookie Jimmy Clausen . Clausen was far from spectacular in the Panthers' 19-12 victory over Arizona, but he was more efficient than fellow rookie John Skelton, completing 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He did not commit a turnover - only the second time in eight starts this season that's he thrown for a TD and not had a turnover. Clausen wasn't so good that the Panthers should consider anyone other than Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, should the Stanford redshirt sophomore come out early and Carolina end the season with the worst record. He was good enough, however, to allow the team to look at another position (rather than reach for another developmental QB) should Luck remain at Stanford. 

In terms of efficiency, Cleveland's Colt McCoy (19-25 for 243 yards and two TDs) was actually the most impressive rookie quarterback of the day. The Browns struggled to maintain drives against the Bengals, however, and lost to Cincinnati, breaking Marvin Lewis' squad's 10-game losing streak. McCoy's two touchdowns came on a trick play in the first quarter and a defensive breakdown in the 4th.

The Broncos, Packers, Panthers and Browns have plenty of decisions to make before the April draft. Some of those decisions, however, may have been made easier with the performances of their young QBs yesterday.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com