Oakland Raiders Draft Review

by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com


1 – MLB Rolando McClain – Alabama
2 – DT Lamarr Houston – Texas
3 – OT Jared Veldheer – Hillsdale
4 – OT Bruce Campbell – Maryland
4 – WR Jacoby Ford – Clemson
5 – CB Walter McFadden – Auburn
6 – LB Travis Goethel – Arizona State
7 – CB Jeremy Ware – Michigan State
7 – CB Stevie Brown – Michigan

Owner Al Davis and the Raiders have made some ridiculously bizarre picks in recent years.  Whenever we do a mock draft and the Raiders pick comes up it is hard to rule out any move because you just don’t know what to expect.  All of that changed this year.  The Raiders didn’t make one unreasonable pick.  What happened?  I can only assume that aliens came to our planet and took the real Al Davis with them, leaving us some kind of fake replacement.  Maybe Al went voluntarily.  After all, if he was willing to consider moving the team to Irwindale what’s to stop him from looking at other planets…

Onto the picks.  The Raiders used the 8th overall pick to nab MLB Rolando McClain.  Al loves players that are fast and/or big.  McClain is a big MLB.  He had a great career at Alabama.  I thought there was a chance he’d go Top 10, but I didn’t see the Raiders going after him because of Kirk Morrison.  Obviously Oakland decided Kirk wasn’t their guy any more and dealt him.  McClain does make sense with Morrison out of the picture.  

Rolando played in a pro style D at ‘Bama.  That should ease his adjustment to the NFL.  McClain is big and strong enough to take on blockers.  He can be a surprisingly good pass defender for a guy his size.  He’s not great in coverage, but makes his share of plays and doesn’t look lost when he has to play in space.  McClain is smart and instinctive.  He ran the defense for Nick Saban at ‘Bama.  He is a natural leader and should be the kind of player that Davis will love.

In the 2nd round Oakland picked DL Lamarr Houston from Texas.  He played DE and DT in his college career, but will mostly play DE for the Raiders.  Houston (6’3, 305) is athletic enough to handle that.  He’s at his best attacking up the field.  He is quick off the ball and has a very good motor.  I was impressed with the way Houston played well in big games.  He was good against Oklahoma and Nebraska, then played great vs ‘Bama.  He had 10 total tackles and 2 TFLs (1 sack).  I think Houston is a good fit on the field, but I also like the kind of player he is.  Oakland needs guys that are productive, high character guys.  Houston isn’t some athletic project.  He has a good combination of talent and work ethic.  Those guys generally make good D-linemen.

The Raiders took OL Jared Veldheer in the 3rd round.  This was another good pick.  Veldheer (6’8, 312) went to tiny Hillsdale College, but he is a quality prospect.  He’s got the potential to play LT in the NFL.  If Jared can’t handle that spot, he should be able to shift over to RT.  He certainly has the size to play either spot.  When you watched him at the Combine you saw that he was more gifted than most players from the SEC, Big 12, or other major conferences.  I am curious to see how quickly Veldheer adapts to the NFL.  He didn’t play in the Senior Bowl so he’s never really faced any pass rusher of real NFL quality.  If he takes to pro coaching and can handle the speed of the NFL, Veldheer might be able to push for a starting role this year.  We’ve seen small school linemen do it before.

In the 4th Oakland took Bruce Campbell, the gifted OL from Maryland.  After his Combine workout, most people thought Campbell would go in the 1st or early 2nd.  His game tape didn’t match his workouts, but the numbers he posted were very, very impressive.  He was linked to the Raiders quite a bit and it seemed like the stereotypical Al Davis pick.  This time Oakland showed restraint and took Campbell where he was good value.  Going for an athletic project in the 4th round is fine.  The plan is to move Campbell to OG.  I have mixed feelings about this.  He wasn’t a consistently good run blocker at Maryland.  Is putting him inside the smart thing to do?  It does give him a chance to learn without having to handle the crucial OT spot.  Campbell is very talented naturally.  He has a good frame at 6’6, 314.  He just needs experience.  He didn’t start 20 games at Maryland.  I certainly understand the reluctance to put a raw player out on the edge.  I’m just not sure if Campbell can handle playing OG.  Can he blocking big DTs?  I guess we’ll find out when he practices against John Henderson.

The Raiders had another 4th round pick and used it on WR Jacoby Ford.  We knew Davis couldn’t resist a speedy receiver at some point.  Ford was good value at this point.  He does have excellent speed.  He needs time to develop as a receiver.  He ran simple routes in Clemson’s spread offense.  He’s got to learn how to get open and work the intermediate part of the field.  For now Oakland can feed him WR screens and use him on deep routes.  Ford has the RAC skills and speed to handle those kind of pass plays.  He also can help on STs.  Ford was a gifted returner in college.  He had 3 return TDs.  And you have to remember that number could have been higher, but he split time with CJ Spiller.

In the 5th round the Raiders took one of my favorite CBs, Walt McFadden of Auburn.  I thought he was an underrated player.  McFadden needs to bulk up a little (only 175 pounds), but he has good speed and cover skills.  He picked off 6 passes as a Senior.  He is a good hitter and tackler as well.  Walt will play the run.  He had 4.5 TFLs in ’09.  I thought McFadden was good value in the 5th round.  I think he will surprise some people and turn out to be a good starting CB in the NFL.

Oakland went for LB Travis Goethel in the 6th round…another player I liked and thought was under the radar.  Goethel has solid size at 6’2, 238.  He is an aggressive, downhill type of player.  He will attack blockers, whether the FB, TE, or an O-lineman.  Goethel projects to WLB or MLB.  I’m not sure if he has the instincts for the middle.  He always seemed at his best when he was flying to the ball.  The Raiders seem interested in him as an ILB.  He certainly is tough enough to play inside.  I think Goethel should be a very good STer because of his aggressive and physical style of play.

The Raiders had a pair of 7th round picks and took a couple of projects.  First up was CB Jeremy Ware from Michigan State.  He is a speedy CB prospect.  Ware (5’10, 183) timed really well in his workouts.  He is a good tackler and can be a big time hitter.  Check out his shot in the Iowa game to see what he can do.  He didn’t make many plays, though.  Ware only had 1 INT as a Senior.

The final pick was Michigan’s Stevie Brown.  He played LB for the Wolverines.  At only 6’0, 210 he’ll obviously have to move to DB in the pros.  Brown was productive in college.  He led the team in tackles as a Senior and added an INT and 8 TFLs.  I don’t have any problem with the Raiders using a 7th rounder on a project like this.  Brown should be a good STer at the least.  He’s got an uphill battle because of depth at Safety, but the Raiders obviously saw something they liked and felt he was worth taking.

Raiders draft tracker at NFL.com

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