Tom Cable held a press conference today to speak about the Raiders draft plans...sort of.
He, of course didn't want to give too much away so it is hard to say how much of what he says bears much truth to it. But being that Cable is known for being straightforward while still maintaining a good standard of "coach speak", something can be derived from what he said on Thursday.
First and foremost, he made no bones about the Raiders needs on the line.
"We have some line of scrimmage issues on both sides of the ball," Said Cable. "You know, I think those are some areas of concern."
But he didn't stop there. The offensive line and tackles in particular seemed to be the subject of the day which could be rather refreshing to many fans who have grimaced at the Raiders "skill position" picks in the past few years. Here is what Cable had to say about the prospect of choosing a tackle with the 8th overall pick-- a position he talked about at great length:
"If you're going to take [a tackle], he's going to come in and start for you. Whether on the right or left, that's not your issue. For example, there are some guys in there that are probably better rights than they are lefts and vice versa. So it just depends on who's available to you at that pick...You've got to have one or your quarterback gets killed, that's just the deal. And really, you have to have two...There are not enough tackles to go around for 32 football teams. You've got a group of 12-14 that are really good players, and yet you need 64 guys we're talking about here. There is just not enough of that position to go around.
"The guy playing right end in the league now is a different guy then he's ever been. You're talking about maybe the best athlete on the field in terms of combination of speed, power, explosiveness, change of direction. That player on defense is so good now, you have to find a way to match it."
Despite initially mentioning the line of scrimmage on both sides, while he talked a great deal about the offensive line, he seemed less enthusiastic about the possibility of drafting along the defensive line. Instead opting to talk up the players the Raiders already have on the roster.
"I think the move getting Kamerion Wimbley here is a big help in that direction. Desmond Bryant's development, Matt Shaughnessy's development probably has us very excited about what we can be there. With the guys coming back that are veteran types, but it's an area that we'll address at some point in the draft."
When he says "at some point in the draft" he either means in the mid-late rounds or he is throwing out smokescreens due to the Raiders' intentions of drafting a defensive end or defensive tackle in the first couple of rounds. But either way, it is all part of the game of draft strategy. We are all interested in what the Raiders might do but none of us really wants Cable to tip their hands do we? That would not be smart at all.
Aside from the trenches, Cable also added a few other positions the Raiders are in need of including linebacker and corner. Complete with one reporter throwing out a well worded question prompting Cable to all but admit the Raiders intentions of drafting a fullback.
"There are some guys you really like [at fullback], the question is; are they going to be available to you when you want to take one?, Responded Cable. "That's a special position so I would say probably as difficult position as there is to find, and when you do you're pretty fortunate to get it going... the second move shift guy all the time that you see in the college game, he's becoming the fullback at this level. There are not too many I-formation fullbacks left in college football."
This is music to the ears of many Raider fans who have witnessed several failed attempts at finding the answer at the fullback position for the Raiders. The revolving door has seen several go through it in the past couple seasons such as Justin Griffith, Luke Lawton, Oren O'Neal (injuries), Gary Russell, Marcel Reece, and Lorenzo Neal. There are a few good option at fullback in this draft. It seems highly likely that the Raiders take one in round 4 or 5.
Here are a few other notable quotes from Cable during the press conference:
"We get calls every day [about the #8 pick], which has just been really amazing to me and yet exciting to me... If something was really perfect for us, that really enhanced the draft, that's something that you have to consider."
"We have eight picks as of right now; if we can get eight guys that can make this football team, then that was a successful draft."
-- This would be opposed to last year's draft in which two picks didn't make the team out of camp. The two "All name team" guys; Round 4 pick Slade Norris and Round 6 pick Stryker Sulak. I'm not sure how I feel about lowering the bar to "if they all make the team" as your success measurment. I'll get back to you on that.
"As an organization, the most important thing to us is that we draft specifically where we feel a need for our football team. That's a good thing, before it was just get the best player you thought available at that spot."
-- Um...you may want to be careful Tom. Admitting mistakes of the recent past has never sat well with Al Davis. Still good to hear though.
"We're pretty united on the fact that we need to improve our football team with good football players, and try to find those guys that can run the fastest, jump the highest and all those things."
-- So which is it? The good football players or the freak athletes? Because clearly they have not been one and the same much lately.
"You like to have the guys that played on championship teams, the guys who were team captains, guys who were really hard-nosed, tough practice players, really put it out there on game day, take care of business off the field."
-- Am I the only one who thought this perfectly described Alabama ILB Rolando McClain?
Ok, on to the particulars.
The 75th NFL Draft is set for April 22-24 with seven rounds. The Raiders currently hold eight selections, including the eighth overall pick.
This year, the first round will begin at 4:30 p.m. PT, with rounds 2 and 3 taking place Friday, and rounds 4-7 concluding the Draft Saturday.