Oakland Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable was grinning ear to ear at the end of the seventh round of the NFL draft on Saturday. The team also made some key moves that had Raider Nation grinning alongside him. In all, through this draft and with one less fourth round pick in 2012, the Raiders added 12 potential new players to their current roster. Cable spoke highly with regards to the moves that the Raiders made over the three day NFL draft.
“We feel like we’re lucky. We made a couple of moves inside the draft that were very beneficial to us as a football team. We are very excited right now. We’re going to walk out of the room and say that the Raiders got better today,” said the former offensive line coach turned head coach. “There was a little more excitement [this year]. We were able to get who we wanted the first pick, second pick, move around a bit, get more for our team, and then get the guy we wanted for the third pick. The feeling in the room was that the draft kept coming to us. The last three days have been pretty great for us. We know we’re better we improved our team.”
Many of the folks who followed the draft closely are saying that this class is the best class Oakland has had in a long time. There were jokes circulating about Raiders’owner Al Davis being locked in a closet for the first three rounds of the draft this year-- I disagree.
Al Davis understands where this team is at now more than ever. Having a head coach like Tom Cable, who I find to be very forthcoming and honest, gives him a very keen insight into exactly what is going on with the football team. It also gives Cable the opportunity to have a say in the operations and inner workings of the team. I fully believe that Davis has complete confidence in his coaching staff at this point in time.
“I’ve said all along at some point things will start to change and the only way to do that is to make people feel like there’s change,” said Cable.
He went on to talk about the type of player he spent his time evaluating since the end of the 2009 season, “Smart, tough, and loves to work. If he can do those three things, if he is a guy in development, he’ll be pretty good. If you can promise me that you’ll work hard and take this like a job, then I’m ready to draft you.”
Cable said that he insisted every player the Raiders selected in the seven rounds of the draft make that promise to him. He also said he wanted to instill a sense of blue collar work ethic very early on. Most of these players are from schools where they are used to being the main attraction; as opposed to the NFL, where there are several hundred other players capable of playing at a high level.
Coach Cable also spoke of the Raiders' day 3 selections-- the first day 3 in NFL draft history.
“We’re going to put him there at right guard, right tackle, and go from there. I think the consistency in how he plays the game fundamentally, he is raw. There are some things fundamentally that he will improve upon very quickly. Bruce is going to have to understand that at this level it’s such a demanding thing, mentally, how hard you work every day, how hard you go after the ball is snapped. Once he gets that he is going to be an outstanding football player. One of the things that I value a lot is the guys we already have on our team being around these guys that we are drafting.”
“I’m looking for that guy to take the reins of this return game. He’s obviously a fast guy. He was the guy in high school, prep school, early on at Clemson before Spiller. He shared time with Spiller, who is a hard player to share time with. We felt like, gotta do it, and have to have him. We’ve been good covering kicks, but we haven’t been very good in the return game.”
“McFadden, probably to us, he is the one we were really geeked about today, we thought he was going to go earlier and he was there for us and we think he can definitely come in and help this team.”
“Goethel excites me because he is a true inside linebacker that’s a tough downhill player. I think he enhances our special teams.”
One of the most outstanding moves of the entire third day of the draft was the Raiders trading for former Washington Redskins quarterback, Jason Campbell. The Raiders were able to get Campbell from Redskins' new head coach, and longtime Al Davis rival, Mike Shanahan. And the deal cost next to nothing-- just a fourth round draft pick two years from now.
With the improvements that the Raiders have made since Cable took over as head coach, that fourth round pick could very well end up being a LATE fourth rounder. When Cable was asked about Jason Campbell joining the team, he had a lot to say.
“You’re looking at more height, more arm, can move around, he might have a little bit of [all of our QB’s] in him. We think he fits for what we’re doing. He’s got something new to look forward to and hopefully we are a good fit for him,” Cable said.“We’ve got five QB’s now and we’re going to have a great competition and we’re going to have some decisions to make. We felt like adding Jason to this football team was very important. He’s proven that he can do some things and be successful in the NFL.”
Perhaps Cable's classiest move of the day was when he spoke of the former Raiders middle linebacker Kirk Morrison. Morrison has long been a fan favorite and an active part of the Oakland community, not to mention leading the team in total tackles every year he was with the organization.
“I think from me personally to Kirk, thanks for the work, thanks for being a Raider. Kirk is an honorable man, he’s a tough one. Parting with guys like him, it’s just business, but man you really gotta take your hat off to him. I would be remiss, not to tell Kirk Morrison personally that were appreciative of Kirk and all of his efforts and what he has done for the community, and I think we’ve helped him get to a place where he can further his career.”
For all those out there who were calling for the Raiders to sign the recently released Jets Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, he delivered a bullet to any rumors, saying “We’re not opposed to anything, but I’m not sure at this point [Faneca] makes sense to us.”
I, for one, think the fans are excited about this team again thanks to this strong draft. I get the sense from just roaming around different blogs and articles that the whole country got a different vibe from this draft class. You could almost feel the collective “uh-oh” from ESPN analysts when the Raiders selected Rolando McClain at their #8 slot in the first round. Mel "Krapper" Jr kept up his negative spewing babble, saying, “The Raiders have reached before…they reach here again.”
WTF Krapper?…just shut up man.
The fans aren't the only ones interested again according to Cable, “The players are very interested, they’re excited about it. I’ve had a ton of texts today from the players about it.”
In other news, I was very interested when I found outa few of the moves the Raiders made in the signing of undrafted free agents; Cincinnati defensive end Alex Daniels, Tulane tailback Andre Anderson, and BYU fullback Manase Tonga. I’ve included links to articles about the two players you can read by clicking on their respective names.
--Bret Armstrong, TFDS Guest Contributor
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