Now that the Raiders have trimmed their roster down to 53 players and the season is less than a week away from kickoff, it’s time to give out some awards for the offseason. Granted, the roster is still not complete, but there will not likely be any drastic changes from here on out that will affect these offseason awards.
Best free agent move: WR Derek Hagan
Hagan was originally supposed to be a body for training camp, but Head Coach Hue Jackson later admitted that he had kept a close eye on Hagan since he was the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Coach Jackson said that Hagan was one of his favorite players in the draft class that year and he had been scouting him from afar, waiting for the opportunity to work with the young wide receiver. Kudos to Coach Jackson for making that transaction at the beginning of camp.
Worst free agent move: Losing CB Nnamdi Asomugha
Perhaps the Raiders never made him an offer, but that is extremely hard to believe. One thing that is certain is they paid Stanford Routt like he was the number one guy way back in March. Now they find themselves hurting for depth at the cornerback position and hoping another team will do something boneheaded like drop an outstanding cornerback from their roster. Odds are they didn’t need to pay Routt that much to stay and with the loss of TE Zach Miller, they probably could paid Nnamdi $12 million per year anyway.
Best new coaching hire: Offensive line guru Bob Wylie
The players have praised Wylie for his simplification of the learning process on the offensive line. Really, it’s not that hard: Line up and hit that guy in the mouth. But not only has Wylie simplified the system for the players, his first string unit was highly effective in blocking for the ground game as well as protecting the quarterback on pass plays.
Best release: OG Robert Gallery
Gallery was riddled with injuries during his last two seasons with the Raiders. The Seattle Seahawks are already getting a small dose of that as Gallery underwent an MRI on his knee following the game Friday night against the Raiders. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called the injury a sprain, but also said that it was “significant enough where we've got to be concerned.”
Worst release: CB Sterling Moore
Moore was one of the few highlights for the Raiders this preseason as an undrafted rookie from SMU. While the Raiders never showed what he could do against an opponent’s first string unit, he did manage to outplay drafted rookies Chimdi Chekwa and Demarcus Van Dyke when he got his time under the lights as well as on the practice field. Not only that, but he was healthy all camp and it outraged fans when he was released. Granted, he was signed to the practice squad, but it's dangerous to dangle him out there for another team to sign, like the Carolina Pantheers, who just signed former Raider safety Stevie Brown to their active roster.
Most improved player from 2010: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
It’s hard to sit here and say that DHB is going to carry over his preseason into the regular season, but it’s easy to say he looked much better this year than he did last year. Some suspect he is on the verge of a respectable season while others continue to think he is just going to keep being “Drops Hella Balls.” Time will tell, but he made himself look good by hauling in some tough catches in preseason games this year.
Biggest disappointment of preseason: CB Walter McFadden
Not only did he not improve at all from last season, but he ended up being cut from the team. McFadden was expected to show vast improvement over last season and compete for that third cornerback position in the nickel package. Instead he basically wasted a roster spot last year and was probably horrible enough to not even make the practice squad. This is a major disappointment considering his brother had been a longtime starter at the same position for the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Best rookie: WR Denarius Moore
Moore is going to get an opportunity to make plays for the team this year. From what he has shown in the preseason and training camp, he is definitely for real and really talented too. The least work he will get will be on punt returns and perhaps some kickoffs. The most work he could get is starting a few games because of injuries. In between that somewhere are some packages/plays designed with him in mind. Moore looks to be light-years ahead of where DHB was in his rookie season.
Worst rookie: OT Joseph Barksdale
Unimpressive, behind the curve, ineffective are just some of the terms we can use to describe this young man this preseason. While Stefen Wisniewski was busy trying to earn a starting gig at left guard after transitioning from center, Barksdale was busy trying to get out of his own way. Barksdale has the tools to do the job, it’s plain to see that, but if he winds up getting a starting gig this season it would be a huge surprise. He looks more like a sixth round pick than a third round pick at this point.
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Great awards, you guys do a real good job with the blog. I do think Satele was the best free agent move though. He keep young Wiz from starting at center, dropped Loper and solidified an OL with a lot of potential. Now all Wiz has to worry about is hitting the right guys. I think next year after offseason strength training, he's going to take a big leap into being a great LG. Same with Barksdale at RT who hasn't dominated, but looks to be ahead of M. Henderson at this point.. B. Campbell, Veldheer, and Wiz just need game time and to play physical every down. The thing about Hagan is, he fills the same role Chaz does so it limits each others time on the field. Especially with all the other WRs we have. I could see them both being on the field on third and long though. They have the ability to separate and make tough catches. I would say DVD has been the worst, but he's not that bad. He just needs to read the eyes of WRs and make plays on the ball. This team is loaded with young talent that just needs time to develop. If all the rest of the players play as fast and physical as T Branch, the Raiders will be the bullies Coach Jackson been looking to create. A few more years together, some more great drafts and this team will be fierce without a doubt. I can see us getting to the Super Bowl no later than 2014. But lets cut the suspense and get it this year. Go RAIDERS!!!
Yet another great piece. I'd love to hear your opinion on how Bruce Campbell has played, and how you see his skill set translating longterm to the NFL game.
Barksdale reminds me of Bruce Campbell in 2010.
As in, I can see his talent, and can see him being a good player, but he's not battle-hardened for the NFL yet. I think some of these rookie lineman get a big shocked when they realise how big, fast, and downright nasty these pro defensive linemen actually are.
Big step up from a college DE and a Pro DE if you ask me. In college running backs run a lot of stretch plays, and reverses, and counters. They don't really run those plays much in the NFL. Why? As the defensive linemen are too athletic. Guys like Julius Peppers are as athletic and as fast as most running backs.................
It's why Reggie Bush flopped. You can get away with running counters, and getting to the outside in college. Not the NFL. The linemen are nearly as fast as you in the pros.
You do get some sure fire tackles, in the nfl, who just step up and dominate. Jake Long as an example. But even the guys in the first 15 picks tend to struggle a lot of the time.
Campbell has made a big step up this year, and could conceivaly start games in 2011. I see the same for Barksdale. Although, I think he will step up later this season. A bit quicker. I suspect he will come into the team around week 7 or 8. Probably because of an injury, or just bad form from one of the starters
@ChristopherMooney Barksdale should have a better chance to establish himself at RT than on the left side, due to the blindside RDE usually being the best athlete on the defense.
A lot of popular opinion in NO is that Bush didn't get the carries needed to get into a rhythm. He averaged about 10 a game and with Brees throwing more often than not, that number was never likely to increase.
A reliable source (well a blogger), told me that Al Saunders was pretty shocked how low in confidence Heyward Bey was for a receiver (as in, your average receiver is typically the cockiest guy on the roster.....................). And decided that much of the problem was that he'd just been coached badly in his first few years.
Oakland basically think that he's much better, talent wise, than he plays. And they think that the best way to take him forward is to use him in short, to medium length pattern. As in, quick slants, hook routes, and 15-20 yard plays down the middle.
They think, basically, that the longer the balls in the air, the more he panics. And that he's actually pretty talented, hands wise, if he doesn't have time to think, and plays on instincts.
I've been told the plan is to not use him as a deep threat at the minute. He may well even play in the slot. They think they can develop him into that, but he's not ready at the minute.
I think Denarius Moore play has taken a lot of attention away from how well Wiz has picked up the Left Guard position - not that it is a bad thing. I do not think we will see any sort of drop off from Gallery to Wiz what so ever and can see Wiz being a lot more reliable as well!
Barksdale looked great at times and confused at others. Remember he is transitioning from LT to RT at the pro level, not an easy task. He looked at least as deserving of a 3rd round pick as wiz looked of a 2nd. Remember he was one of the lineman staying after to work with Steve after practice and a few of Taiwan's nice runs came behind the right side.
great piece agree with most of it . . but i have to say barksdale has been more impressive then DVD . .