Cable calls draft a success

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Cable met with the press following one of the most criticized drafts in the NFL.  Cable seemed unfazed by the harsh criticism that has been levied on the Raiders and the players that they drafted.

The biggest criticism has been levied on the first pick of the draft when the Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey over two-time Biletnikoff winner, Michael Crabtree.  Every television pundit and draft expert has been talking about the pick as the biggest mistake in the draft.

Former wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Chris Carter exclaimed over and over, “Honorable mention!”  This was in reference to Heyward-Bey only being an honorable mention for the All-ACC team.

Another criticism the Raiders have received is their drafting of Mike Mitchell from Ohio University in the second round.  After reports surfaced that the Bears had planned on taking him two picks later in the draft, Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper lessened their criticism, with Mayock offering an apology.  Even so, many are still believing that Mitchell shouldn’t have been drafted with a second round pick.

The following is a transcript of the Cable press conference at the conclusion of the draft.

OPENING STATEMENT

Just to talk a little bit about Day 2. It started with Matt Shaughnessy, defensive end from Wisconsin, needed a guy that gives us something like Trevor Scott. That type of guy with a little more size and we feel good about that. Louis Murphy we thought would’ve been gone by then. The first question you probably ask me is ‘he played in a spread system.’ Yes, he did, but he was always an outside receiver. He is more apt to making that transition to the pro system. Slade Norris has been a linebacker and played rush end the last two years at Oregon State. We’ll stand him up and have him play linebacker. Stryker Sulak was another end who was also a linebacker in their system. So, depending on the opponent he’d be an inside linebacker or put his hand on the ground and be a defensive end as a pass rusher. Again, we’ll stand him up to start at the linebacker spot. The last one was a guy I thought we really had to have. This was the last piece to the four I talked about earlier in the year. We needed a tight end that had some physicality to him so we could take that away from Zach Miller and use him more as a receiver. Overall, like every coach says, very pleased with what we did, who we got and what we’re bringing in here.

Q: Was it (Brandon) Myers that you wanted or was it the position?

It was Myers. There was two guys on there, [Bear] Pascoe and Myers, Pascoe went just before. Either way, we were going to go with whoever fell to us.

Q: Shaugnessy, you mentioned Trevor Scott, reading his bio we thought of Jay Richardson a little bit. You got some bodies on the D-line, does he stand out in any way?

You look at a guy who has 48 starts at Wisconsin. He played on a number of successful teams. A little bit more size than Trevor, but not as big as Jay so somewhere in between there. I like the motor. I like what I got out of him. You look at the East-West game he really was productive and the all-star game. Just his numbers and playing that much in that league at that school is pretty good accomplishment.

Q: One position with not much depth was at offensive guard, you didn’t draft any O-linemen. Was there a reason for that?

As I mentioned, we went in talking about the O-line for a purpose really because we had talked about Khalif Barnes at T and Erik Pears at tackle and then obviously the trade, which was huge, and the value of that 6th pick today. That’s a tremendous get for us. Getting Samson (Satele), getting us the depth there, we’re in really good shape. The depth at guard with Cooper (Carlisle), Robert (Gallery), Paul (McQuistan) would be the third guy in there and we got some other guys we put in there. Mark Wilson would be a guy, who’s cleared now and has come back from the ankle fracture.

Q: Was the 2nd WR, were you planning on taking another one or could you not pass him up?

Could not pass him up.

Q: When you look at that group you bring into camp, do you have that mentor/veteran guy?

I think that’s a good point. Javon (Walker) would clearly be the veteran in that group. What we did is that we raised the bar at that position, dramatically. Now we got great competition. Can we overcome some of that youthfulness? Probably not, but that’s the least of our worries in terms of getting more production and better players there.

Q: Looking at penalties being a big problem for the team, a guy like Sulak is known to be a full-bore guy. Is that a concern for you?

Not at all. The Raiders need that again. We need more of that. With some discipline as well, but we need that attitude.

Q: Would you look at existing veteran free-agent wide receivers?

You know, I think at this point probably not, because I like the group now. Very satisfied. Did not think Murphy would be there. Had Murphy not been there, that was definitely an option. But now you’ve created, again, another talented guy that can really run. Probably don’t need to do it yet.

Q: When looking at guys that have been down and then up, what challenges do they face being strictly stand-up guys?

You see more and more of that out of 4-3 teams. That SAM or WILL linebacker that are putting their hand on the ground. We actually did a study, there are a ton of guys making that transition from stand-up on first and second down to putting their hand down on third. That’s all over the league now and even good pass rushers are like that.

Q: Some of the bios we read, the defensive ends you drafted are pass rush guys. Have you done enough to defend the run just by getting (Michael) Mitchell and did you feel it was important to get more pass rushers?

We did. The run game is addressed a couple ways. I think that we got to coach better and clean up some things that we’re doing system-wise and I think we’ve addressed that with the coaching staff. We got to get better at the linebacker spot and when I say better I mean more depth there. Look what happens when we lose a guy and got to piece it together. This gives us the ability to not have to do that. Mitchell has definitely upgraded that. If you’ve taken an opportunity to look at his film and see what he is physically, we feel a lot better about it. We got some good tackles on this team and they got to play like it.

Q: Looking at the five guys you got today, which do you see as immediate contributors on special teams?

All five guys we drafted today, that was part of the thought. That’s a great question. That was part of my belief in what is their special teams value. You get on the phone with a Louis Murphy and tell him he’s going to be an Oakland Raider and the first thing out of his mouth is “what’s the strength coach’s number?” and “can I get on special teams?” – that’s a great thing and we knew that about him. They all have that characteristic in them so it plays a big role.

Q: How would you say your plan worked out? As well as you hoped, better?

It did, you know the one thing we have to do is get about three four key players in free agency and we’ve actually started on that already. So when we get done from here I’ll go get going on that. But that’s really a key thing for us. I still think we need to find a fullback and maybe another tight end, defensive tackle, those things jump out at me right away so in terms of addressing that in the draft, in some ways we did, other than the fullback and the defensive tackle thing, but those weren’t priority draft things. They were there if we could do it late if the right guy was there, if no then we go to priority free agents.

Q: So those weren’t part of the four things you need?

The defensive end definitely was, the receivers were as you knew, the safety was and the tight end. Those were really the keys so we got that done.

Q: It seems like a lot of these guys are real high character reputations, are hard workers, as you pointed out. How explicit was that as you and your scouts were talking about prospects?

If you remember back to Week 10, or maybe it was Week 9 I think. I made a statement to the media after having a team meeting with just the team and I, the players and I, no coaches, no one else in here and we talked about that issue. If you want to start winning, if you want to change things around here then the B.S has got to stop and you’ve got to start living it, playing with honor and that means doing things right with discipline and being selfless. And I thought we really took to that the last weeks and I see it in the off-season program, so that’s who I am. I don’t want to do it and have a bunch of craziness. At the same time, men are men, boys are boys and they do their things and all that but I didn’t want to bring someone in here who I thought was going to be crazy, that couldn’t fit , that it was about him. He had to be about the team, he had to ask me on the phone after we had picked him if he can play on special teams. Those kinds of things were really important to me.

Q: Did you mean you’re going to bring in undrafted free agents or veteran free agents?

It could be both, absolutely. It could be both.

Q: What position is Marcus Johnson going to play?

Offensive lineman. He’s playing guard.

Q: I’m sure you are aware that people have hit you guys pretty hard, especially about your first day draft. How much does that bother you when you feel like you are doing what’s best for your team?

Well, the first thing you have to know about me is that I don’t need to stand up and beat my chest and say “the hell with everyone.” I’m going to take a statement from Bill Walsh, “When you find a player that you want, go get him. Don’t worry about it. Go get him.” And that’s what I did.  And I’ll take the heat for that. We’ve since had people coming back apologizing and turning on film and saying “Oh my God, this guy was going to Chicago,” and they admitted that they were going to take him at 49. I kind of lived that statement from coach Walsh. When you find the one you want, go get him. Don’t let anyone distract you. Don’t worry about what they say.

Q: Murphy played on a national championship team, some of the thing he talked about not being in the spot light. He and Percy [Harvin] and Tim [Tebow] on the same team. When you talked to him, did he seem like a guy who would bring that winning attitude with him?

It’s a huge point.  When you look at everyone of these kids, Heyward-Bey kind of up and down but enough to say that they had a winning record in college, Mike Mitchell won, Shaughnessy won. Mike Mitchell is part of turning around a program that used to be very poor. Shaughnessy won a lot of games. Louis Murphy who we were talking about directly here has won two national championships, not only did he feel like he didn’t have to be the guy but he’s also the team captain.  Stryker Sulak, Missouri…that speaks for itself what they have been doing lately. And then you look at Brandon Meyers. Iowa has been consistently there. They had a couple years prior to this year that they were a little up and down. But all of these kids are winners. All of them come with leadership, not all of them but a number of them have been captains.

Q: Did you have any interest or talks regarding Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards?

We did not.

Q: A lot of people look at the draft and say it’s a classic Al Davis, size and speed, height and weight draft. Are those also Tom Cable picks? What can you tell us about how it worked up there?

We had a plan early that we would go out and target the first couple of rounds separately and come together and see where we were at. The thing was that we had the one that we wanted in the first and that was Darrius without question. And in two, we both had the same two guys. It was the same position, we knew what they were and knew what we wanted to do. So when they both hit it was really kind of unique because we had agreed that that was where we were at. We were very much together in it and the rest just kind of took care of itself. But I think when you look at the draft and the characteristics of the players, athletically, size, speed and all that….sure those are Oakland Raider and Al Davis numbers and all that. At the same time, the other things that go with it, my name is right there with it.

Q: When you look at the players you drafted, I see a lot of similarities with guys you already have. Mitchell reminds me a little of Tyvon, who’s a hitter and real fast. Do you see those similarities?

Yeah, I think one of the things that sold me on Mike was the fact that I love Tyvon. I watched him play before he got hurt last year, being a gunner on special teams and his play on defense, and I said I want to have another one like that. I like that so much I want another one. He got hurt and we missed it. So now I think you made yourself better. If you have two guys like Tyvon, again, you’ve done nothing but get better. Having been around that last year, I really gained a fondness for what he’s capable of and what he brings to the table. The great thing about Tyvon is his attitude and how he plays and how he works on the field and in the weight room. He challenges people in a respectful way. It’s really good.

Q: How about others? Does Murphy look like anybody, maybe Chaz?

They’re similar really because you’re talking about big guys that can run. So yeah, again, does height, weight and speed fit the Raider thing? Absolutely. Does this guy, with all these things kind of add up? Yeah, maybe there is a comparison.

Q: How did things go there up in the room? All the interaction and stuff, was it different than in years past as far as you’re concerned?

There were some times…the trade with New England to get where we wanted to be. We wanted to position ourselves. We held on to that second four, got a pick out of it. Carolina willing to deal with us at the end. Those are kind of tense moments leading up to it. Especially on day two because your time is shorter on the clock, but I dig that stuff. I think it’s cool. I liked it. There was a plan A and plan B whichever way it would go and we were fortunate people worked with us so it was good.

Q: How did you go about it? Did you model after any coach you’ve worked with in the past?

We do things here in a certain way. I think there’s a lot of fact to that. Whatever you want to call it, the Al Davis way, the Oakland Raider way, whatever it is it’s our way. One of the things I learned being here two years prior is the more due diligence as an assistant coaching staff. The more you get every “i” dotted and “t” crossed, and you find and you look the smoother it is through the process. That’s what we did. I thought the staff did a great job. I thought the scouts….we were on with them and they were on with us. That’s what really got me excited is we really connected this year. We had a plan and we stuck to the plan and got who we needed to get.

Q: Was it the least contentious draft since you got here?

Aw come on now, we had fun today and yesterday, that’s the way drafts are supposed to be. There’s heated moments, you’re competing against 31 other teams to make your team better so I’m not going to go there. It’s what it’s supposed to be David.

Q: What do you see [defensive coordinator] John Marshall being able to bring to the defense especially with the young players that you just drafted?

There’s two things I mentioned when I hired him and the reason I hired those guys on defense is, one they’ve been a part of building something on defense like you just mentioned. They’ve been a part of playing in and coaching and winning Super Bowls. They’ve also lost Super Bowls but they’ve been to the top of the mountain. I just felt like the experience of all of that is what this football team needs. We’ve got some good players. Do we need more? Always. That’s what we’ve been doing the last two days. But, they have to put them in the right place, teach them how to do it the right way, and get the hell out of way and let them play. That’s really what my plan was and it’s coming together as I see it.

Q: How much different is the passing game with so many young guys is going to be?

I think it’s going to be night and day. Does that mean I think we’re going to be top-20 or top-15 or what I’m hoping for or that we will win? I’m not sure. But I look at it now and I see that we can attack you all over the field now. We have guys that catch and make a play somewhere. They can beat you in press coverage, they can get on top and run away. So I look at that and I just feel like with Johnnie and Chaz and the improvement those guys made at the end of last year and you add these two new guys in see if we can get Javon Walker healthy. Find out about Arman Shields. What does he bring to the table? You start looking at it and say you know what, we’ve raised the bar. We now have a group at that position to go out and compete. We’re going to have some pretty hot competition at that spot.

All right, thank you.

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