Is Al Davis giving Tom Cable more input in this year’s draft?

Dallas Cowboys v Oakland Raiders
Could the selection of Rolando McClain be a sign that Al Davis has given Cable more authority on draft decisions?

Many pundits had the Raiders pegged for their first pick of the draft. It was obvious, much like it has been over the last decade, the Oakland Raiders were going to select the best height/weight/speed guy that was still on the board with the eighth pick of the NFL Draft. That’s why Darrius Heyward-Bey became a Raider last year and why JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden became Raiders as well.

And while the oft-criticized Raiders rarely prove those pundits wrong, this year they made them look foolish. While Rolando McClain has all of the tools to become one of the better linebackers in the league, he isn’t exactly the workout warrior that you would expect from a Raiders top pick — and that is a good thing for Raider Nation.

It’s also a possible sign that head coach Tom Cable has garnered enough confidence from owner Al Davis to get the opportunity to put his very own stamp on this team. While McClain may not be the typical Raiders top pick, he’s certainly a typical Cable pick. “I was looking for the same things we looked for last year and that was character,” said Cable of what he wanted from his first pick in the draft.

He continued that thought in his post-pick press conference by saying, “And guys who have had success and worked themselves into being the kind of player I think they can be. He’s done all those kinds of things. With this guy, probably one of his really unique qualities is the football IQ and his leadership. The ability to get others around him to come and enjoy studying the game like he did. I think that’s a real real big-time quality.

That’s the sort of player that Cable got last year from his later round picks. Players such as Matt Shaughnessy, Louis Murphy, and Brandon Myers were big hits for Cable in his first draft to go along with rookie free agent Desmond Bryant. Each of those players share the same description with the Raiders first selection in this year’s draft — ‘High motor’.

That attribute doesn’t put an end to the Raiders’ glitzy picks, but it will ensure that Oakland doesn’t pick guys based solely on what they could become in three years. That is the ‘Cable way’, which for now has become the ‘Raider way’.

What’s left for day 2?

The Raiders still have needs on the defensive line, a nickle corner, offensive line, running back, wide receiver, and quarterback, but not necessarily in that order. The biggest needs to be addressed would be along the offensive line, followed by the defensive line. Here are some of the players that the Raiders might look at on the second day of the draft.

QB

Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) – Has all the talent to become a good NFL quarterback, but the biggest knock on him is that he has leadership issues. Rumors have surfaced that Clausen wasn’t very popular in the Irish locker room.

Colt McCoy (Texas) – Only Tim Tebow has more college accomplishments than McCoy. The knock on McCoy is that he doesn’t have the upside teams would want from their starting quarterback.

Tony Pike (Cincinnati) – Pike was a big reason that Cincinnati was a powerhouse in 2009. He doesn’t have the physical tools to be a deep thrower, but is fairly accurate with good touch. The biggest question mark about Pike is his durability — he’s injured his non-throwing arm the past two seasons.

RB

Toby Gerhart (Stanford) – It would be surprising if this Heisman finalist was still hanging around when the Raiders make their second pick of the draft, but few would disagree that he would be a good pick for any team needing a halfback. Questions about Gerhart’s speed and running style leading to injury have put him in play for the second round — it certainly isn’t his production. *Quick note – speed shouldn’t be a concern for this guy as I’ve seen him outpace speedy defensive backs in college.

Dexter McCluster (Mississippi) – Very quick running back in and out of breaks, but his 5’8″ height and 172 pounds weight make him more of a third down back in the NFL. His diminutive size makes teams wonder if his body can hold up to the rigors of the NFL.

Joe McKnight (USC) – Very fast runner (4.47s 40-yard dash) who shared time with Staffon Johnson while at USC. More of a straight-line runner who runs upright, making him prone to injury in the NFL. Very underrated in this year’s draft.

WR

Arrelious Benn (Illinois) – At 6’1″ and 220 pounds, Benn has prototypical size for an NFL receiver and can work on special teams as a return man. The biggest issue surrounding Benn is his speed (4.59 40-yard dash) and ability to create separation from defenders.

Golden Tate (Notre Dame) – A burner for the position, clocking in at 4.42s in the 40-yard dash. His 5’10” height is smallish, but he also weighs in at nearly 200 pounds. Tate has a slow first step and because of that, he has to build to his elite speed, which makes it difficult for him to help in the vertical game.

Eric Decker (Minnesota) – Might be the most underrated receiver in the draft. At 6’3″ and 217 pounds, he still runs the 40-yard dash at a 4.56s clip. Decker has great hands and was Minnesota’s all-time leading receiver for his career. He is coming off of a foot injury from last season in which he had his final operation just a month ago.

OT

Charles Brown (USC) – Pac-10’s Morris Trophy winner which is awarded to the best offensive lineman voted by defensive line players in the conference — Alex Mack was the previous award winner. Originally a tight end, Brown still needs to work on his bulk and strength to become a solid tackle in the NFL.

Rodger Saffold (Indiana) – Started 41 games in college at left tackle. Has a mean streak in him, but doesn’t have the focus necessary in the NFL — can sometimes be lax in his play. At 6’4″, he’s a little shorter than the ideal offensive tackle and may need to improve his lower body strength.

Bruce Campbell (Maryland) – Was projected to be selected by the Raiders with their first pick. Workout warrior who’s game tape doesn’t match his combine performance. Has trouble with speed rushers due to poor footwork and there are question marks about his ability to get the playbook down.

OG

Jon Asamoah (Illinois) – Very durable lineman who is said to have the ‘ideal mentality’ for playing in the trenches. Not a height/weight/speed player and won’t turn heads without pads on, but has all of the intangibles necessary to become a solid NFL starter.

Vladimir Ducasse (UMASS) – At 6’4″ and 332 pounds, Ducasse is a huge man who is considered a ‘tweener’ of some sorts. He’s projected as a guard, but some believe that he could one day be an offensive tackle. He’s a project from Port Au Prince, Haiti who has only played five years of organized football.

John Jerry (Mississippi) – Jerry is better suited to the right side of the line, and brings SEC experience at both the right guard and right tackle positions. His brother is Atlanta’s 2009 first-round pick Peria Jerry. Not much of a mean streak, but plays more with technique than grit — even though his motor is not a question.

DT

Lamarr Houston (Texas) – Another Big 12 defensive tackle who also has been good off the field in college — three-time member of UT Athletic Director’s honor roll. Inconsistent in shedding blocks and has a tendency to jump the snap count.

Brian Price (UCLA) – Very durable player who wins most battles by beating his competition to the point of attack. Price needs to improve his lower body strength and endurance in order to stay on the field longer.

Terrence Cody (Alabama) – Big name player with Alabama who has great strength for a defensive tackle and the proper hitting mentality for defense. He doesn’t have the great first step off the snap and there are questions about his endurance.

DE

Everson Griffen (USC) – Great speed rusher with good power for an end who has experience in both the 3-4 linebacker and a 4-3 end — fits Raiders scheme. The biggest concern is that he sometimes takes plays off and doesn’t have the type of instincts necessary to become a great defensive end in the NFL.

Carlos Dunlap (Florida) – Has the prototypical height (6’6″) and weight (277 pounds) for the defensive end position in the NFL. He doesn’t have the elite range for a defensive end, but has long arms and a good burst off the line to make plays in the backfield.

Corey Wooten (Northwestern) – A grinder who makes the most of his physical talents to get the job done. Has durability concerns after suffering a neck injury in 2005 and a season-ending ACL tear in the Alamo Bowl this last season.

CB

Chris Cook (Virginia) – At 6’2″, he has rare size for a corner and runs the 40-yard dash at 4.46s. Not very durable in college, missing time to a broken leg in 2005, sprained knee in 2007, and a pulled groin last season.

Jerome Murphy (USF) – Has great fluidity and good height (6’0″) for the corner position. Doesn’t have the speed (4.58s 40-yard dash) you’d like at the corner position and lacks ideal footwork for the next level.

Amari Spievey (Iowa) – Very durable corner back that has ideal height (5’11”) and good instincts for the position. His 4.52s 40-yard dash isn’t as ideal, but adequate for a nickle corner. Needs to work on his footwork at the next level.

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