Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New look Raiders or same old story? Part One

By Rick Richardson - Self proclaimed Raider expert

As any Raider fanatic with a few years (decades) under his belt, I find myself contemplating the recent past and the not so distant future. Analyzing recent moves and comparing them with those of the past while trying to gage the state of the Raiders as an economist would try to look at today’s rough and tumble economy. Hopefully using trends of the past I can see some glimmer of hope in my proverbial crystal ball. Are the Raiders going to pull themselves out of this quagmire, or are they headed deeper into a recession, or for many of us long suffering fans an outright depression.

In the next coming weeks leading up to the draft I will attempt to get a read on where the Raiders are heading by using trends past and present to see if Al has this ship righting itself, or just taking on more water. If you are a Raider historian many of these moves are eerily familiar, and a basic prediction of success or failure of these moves can be assumed by looking at results from the past. So let’s take a look at the most recent Raider developments.

- Tommy Kelly signing makes everyone in and out of Raider land jump to their feet like an out of control courtroom at a murder trial. After the judge gets order back in the courtroom we find out the Raiders sentence. Seven years and $50.5million with $18.125 guaranteed. At first glance the league scoffers are right. That is crazy money for an undrafted and virtually unknown player outside of Oakland. But before you sign the petition for Al Davis’s committal, take a walk in his shoes.

In Kelly you have a young 6-6 300 pound defensive tackle that is very athletic and has great upside. Enough upside that arch rival Denver among others was ready to pounce at 12:01 Friday morning. Denver “might” not have broken the bank, but they have shown the propensity to overpay for arguably lesser talented defensive linemen in the past e.g. Daryl Gardner, Courtney Brown and Sam Adams. Using recent history one only has to look at Rod Coleman to see one that got away. Not anxious to repeat that mistake, I am sure Al took a look around the league and saw a gamble in Kelly that he was willing to take. The contract is back loaded to lessen some of the risk. Besides Kelly has the ringing endorsement of Warren Sapp and the versatility to play tackle or end.

So what does the crystal ball say? Al probably has decided that developing defensive tackles takes too long, and in Kelly he has an experienced player that stacks up pretty well with the top two defensive tackles in the draft. Both Sedrick Ellis and Glenn Dorsey have their drawbacks. Both Ellis and Dorsey are on short side at just over 6 foot, and Dorsey has health concerns regarding stress fractures. Neither are imposing and could face difficulty at the point of attack at the next level. Kelly will earn his keep in a break out year, and we will be glad he isn’t having said breakout year with a certain division rival. The crystal ball also says we won’t be taking a defensive tackle with the fourth overall pick. Who will we be taking? I’ll have that in the upcoming installments.


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