Friday, May 8, 2009

Being Talked into It

It has taken some time to recover from the first day of the draft, and that has nothing to do with this. Possibly the nicest part of the Raiders' sensible offseason had been the lack of negative attention from the media. Poof.

I was also personally disappointed that I had both guessed wrong and argued wrong, not that I expected any different. But in that argument I suggested that the Raiders might change their ways and trade down. I'm now convinced that their reaches, despite being highly stereotypical, in fact do signify a change in their ways. I argued that the Raiders had not reached with any of their top ten picks in recent years. Huff? Not a reach. Gallery? Not a reach. JaMarcus? McFadden? Randy Moss? Not reaches.

Yet the Raiders have been burned. So this year it was pundits be damned, we will target guys we want. Heyward-Bey should go at #25? Too bad, we don't have the 25th pick, we have the 7th.

So I've talked myself into it. We won't know the results for several years. But the real shift going on with the Raiders is beginning to show after the first day of minicamp. Cable is assembling a team of character guys. Hard workers. Phil Barber calls DHB, "Funny, down-to-earth, honest and confident without coming off as cocky." As Dave, a coworker and loyal CLOAK reader pointed out today, one would be more apt to describe the pick we were supposed to make, Michael Crabtree, as a "diva." (Great DHB quote from Barber, by the way...)

The best surprise of the day was the arrival of Fresno State Bulldog Lorenzo Neal, one of the great lead blockers in NFL history and clearly a leader figure for Cable's new look team. Jerry captures a great quote here, including this:
"It’s not just what you bring on the field but what you bring off the field, the intangibles and say, ‘Hey, look, guys, I’m going to be here on Tuesday watching film on my off day.’ It’s getting in the weight room working out, showing the guys, this is what has allowed me to play 17 years."
See for yourself. Neal's passion is tangible starting at about 1:28 of this clip from NBC Bay Area. Before they get to him, though, there are sound bites from DHB and Mike Mitchell - and of course Nnamdi - all of which have me convinced. It's still been a very good offseason.

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