Pass the Kool-Aid

Nearly a month has passed since the Raiders shocked their entire fan base and drafted Kolton Miller 15th overall and Brandon Parker 65th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Several members of the media, however, were not surprised.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeted out on April 20th that Miller was potentially a “top target” for the Raiders in Round 1. Evan Silva and Josh Norris of Rotoworld both had the Raiders taking Miller 10th overall in their final mock drafts.

The reason they were convinced Miller would end up in Oakland? Offensive line coach Tom Cable and his influence on Jon Gruden.

“Apparently, Tom Cable, their new offensive line coach, loves [Miller],” Silva said. “Jon Gruden has been listening to his assistants early in the offseason. [He] allowed Rich Bisaccia to overhaul his special teams’
room. So he’s trusting these guys that have been in the NFL while he was away.”

Let’s talk about Tom Cable for a minute,

Cable coached for the Raiders before from 2007-2010. Cable joined the Oakland Raiders as offensive line coach for the 2007 season, under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin. Four games into the 2008 season with the team’s record at 1-3, Kiffin was fired by owner Al Davis and Cable was named the interim head coach.

The Raiders finished the 2008 season with a 4-8 record under Cable, but improved statistically in many categories.

Tom Cable inherited players like Barry Sims and former Davis draft picks Robert Gallery, Jake Grove and Paul McQuistan. Cable was known for banging on the table on draft days asking the owner to get him a
“Cadillac”, but instead what Cable got in Round 3 of 2007 was Mario Henderson.

As Head Coach in 2010, Davis drafted Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell in the 3rd and 4th rounds. During Cable’s tenure, Davis never truly splurged on the offensive line. Whether it was because he missed on Gallery or there were bigger needs elsewhere, we’ll never know.

Free agents signed during Cable’s time here were Jeremy Newberry, Cooper Carlisle, Cornell Green, Erik Pears, Khalif Barnes, Samson Satele and Langston Walker (2009, re-signed from Bills). All Cable did with those cruddy rosters was create a Top 10 rushing attack in 2007 and 2008.

Why does Cable have more influence now under Gruden, than he did under Al Davis? Did he threaten to give Gruden the Randy Hanson (2009) treatment?

I like Cable because I spent a lot of time studying Seattle. I spent time up at their training camp. I know what he is on the field. This guy’s a good line coach, and a really good coach.

Gruden told ESPN’s Brady Henderson “All you have to do is watch the beginning of practice and watch him when he has some individual time with his group. They were a really good unit in Seattle for a couple of years…really good.

They lost all of their players. But I think he:s an excellent coach. He”s diverse. He can run the ball a lot of different ways. He’s good in pass  protection. He’s a great teacher and he has a passion for the game —
and he’s been a Raid-ah. So I think it’s pretty cool to have him back.

Could Tom Cable be back to help Marshawn Lynch return to form?

Cable worked with Lynch in Seattle from 2011-2015. Cable also brought in Breno Giacomini to replace Marshall Newhouse at Right Tackle.
Giacomini worked with Lynch in Seattle from 2010-2013.

Earlier this offseason, Lynch restructured his deal to save the Raiders 500k against the salary cap, a few days before his $1 million roster bonus was
due. Lynch was set to make $5.5 million base salary, with no guaranteed money. He’s now guaranteed $4.5 million and can earn up to $9.25 million in incentives.

In his first stint with Oakland, Cable had the veteran Tony Stewart and Davis draft picks Zach Miller (Round 2, 2007) and Brandon Myers (Round 6, 2009). The trio were effective run blockers and adequate pass catchers.

Fast forward to the current roster and Gruden has Jared Cook starting at tight end with Lee Smith re-signed and Derek Carrier added in free agency.

Jon Gruden recently mentioned using five running backs and multiple tight ends, like the Eagles do. If that holds true, the roster spots of Doug Martin, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard might all be safe behind Lynch.

Keith Smith was added from Dallas, to start at fullback replacing Jamize Olawale (A former WR and TE). Smith is a punishing blocker who also excels on special teams.

Back to the offensive line.

Let’s start putting all of the puzzle pieces together. Who did we have at tackle before the draft? Vadal Alexander played in 15 games with 4 starts last year. He was inactive Week 17 with a concussion and is suspended the first 4 games of 2018 for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Pro Football Focus (PFF) says that a grade of 80 is considered “above average”.

Marshall Newhouse was released and had a grade of 46.4. Believe it or not, Vadal graded out even worse at 46.2! David Sharpe played in 5 games last year, starting the final two of the season. In Week 16 against the Eagles he held up surprisingly well and only allowed 1 sack. However, in Week 17 against the Chargers he got abused and surrendered 2 sacks and 4 pressures.

Jylan Ware finally made his debut in the season finale and only played 2 snaps, both on special teams. Denver Kirkland was placed on Injured Reserve on September 5 th after sustaining a leg injury in the first
preseason game against the Cardinals. Have I convinced you that we had a hole at RT, yet?

We all know about the 3 studs in the middle with Osemele, Hudson and Jackson. Are we in good shape at LT?

Donald Penn is 35 years old and he was placed on Injured Reserve on December 22nd . He’s recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery and he’s expected to miss all of the offseason OTA’s and minicamps in May and June.

Best case scenario is he makes it back by training camp in late July, but realistically the target date is Week 1 of the regular season (September 6th ). Penn doesn’t seem to be helping himself this offseason, as he’s being investigated for domestic violence which we’re told is a “verbal disagreement” between two people in the middle of a divorce. Still, one would think you could disagree with a spouse without grabbing wrist, slapping butt or pouring a drink on her head!

Penn tweeted out MORE MOTIVATION after the Raiders selected Miller 15th overall and then later deleted his tweet. Ultimately, it could come down to
Kolton’s play in Penn’s absence. It could also come down to Penn’s salary, as he currently holds a $8.38 million cap number, with only $3 million guaranteed.

Who is Kolton Miller?

Click here to read his scouting report, courtesy of SNBP.

Miller started all 13 games at LT for UCLA, protecting QB Josh Rosen who was selected 10th overall in the same draft class. The Bruins saw an improvement in their rushing game with Miller on the field, and he
earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors for his work on the blind side. He impressed at the combine, including setting a record for OL with his broad jump. The draft grades weren’t all negative for Miller.

Let’s see what 3 analysts from CBS had to say about him:

Jamey Eisenberg: The Raiders added what could be the best offensive tackle in this draft with Miller, and he could help the team right away with Donald Penn (foot) hurt. The main thing Fantasy owners need from Miller is to help Derek Carr not get hit, and hopefully Carr will rebound in 2018 under new coach Jon Gruden.

Chris Trapasso: Tall, active left tackle prospect exuding athleticism. Polished pass-blocker who plays with balance and uses his long limbs well. Flashes a nasty streak in the run game, as he typically blocks through the whistle. Smaller defenders give him some problems at times.

Pete Prisco: I think he’s the best tackle in the draft, but they have so many defensive needs.

Where does he fit?

“We like him at left tackle”; Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Miller, via“We think he’s a prototype left tackle. He can bend, he’s got the length that you’re looking for and he’s a sharp kid…that doesn’t mean that’s where they’re going to end up, though.”

Brandon Parker was selected in the 3 rd round and his selection proves that addressing the offensive line was a priority.

Who is Brandon Parker?

Click here to read his scouting report, courtesy of SNBP.

Parker is an engineering major and he was only flagged for four penalties in his collegiate career. Parker’s father was an All-ACC offensive lineman for the University of North Carolina (Tar heels) and his dad is also a high school coach. Needless to say, don’t expect many mental mistakes with him.

Parker towers at 6-foot-7 and 309 pounds and anchored the offensive line for an undefeated Aggies team. Parker played LT for North Carolina A&T, but he will start camp working at right tackle. I’m here to work,” Parker said. “I’m here to make the team better and get us some wins. Any way I can help the team, I’m willing to do it.”

What say you, coach?

“He’s another tackle and a great kid who really impressed us with his movement skills at the combine and again at the Senior Bowl. Brandon and (first-round pick Kolton Miller) have great mentors in Donald Penn and Breno Giacomini. There’s a great opportunity to succeed.”

We’ve got two really outstanding, young, massive offensive tackles that can pull, that can pass protect, that continue to get better that will fight, that will take us to another level with execution.

In another interview Gruden summed it up by saying: “They’re young players. Obviously, Brandon hasn’t seen the high level of competition that he’s going to see when he comes here. Kolton Miller is an underclassman. So, we have a maturation that has to take place. I think we have one of the best line coaches in football. Look, I’ve gone around this league as a
broadcaster. You cannot call plays without offensive tackles. You can’t do it. And we need depth and we’ve got to be better on the edge.”

Without help at the tackle position, Derek Carr won’t be able to get the passing game going and Marshawn Lynch won’t be able to get the running game going.

Hopefully this helps paint the picture of how desperate we were, both at LT and RT, with a thin tackle class in the draft and deep position groups elsewhere. Like Gruden says, solid tackles never make it to free agency. You have to find them in the draft and we accomplished that. Only time will tell if these guys pan out and become key pieces to the puzzle or if we reached and went need over best player available.

Would Tremaine Edmunds or Derwin James (sitting there at 15th overall) have completely transformed the defense? Is Parker going to make a
better pro than other tackles such as Orlando Brown or Alex Cappa (available 65 th overall)? We’ll see, but Tom Cable finally got himself a pair of Cadillacs.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll be cruising to the
Super Bowl in style soon enough. Go Raiders!!

Written by: Podunk Raider (RRS)