Re-visiting the Oakland Raiders class of 2008

Re-visiting the Oakland Raiders class of 2008

Raiders

Re-visiting the Oakland Raiders class of 2008

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NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders

After a semi-successful draft in the 2007 season that produced TE Zach Miller, WR/KR Johnnie Lee Higgins, HB Michael Bush, LT Mario Henderson, and DE Jay Richardson, the Raiders looked to an older theory in the 2008 season. The thought this year was to bring in that big name player who could help turn the team around immediately. Looking back, hind sight is 20/20. The signing of former Giants safety Gibril Wilson came in February, Javon Walker was signed to a huge contract on March 5th, and Kwame Harris—the 49ers bust tackle—was brought in soon after Walker.

March 20th, the Raiders acquired CB DeAngelo Hall in a trade with Atlanta with the hope that he could be a shut-down cornerback next to Nnamdi Asomugha; it didn’t work, Hall was cut halfway thru the year. Hall showed no signs of being able to compete in the high percentage of man-to-man schemes the Raiders used on defense after earning Pro Bowl spots in ’05 and ’06 in a zone defensive scheme.

Other notable signings for Oakland included DE Kalimba Edwards and C John Wade. They released Dominic Rhodes after just one year, traded CB Fabian Washington to the Baltimore Ravens, released FS Stuart Schweigert, HB Lamont Jordan, LB Grant Irons,and DE Greg Spires. S Jarrod Cooper retired.

Just prior to the season, WR Ashley Lelie was signed and added to an overhauled receiving core that now included Javon Walker, Drew Carter, and rookie seventh round draft choice, Chaz Schilens.

During the draft, the Raiders brought in some more talented young guys despite the fact that they did not have a second or third round choice:

2008

1

4(4)

Darren McFadden

RB

Arkansas

Distinctions

Heisman Finalist: 2006 (2nd), 2007 (2nd)

2008

4

1(100)

Tyvon Branch

CB

Connecticut

Pick Note

From Dolphins through Cowboys

2008

4

26(125)

Arman Shields

WR

Richmond

Pick Note

From Jaguars through Ravens

2008

6

3(169)

Trevor Scott

DE

Buffalo

2008

7

19(226)

Chaz Schilens

WR

San Diego State

Pick Note

From Vikings through Jets

Darren McFadden provided what the Raiders thought would be a missing link in the ground game that was a bit crowded with Lamont Jordan (who was released on July 25th), 1,000 yard rusher Justin Fargas, and 2007 rookie Michael Bush. So far in his young career, McFadden has proven to be injury prone, and fumble prone; earning himself the nickname, “McFumbles”. Darren has been more worthy as an outside threat and a wide receiver in the slot than he has between the tackles as an every down NFL halfback. Some are calling for a trade while he still seems valuable, while others want to see him develop for another year under the direction of new-comer offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.


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Tyvon Branch has quickly made his presence known in the Raiders line-up. Despite missing half of the 2008 season on IR, Branch came out in 2009 and had one of the best seasons by any Raiders safety in recent memory. He was so good, he made Michael Huff look good next to him. Branch is also known as the player who makes the highest connection with fans. He is constantly doing chats with blog-sites and answering questions from the fans. In addition, he managed to rack up 124 tackles (10th in the NFL), a sack, eight passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Fans are eager to see him play in 2010.


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Trevor Scott has become known as the sack master of the Raiders defense. In his two years of play, he has accounted for 12 sacks in a Silver and Black uniform. While Scott was never deemed to be a full time defensive end, he has recently worked his way into the starting line-up for Oakland at the weak side LB position. After converting to LB in the Raiders 4-3, Scott had a two sack game against the Dallas Cowboys and followed that up with consecutive one sack games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. Over the final six games of the year, he had two games with five tackles, in addition to two games with six tackles. He has made himself quite a name in Oakland.

Chaz Schilens is widely considered to be the best WR currently on the Oakland roster. His injuries, however, tend to get the best of him and prevent him from becoming that hard-to-stop player that Raider Nation believes he can be. A broken foot left him out of the first half of the 2009 season for Oakland, but over the final 8 games of the year, he did manage 29 catches and two touchdowns, finishing the year with an eight catch, 99 yard performance against a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense. Schilens has shown in flashes that he can be a great WR with good ball instincts and the ability to go up and get the ball away from defenders. If he can stay healthy in 2010, he should be a guy to keep an eye on.


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Some bad things happened in 2008, like the huge contract of Javon Walker—who was injured most of the season— and the mid-season dismissal of “Me”Angelo Hall. Head Coach Lane Kiffin used up his get out of jail free cards with the organization. After trying to get rid of Rob Ryan and bring in his father, Monte Kiffin, to coach the defense, coming into his office in January and discovering there was a letter of resignation sitting on his desk waiting to be signed, and after apparently quitting on the team in Buffalo, Kiffin was officially dismissed (or fired for cause) just four games into the 2008 schedule. Kwame Harris did not work out and would end up being cut prior to the 2009 season after charges came about of him beating up his partner.

But some good things happened in 2008 also. That was the beginning of the Tom Cable era in Oakland. The rookie class added another compliment to the talented 2007 rookie class. The team won back to back games to end the year and took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs. As sweet as it was to take the Bucs out of the playoffs, it was even sweeter that they were able to come full circle and cause the firing of former Head Coach Jon Gruden. JaMarcus Russell was strong in the final six games of the year in which the Raiders won three of those games. At the end of 2008, Raider Nation began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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