Gutierrez: Raiders 2010 Review -- Offensive Line

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Gutierrez: Raiders 2010 Review -- Offensive Line

Jan. 25, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com
They arethe no-name grunts, the guys who get noticed when something goesterribly, horribly wrong. Such is life for an offensive lineman allguts, very little, if any, glory.For the Raiders this past season, their offensive line was theirultimate mood ring. And why not? With deposed coach Tom Cable anoffensive line guru at heart, the O-line more often than not was a goodindicator of the teams fortunes.The line was porous and woeful at times see the pitiful season openerat Tennessee yet dominant and special at others see therecord-setting victory at Denver. It gave up 44 sacks, tied forsixth-most in the league, yet paved the way for the No. 2-rankedrushing offense in the NFL. Just about right for an 8-8 team, right?A look, then, at Oaklands offensive line as we begin our player-by-player analysis of the 2010 RaidersJared Veldheer the surprise third-round draft pick out of tinyDivision-II Hillsdale College paid immediate dividends. The rookie hadhis baptism by fire starting at center in the season opener atTennessee then moved back out to his natural left tackle, taking overfor good in Week 7. He has made numerous all-rookie teams and through14 games he had allowed six sacks while committing six false starts andbeing called for holding four times.RELATED: Raiders stats
Robert Gallery The Raiders once-left tackle of the futurefound a home at left guard and was rounding into Pro Bowl shape in2008. Then injuries struck in 2009, a broken fibula derailing hisascent, and again this past season. A strained hamstring cost him fourof the Raiders first five games. A potential unrestricted free agentand big fan of Cable, Gallery may have played his last game in Oakland.Samson Satele Replaced by a rookie in Veldheer to start theseason, Satele seemingly had his confidence shaken and his tough-loverelationship with Cable seemed to wear thin. He started the last 15games at center and found his groove the last quarter of the season.How will Cables dismissal affect Satele, who fits better in azone-blocking scheme than a power-run game favored by Hue Jackson?RELATED: Raiders roster
Cooper Carlisle Oaklands Mr. Dependable, Carlise was the onlyRaiders offensive lineman to start every game at the same position in2010. He is sure to be pushed next season by Bruce Campbell.Langston Walker A favorite of owner Al Davis, Walker is one ofjust three holdovers from the Raiders Super Bowl team of 2002, minushis two-plus season sabattical in Buffalo. Walker found a home at righttackle. Walker missed a game after suffering a scary-looking concussionat home against Denver.Khalif Barnes Brought in to presumably start at left tackle2009, a broken ankle halted his plans. Instead, hes found a niche as abackup lineman du jour, pass-catching eligible tackle and locker roomcutup.Mario Henderson Lane Kiffins one-time whipping boy, Hendersonseemed to settle in at left tackle by default in 2009. But the arrivalof Veldheer pushed Henderson to the fringes. With Walker an impendingunrestricted free agent, Henderson might move out to right tackle fulltime.RELATED: Raiders 2010 game-by-game results
Daniel Loper Offensive linemen are like referees in a game;the less you notice them, the better their performance. Loper performedadmirably in starting four games for the injured Gallery at left guardearly on. Bruce Campbell The Combines workout warrior with hisoff-the-charts measurables, Campbell saw significant action on the linein just one game in the blowout at Denver. He was mostly used onspecial teams and was inactive the last five games, much to the chagrinof Davis. A left tackle by trade, Campbell was moved to right guard andwill make a push to start there next season.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders used the No. 24 overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. This wasn’t a second-round flier or a late-round gamble.

That’s a first-round pick. Rolling the dice this early is ill advised. The Raiders don't believe they did with a selection accompanied by a $5.78 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in total money and a valuable fifth-year option to keep a player in town.

They wouldn’t risk such an asset on someone in serious legal trouble. The Raiders did significant research on Conley, who was accused of rape earlier this week, before making a selection. Results gave the Raiders confidence in their choice. 

Conley has not been arrested or charged over an allegation that stems from an April 9 interaction in a Cleveland hotel.

Conley said the accusations are “completely false,” in a statement released by his agent. He claims to have witnesses and video evidence that he didn’t do anything illegal during an exchange where group sex was suggested. He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police about the allegation and an investigation into it on Monday.

Conley said he took and passed polygraph test prior to the draft, hoping to avoid a free fall into the draft’s later rounds.

The Raiders clearly believe him. They wouldn’t have used such a high pick on the Ohio State cornerback otherwise. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team thoroughly investigated the matter, and felt comfortable using a high pick on someone who sat alone atop their draft board at No. 24 overall.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” McKenzie said Thursday night, after making the Conley pick. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley. We feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him be a great teammate for our players.”

McKenzie didn’t detail the Raiders research efforts, but didn’t seem concerned about this off-field issue.

“I don’t want to get into all the details,” McKenzie said, “but the bottom line is that we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were.”

McKenzie said he spoke with owner Mark Davis about Conley, as he does most first-round options.

The Raiders were impressed by Conley’s workouts and his game tape. The rape accusation obviously gave the NFL pause regarding his draft status, and he slipped somewhat in the first round.

The Raiders are confident following an internal investigation that his legal troubles will pass without incident.

“The research was done,” McKenzie said. "It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research, and we’re very confident in all the information that we got.”