NFL arrest season kicks off in style

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NFL arrest season kicks off in style

You might think this is midsummer. Or the start of the second half of the baseball season. Or maybe the final push of the Tour de France.

Well, youd be wrong.

What this really is, friends, is NFL arrest season.

Its become an annual rite of July. After OTAs finish and before training camp approaches, cops get busy pulling over NFL players -- most of whom have decided to save the cab fare and slip behind the wheel when theyre drunk. Though sometimes they decide to do other stupid stuff, like beat up people -- including family members.

To be truthful, almost every month is NFL arrest season. But there seems to be a flurry of activity as players see the monotony and pain of training camp approaching.

Marshawn Lynch was arrested on Saturday night in Oakland for driving under the influence. He signed a 31 million contract in March, which means he probably could afford a car service. It was Lynchs third run-in with the law in just over four years.

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was also arrested on Saturday, for domestic violence after allegedly attacking his mother. Reports say that Bryant grabbed his mother by the hair, ripped her shirt and slapped her face. Not exactly the stuff of a Campbells Chunky Soup commercial.

Other arrests include Adrian Peterson, who was charged with resisting arrest, rookie Justin Blackmon who was arrested on aggravated DUI -- three times the legal limit, Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil for road rage, Eagles running back Dion Lewis for falsely reporting a fire and Detroit defensive end Nick Fairley -- for the second time in two months -- for DUI.

And then theres the 49ers Aldon Smith, who got his DUI arrest out of the way early in the offseason, in January, but capped off a disturbing offseason by getting stabbed at a house party. Back in April Darrius Heyward Bey was arrested for a DUI.

There are so many NFL arrests that the San Diego Union Tribune has its own NFL arrest database, dating back to 2000. Plug in the name of your favorite player and see if hes been arrested and what the charges are. According to the database, 19 players have been arrested since Super Bowl Sunday to June 23rd, though theres a lot of updating to do in the past few weeks and that window doesnt include some 2012 arrests including Smiths.

So hows that whole new sheriff thing working out for you, Roger Goodell?

The NFL is Americas most popular sport, by far. Advertisers flock to it. Everyone wants to be associated with it. But the league is clearly doing an extremely poor job of educating and controlling its players especially when it comes to not getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. These ongoing arrests are an embarrassment to Commissioner Goodell and his get-tough policy. He has fined players, suspended players, but still the message isnt getting across.

Whats the solution? Longer training camps? Year-round contracts? Free car service for every player in the league? Mandatory classes on behaving like a mature adult?

The solution isnt obvious. But the NFL has the money and the resources to figure out some sort of solution to this ongoing, embarrassing problem.

In the meantime, be warned: its NFL arrest season. You might want to stay off the streets until training camp begins.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

ALAMEDA – Raiders general manger Reggie McKenzie made nine selections in this weekend’s NFL draft. That was a requirement given the state of his roster, featuring a stacked offense and a Swiss-cheese defense. It has holes.

He spent significant draft capital trying to upgrade the middle of his defense especially, adding three defensive backs, two defensive tackles and a fifth-round pick in Marquel Lee who will compete to start at middle linebacker.

He needs a few immediate impact players on the defensive group headlined by first-round cornerback Gareon Conley and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu.

“How much do I think I can get out of this group? I hope a lot,” McKenzie said Saturday after the NFL draft was complete. “They’re all going to come in and compete. We’re signing guys post-draft also. We’re going to give them all the opportunity to compete with the veterans that we already have on board. We hope that out of it all, the competition part of it, the cream rises and we have a very good 53-man roster.”

McKenzie follows a draft board thoroughly constructed through hundreds of scouting reports and cross checks, and extensive evaluation at combines and pro days. He trusts it. It has certainly treated him well before, which productive hauls in 2014 and 2015 especially.

While he lost out on some likable players taken before his slot, McKenzie believes the Raiders added quality and depth in previously lacking position groups. He stuck with size and athleticism at times over college production and, as always, beefed up both the offensive and defensive lines.

“I think the way it fell, we got a lot of players, at the end of the day, it looks like we needed,” he said. “We felt like we got a lot of good players with high talent levels from top to bottom. Some are going to be more raw than others. We’re going to have to see down the line, more so. I think talking to the board, you said, ‘Job well done.’”

McKenzie also focused on fixing a lackluster pass defense with speed. Conley can be a shutdown cornerback outside or in the slot. Melifonwu is a heavy hitter who can play both safety spots and is expected to contribute as a rookie. The secondary must improve to prevent big plays and help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin get after the quarterback.

“You have to have speed to play the game the way it’s going now,” McKenzie said. “You have to be able to play in space. You have to be able to match up. We took all of that into consideration when we brought these players in. To the players that you mentioned, Obi and Conley, both of those guys have great range, speed, very athletic. So, they make tackles in space. That’s one of the things that we looked at. Make sure short to medium plays don’t turn into big plays. I think they will help in that scenario.”

Here’s a full list of Raiders draft picks:

Round 1 (No. 24 overall): CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
Round 2 (No. 56 overall): S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Round 3 (No. 88 overall): DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Round 4 (No. 129 overall): OT David Sharpe, Florida
Round 5 (No. 168 overall): LB Marquel Lee, Wake Forest
Round 7 (No. 221 overall): S Shalom Luani, Washington State
Round 7 (No. 231 overall): OT Jylan Ware, Alabama State
Round 7 (No. 242 overall): RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina
Round 7 (No. 244 overall): DT Treyvon Hester, Toledo

 

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have had great success mining gold from undrafted free agency. Jalen Richard and Darius Latham were kings of last year’s crop, which was six strong by season’s end. with Seth Roberts and Denico Autry other examples of undrafted free agents done good in recent years.

Can Raiders scouts find more helpful pieces from those left out of the NFL draft? Time will tell on that one, but finding the right undrafted players is something the team takes seriously. Scouts revel in undrafted players who make it in the league.

“It’s very rewarding,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “If we sign him as a free agent, we may have had him on the board as draftable, but getting guys post draft, that helps you down the road. To maintain a consistent winner, you have to hit on some of those guys. You have to. The way that the contracts are these days, you have to have some of those type players to help you win football games year in and year out.”

The Raiders will search for those players into Saturday evening to fill the 90-man roster. McKenzie secured some of his top targets with four seventh-round picks, though several more have signed with the club. Here’s a list of those who have signed with the team thus far:

-- OL Jordan Simmons, USC: The hulking offensive lineman signed with the Raiders, he announced on social media. Simmons stands 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, and will turn pro after being denied a sixth year of college eligibility. The talented guard had an injury-riddled career.

-- WR Isaac Whitney, USC: Whitney is yet another undrafted Trojan to join the Raiders roster. He announced the signing on social media. He didn’t have many college stats, but is fast with the size the Raiders prefer in outside receivers.

-- WR Keon Hatcher, Arkansas: Hatcher will reportedly join the offseason receiver group in hopes of taking a roster spot. He had 44 catches for 743 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. (Houston Chronicle)

-- WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The Bears official website reported that Zamora will sign with the Silver and Black. He had63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was suspended three games for abusing a dog in an incident that was caught on video. 

-- S Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma: The Raiders need safety depth, so it was smart of Thomas to sign in Oakland. He was a three-year starter and a team captain. (Houston Chronicle)

-- S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights’ official Twitter account reported a four-year starter in college will give the pros a try in Oakland.

-- DT Jordan Wade, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle will join the Raiders. (SoonerScoop.com)

-- TE Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: The Ducks didn’t have a single player drafted, but Brown will join the Silver and Black. The tight end announced a signing on Twitter. He had 33 catches for 426 yards and five touchdown.

Check back for further updates...