Q&A with Raiders head coach Hue Jackson

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Q&A with Raiders head coach Hue Jackson

April 21, 2011

GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEO

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

ALAMEDA - So far, Hue Jackson's first offseason as the Raiders' new head coach has been filled with mostly hurry-up-and-wait moments.The work stoppage, though, has not stopped Jackson from preparing for he upcoming NFL draft, which begins next Thursday with the first round, continues April 29 with the second and third rounds and concluded April 30 with rounds four through seven.Jackson met today with the media at the Raiders compound in Alameda and was asked about rumblings that have Oakland trading up in the draft, to the team's biggest needs, to his ration to a string of player arrests since the season ended.RELATED: Raiders deny Al Davis health scare rumor
Following then, a sampling of Jackson preparing for his first NFL draft as an NFL head coach

Question: What are the odds of getting in the first round?
Hue Jackson: I think were throwing everything around. Were not going to leave any stone unturned. Obviously, we dont have a first-round draft pickeven though we think we have one. We think we have a pretty good one. He plays for us already so were excited about (Richard Seymour) but obviously right now, its a little bit early in the process to know exactly what were going to do. Were still working through it, still making those decisions.Q: Having hit on so many good picks late year, does that take pressure off hitting on picks this year?
Hue Jackson: Oh no. We want to be right every year. I mean, we dont go into a draft saying, Lets make a mistake here or there. We want to go pick the best player for the Raiders. Obviously, its been well documented, theres some better than others. But the bottom line is, like I said, theres no exact science to it, at all. Were going to go out and make a decision and were going to make that decision work, whichever one we decide to pick.
RELATED: Draft preview: offensive linemen
Q: Is your biggest need offensive line?
Hue Jackson: Well, I will tell you its one of our needs. Obviously we have a very young, talented football team and on defense, theres some really good players over there. On special teams there are some really good players over there. Special teams theres some really good players. On offense, theres some really good players on this football team. But obviously there is a particular way that I want to play on offense. I want to continue to create the bully that you guys have all heard me talk about. I want to get a little more physical, tougher, meaner, whatever all those good words are on offense. We are looking for some quality offensive linemen, but were looking for quality all across the board. I dont think theres a player we havent talked about, evaluated or trying to make a decision about as we head into this draft. Obviously we have a very talented team. I feel very comfortable about the team well have when we get back here, but if we can put a couple more pieces to that nucleus that we have coming back I think we have a chance to have a very special group.Q: How different is it to approach the draft when you're not exactly sure who you have coming back from free agency?
Hue Jackson: Its different. Obviously theres been a process to it all, now all of a sudden the process changed. Its different, but its different for 31 other teams, too. So were all in the same boat. We wish we (weren't), but we are, and well all deal with it accordingly. You wish you knew exactly what you have and didnt have. Obviously, we all do. You cant worry about it. You have to continue to press on, go forward and make the decisions that you know you need to make.Q: What are odds you get Nnamdi Asomugha back?
Hue Jackson: You know what? Who knows? Im not really going to comment because I dont think I can, because hes a person thats a free agent, just as any of em, Im not sure based on rules. Its all based on how this thing is going to unfold. None of us knows exactly what people are going to say these people are based on their years in the league and all this, and this and that, but I know, obviously, wed love to have them all back, if we can, but obviously theres decisions that have to be made but right now thats in the hands of the league and whichever, all this, the rules and when the starts to play decides to go.
RELATED: Draft preview: quarterbacks
Q: Is quarterback a position of need?
Hue Jackson: If theres one that the Raiders want to draft, we will. I dont know that its a position of need as it is a position that we will continue to evaluate as we go through this draft. Would I love to get a younger arm on this team? Yes, no question. I think every year you want to find a young arm, a more talented guy that you have a chance to groom and grow as you move forward in your system. But again, we have some other things that we need to address, and no one knows how its gonna unfold from round to round. But if theres a guy sitting there that we really like? You know, I wouldnt be surprised if hes on our team.Q: What are the attributes you most want to see in a quarterback?
Hue Jackson: It truly is the hardest to project. And Ill tell you a story. Ive been very fortunate, having had that opportunity to go and help draft Joe Flacco in Baltimore. So its not an exact science. The key is what youre looking for within your organization, and for me as the head coach of this football team, the No. 1 characteristic that guys got to have is leadership. Hes gotta be able to lead the team, because he is the face of this franchise. Thats first and foremost. No. 2, hes got to be able to complete the ball. Hes gotta be able to throw it straight enough to the guys hes throwing it to. And hes got to be able to display courage, because playing quarterback is tough in the National Football League. So I think we all understand that. So those are some of the characteristics that I look for. And obviously there are some young men in this draft that have those characteristics and are very talented. Can we get em? I dont know. But I think were very comfortable with where we are with Jason on our football team at this time, and Kyle Boller, and well continue to evaluate as we move forward.Q: How heavily will your input weigh with Mr. Davis?
Hue Jackson: Youd be surprisedIve been on four different teams and everybodys runs a draft differently. Everybody has a different way, a different style on how they go about it. Being here last year was great. And as you said earlier, we put together a great draft last year. I dont anticipate anything but putting together a great draft this year, because of the work thats put in, not just by Coach Davis but our coaching staff, the scouts, everybody that helps put this thing together to make the decision to give Coach Davis and myself the information we need to make the best decision for our football team. So I think a lot of people think its a one-man show. He makes the pick and he should. Hes the owner of the team. But the bottom line, he takes a lot of information from us all. And he does take that information in, and he makes a very calculated decision based on what we say and what we think. So its not like its just him. He really and truly listens to what we have to say, and I truly appreciate that. But at the end of the day, hes gonna make that decision, and we all support that.Q: Does the lockout limit some of the changes you would want to make as a first-year coach?
Hue Jackson: Oh boy, no. Not at all. Were going to go do what we need to do. Now, can we do it on a wide scale? No. Probably not. But there will be changes. There has to be. This is now going to be my imprint on this football team. Well come in here and well be a different group, and I think our players know that, and I think our organization knows that and I think our fans know that. Our expectations different. We expect to win, and I think we will.Q: What are the strengths in this draft? Is it weighted one way?
Hue Jackson: I think when you look at the draft obviously all drafts are different but when you look at it I think the offensive lines very heavy, defensive line is extremely heavy, I think there are some very talented cornerbacks. I think there are some talented receivers. People will say this is a different draft class as far as quarterback is concerned. I mean, early people would say there arent very many. Now you hear as many as seven may go. So it changes every day about what it is. But there are some strengths and there are some weaknesses in this draft, but again, its still based on team, what a team needs and how a team values a player and how they see the player when its all said and done.Q: Is it a luxury to not to be in the top 7 or 8 picks, and be able to draft for need and not having to pick the best player available?
Hue Jackson: I think its tough. Thats a lot of pressure, in my opinion, when youre in the top half of the draft. Because you gotta be right. You take an opportunity, you make a decision on a player and the expectation on that player goes through the roof. Be it the media, be it the fans, be it team staff, be it everything. Sometimes, thats a lot of pressure on a young man. This is a tough league and it is what it is, but that is tough. I kind of like being where we are, where have the opportunity to be either in the middle of the round because it means we had a decent season Hopefully, this year well be drafting way late next year because well have a great year.Q: What are the areas that need to be addressed in this years draft?
Hue Jackson: Well, we said it earlier. I know what I want to do as far as our offense is concerned. Youre always looking, as I said before, if theres a great player out there, I dont want to pass him up if we have a chance to put him on our team and hes a true difference-maker for this organization. I dont think anybody would. So, theres no position that we wouldnt look at. Again, its a very young, talented team that we have. So, were probably different than most. Theres some things to fix but theres not a ton. I feel very comfortable. We have a veteran quarterback, we have a veteran defensive football team, we have a very young but talented offensive team. We need to be much stronger in the offensive line; thats where Im going to definitely, hopefully, be able to exert some of my knowledge and strength with. And then we need to continue just to build the Raiders the way we want to build the Raiders. Well just be a very mentally tough and physical football team.Q: What do you think of the schedule?
Hue Jackson: I love it. Are you kidding me? Does it get any better than that? Monday Night Football in Denver. One of our division teams. Then I have the opportunity to go back and play Buffalo in Buffalo in their opening day in Buffalo. And then come home against the Jets and the Patriots. You guys scared? Because Im not. were very excited about our schedule, I am. Again we have a good football team and I make no bones about it that if were going to be the type of team I keep telling you guys were going to be thats who we want to play and we want it like that. Im not going to shy away from the schedule. Is it a lot of travel in the end? No doubt but thats part of it too. those are the things youre team, if youre going to be a great team, youve got to handle and handle right. We have to get on a plane and go play a game way somewhere else, down in Green Bay, down in Miami and come home and dust off and get back on another plane and do it again. Thats going to be our mantle this year, we have to do that. And we have to be very good at doing that.Q: Do you get updates on the labor situation? Ignore it?
Hue Jackson: At first I tuned it all out you know and I said theres other stuff to do. Theres the league meetings, theres the combine, theres all these good things going on. And then all of a sudden you come in here everyday and you keep looking around and you dont see anybody. So then you start saying tell me whats going on here. Now obviously Im a little more involved, I hear a little bit more obviously because theres different proceedings going on. some are weekly, some are every two weeks or whatever that is. But yeah, I try to get updates as much as I can so I stay in the loop and again, its all kinds of different rules that you have to abide by. I want to make sure I dont do anything that puts us in jeopardy in that way either.Q: Have you had to put in contingency plans for a shorter training camp?
Hue Jackson: I have definitely done a bit of both. At first it was were going to approach it as training camp is going to start like it always has. Then all of a sudden theres Plan B and weve kind of laid that out and then theres Plan C and I have a feeling we might be getting to Plan D here pretty soon. Well just keep working through it. You have to go back and keep playing the whole different scenarios as you can. You have an idea of when the schedule is going to start and just kind of work from there. Like I said, we know theres going to be football, we know its coming and we know were going to play. The schedule is going to be what it is and were going to get some training camp time and well be ready to go.Q: Are the offseason arrests a concern?
Hue Jackson: You better believe it is. Im very disappointed about it. Its not very Raider like but obviously theres nothing I can do about it. The rules wont let me talk to those particular players or anything. But I am disappointed. Im sure when were allowed to address it we will.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker wanted to go early, but slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”