Raiders key matchup No. 1: Janikowski vs. Dawson

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Raiders key matchup No. 1: Janikowski vs. Dawson

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Browns matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at the O.co ColiseumRaiders PK Sebastian Janikowski vs. Browns PK Phil DawsonTale of the tape
Janikowski (11): 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, 13th season, Florida State
Dawson (4): 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, 14th season, TexasALAMEDA -- With Cleveland's resurgent defense, which forced eight Pittsburgh turnovers last week, the Raiders having seemingly found some life in the second half at Cincinnati last Sunday, and a few days of rain threatening to turn the field into a quagmire, the game might be decided by the feet of the two best kickers in the AFC this season.Dawson, who spent part of training camp in 1998 with the Raiders and has been with the Browns since they were re-born in 1999, has made 27 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL. He is 21-for-21 this season."I'm fond of the way he practices," said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. "I'm fond of the way he prepares and he's just clutch. There's some guys that are just clutch at doing what they do and I think that's what separates some guys from being great to good to not so good."He's displayed, by producing the way he does, that he's one of the great kickers."Earlier this season, Dawson tied a league record with three field goals of at least 50 yards and yes, Janikowski also shares the mark. He also has 15 career game-winning field goals and is Cleveland's franchise record in field goals made (297) and is second on the Browns' all-time scoring list (1,238 points).Janikowski, meanwhile, will be playing in his 200th career game after being the Raiders' first-round draft pick in 2000. The left-footed kicker is already Oakland's career-leading scorer with 1,355 points, thanks in part to his 315 career field goals.He has made 28 of his last 29 field goals, dating to last season, 23 of 24 this season, and the lone miss was a record-attempting 64-yarder at the end of regulation against Jacksonville this season. In fact, he has made 49 straight field goals from 40 yards or less and his 39 career field goals from 50 yards or more lead in the NFL since 2000.So how might the rain change Raiders coach Dennis Allen's thought process in how he'll use Janikowski, who shares the NFL record for longest field goal with a 63-yarder?"It affects everything," Allen said Friday. "Its going to affect how you call the game offensively, its going to affect how you call the game defensively, its going to affect what decisions you make in the kicking game. When it rains like it does today, and if the wind is, as I look at the forecast, if the winds what I anticipate it being it will be a factor in the game, for sure."Beyond Janikowski and Dawson potentially deciding the game, they could also determine Sunday who will represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl.

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...