Raiders' Zach Miller added to Pro Bowl roster

Raiders' Zach Miller added to Pro Bowl roster

Jan. 19, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul GutierrezCSNCalifornia.com

Whathad been a year of pain and frustration for Zach Miller has turned intoone of success and recognition more than two weeks after the seasonfinale.Imagine how much more productive the Raiders tight end would have beenhad he not had to deal with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, orbeen hobbled with an injured leg?Miller was officially added to the AFCs Pro Bowl roster this afternoonafter initially being a first alternate and will join Raiderscornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler in Hawaii (defensive tackle Richard Seymour was also voted in but had to pull out due to his nagging hamstring injury). RELATED: Seymour out for Pro BowlSan Diego tight end Antonio Gates was forced to withdraw from the Jan.30 game due to injury, also plantar fasciitis, opening the door forMiller. Jacksonvilles Marcedes Lewis is the only other tight end on the AFC roster.
I was hoping but there was no official word so when coach (Hue)Jackson called, it was a relief, Miller said in a phone interview fromhis Bay Area home.When I came in the NFL one of my goals right away was to get to thePro Bowl. Its one of those achievements that really mean something.Gates was put on the Chargers season-ending Injured Reserve list on Dec. 30, so Miller sort of saw the honor coming.It would be great, Miller said that day. Its always been a goal ofmine. Im just happy that I was still voted as high as I was, eventhough I was playing through a lot of injury, missing a lot of timewith the torn plantar fascia.With the injuries this year and missing time, I feel like I ended up with a pretty good season.Despite missing one game and being limited most of the seasons secondhalf, Oaklands second-round draft pick in 2007 out of Arizona Stateled the Raiders in receptions (60 for 685 yards and a career-high fivetouchdowns) for the third straight season.
RELATED: Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders starsThe 6-feet-5, 255-pound Miller was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, butcircumstances did not allow him to play in the game, held in SouthFlorida the week before the Super Bowl.The game is back in Hawaii, where its been every year but one since 1980.Miller has been to the Islands once before, when his ASU team played inthe 2006 Hawaii Bowl. It was there that his then-roommate, Sun Deviloffensive lineman Brandon Rodd, took him surfing for the first time.Rodd grew up near Pearl Harbor.Miller will have more time to experience the local flavor this timearound and has already picked the brains of Asomugha and Lechler aboutPro Bowl week.They talk about it and how cool of an experience it is, Miller said.Once you make it, youre established in the NFL and guys recognizethat. You get a lot of recognition.In four seasons, Millers 226 catches are third-most by a tight end infranchise history. The potential free agent whether he is restrictedor unrestricted depends upon the language in a new collectivebargaining agreement and former player rep to the union has 2,712career receiving yards and 12 TDs.The Raiders also have Pro Bowl alternates in placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and running back Darren McFadden.Guys arent going to vote for guys that are on losing teams, Miller said of the Raiders relative breakthrough season at 8-8.So, just having more success, as we did this year, and well have evenmore in the future, well have even more guys that deserve going to thePro Bowl.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

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.

-- DT Paul Boyette, Texas: The Raiders continue adding volume at positions of need, including this 298-pound run stuffer. 

-- S Rickey Jefferson, LSU: Yet another safety joins the mix, according to LSU's football Twitter account. There will be a battle at that position all offseason as the Raiders try to sort out which players work best in their system. 

 

Check back for further updates...