Evaluating the roster: QBs and RBs
Greg Trott/Getty Images
Senior Writer
Posted Jul 19, 2008


With less than a week left before the Raiders open training camp, Silver and Black Illustrated’s Michael Wagaman breaks down Oakland’s roster player by player, position by position. This is the first of a four-part series, beginning with a look at the quarterbacks and running backs.

* Not a depth chart. Players listed in alphabetical order only. Jersey number in parentheses.

QB

(5) Sam Keller, 6-4, 230, Nebraska: Undrafted rookie is an intriguing player who showed some potential as a senior with the Huskers, setting at the time what was a single-game passing record, though he was benched later in the year. A longshot to make the roster, he has a decent chance to last a bit in if for no other reason than to serve as a camp arm.

(7) Jeff Otis, 6-1. 210, Columbia: Was in the Raiders’ camp last year and made some nice throws but is still very raw and needs more experience before he can be considered a legitimate contender for a roster spot. The problem is he’s not likely going to get many serious reps because JaMarcus Russell is going to need as much time as possible in the preseason to get comfortable with the offense.

(2) JaMarcus Russell, 6-6, 255, LSU: Speaking of Russell, last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick officially takes over as Oakland’s starter after sitting idle most of his rookie season. In terms of sheer talent, he’s the total package. Arm strength, quick release, great size and a developing knack for creating on the run. But all of it is mostly unproven at the NFL level and there’s an enormous amount of pressure on Russell to not only run the offense but essentially serve as the savior of a franchise that has been starved for success the last five seasons.

(8) Marques Tuiasosopo, 6-1, 220, Washington: Tui returns for a second go-round in Oakland though there’s not guarantee it’ll be much different than his first run with the Raiders. The upside is that if he can pick up the offense quick enough, there’s a solid chance he can win the backup job behind Russell. He’s the senior member of the quarterback crew, so his experience could be valuable in aiding Russell’s maturation.

(16) Andrew Walter, 6-6, 230, Arizona State: The other contender for the backup job, Walter’s career has pretty much emulated Tui’s. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to play and hasn’t had much success when he has. It wouldn’t be a total surprise if he were to beat out Tuiasosopo for the spot behind Russell; then again, it wouldn’t be shocking if he were cut at some point, either.



RB

(29) Michael Bush, 6-1, 245, Louisville: Former college stud will finally get his shot after missing all of 2007 recovering from a broken leg suffered in the first game of his senior season. Bush beefed up in the offseason, not adding muscle but serious bulk particularly in the upper body. He also showed off some very good receiving skills during offseason workouts, which will enable Oakland to use him in third-down situations.

(38) Adimchinobi Echemandu, 5-10, 225, California: Was with the Raiders and Texans last season before rejoining Oakland in the offseason. Echemandu would have a good shot at making the club if the backfield wasn’t as stacked as it was. The Raiders like his talent and will keep him around in camp in case of emergency but it’s going to be tough for him to stick longer than that.

(25) Justin Fargas, 6-1, 220, USC: The leading candidate for the starting job, Fargas is coming off the best season of his career when he silenced critics with what was an outstanding year. Fargas’ style fits perfectly with the zone blocking systems Oakland uses because he doesn’t dance around and hits the hole without hesitation. He has his work cut out, however, trying to hold off Bush and Darren McFadden.

(36) Justin Griffith, 6-0, 230, Mississippi State: Veteran fullback saw his playing time reduced late last season with the emergence of rookie Oren O’Neal, but a foot injury to O’Neal in the offseason likely means Griffith goes into the regular season as the starter. Griffith is a lo cker room leader who is also a great run blocker, which is huge considering how much the Raiders will lean on the ground game this season.

(34) LaMont Jordan, 5-10, 230, Maryland: Almost guaranteed of playing for another team when the 2008 season starts, Jordan for now is stuck in limbo. There’s no room for him in Oakland, and though there has been tepid interest from a few teams, as of yet no one has shown a big interest in a player who is likely to be released by the Raiders at some point.

(20) Darren McFadden, 6-2 210, Arkansas: First-round draft pick who will see plenty of playing time and will push Fargas for the starting job. McFadden was a do-it-all back in college and the Raiders will try to exploit his versatility by lining him up in the backfield and at wide receiver. He can also throw a pretty good pass, which gives head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp several options.

(46) Oren O'Neal, 5-11, 245, Arkansas State: Started out as a special teams standout but eventually became a big part of the offense. His development as a blocker was huge and by season’s end he was taking playing time away from veteran Justin Griffith. O’Neal suffered a foot injury in the offseason which could slow him down early in training camp but Oakland fully intends on using him extensively once he heals.

(41) Louis Rankin, 6-1, 205, Washington: Undrafted free agent made a few nice runs during the offseason minicamps to earn an invitation to training camp but he’s got a long haul ahead to make the roster. At best, he’s likely headed for the practice squad though with a little luck and a strong preseason could also have a shot on special teams..



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