2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Raiders go for basketball players in draft

By JOSH DUBOW - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-28 21:16

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - When Al Davis was in charge, the Oakland Raiders seemed to come out of the NFL draft each year with a track team full of sprinters.

New general manager Reggie McKenzie looked to another sport in his first draft, taking two converted basketball players who are relatively new to football among his five picks on Saturday's final day of the draft.

The Raiders took Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford with their first of two fifth-round picks and Georgia State defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi in the sixth round, hoping to hit big with two potential projects.

``It helps when you talk about how athletic especially big men are,'' McKenzie said. ``Do we go in and look for guys who played basketball? No. But when we research and get down into the scouting part of it, yes. That's part of the process.''

Oakland also took San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris in the fourth round, Arizona receiver Juron Criner in the fifth and Penn State linebacker Nathan Stupar in the seventh.

The Raiders previously took Utah guard Tony Bergstrom with a compensatory pick at end of the third round on Friday as McKenzie had few picks to work with after previous deals had cost Oakland it's top three picks and two others.

The Raiders are also targeting a potential backup quarterback in free agency, having scheduled a visit with former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart for next week.

``We set out to try to upgrade the team and by the end of the day we felt like we did that,'' McKenzie said. ``It remains to be seen just how good they will be, but we anxiously will await their presence here in Oakland and also into camp. We're excited. It was a good weekend. We feel good about where we've come so far.''

Much of the day was spent bolstering depth with Bergstrom likely the only player with a strong shot to earn a starting job in training camp. Burris and Criner figure to be immediate contributors but the two converted basketball players likely need time to develop.

Crawford, who grew up in England, moved to the United States to play basketball in high school and picked up football in his junior year. He then went to Penn State, where he started the past three seasons. He had 6.5 sacks for the Nittany Lions last season.

``It's a little emotional right now, everybody is crying,'' Crawford said. ``It's so unlikely. I told myself coming into this situation that I wasn't going to get upset if I didn't get drafted. I have come so far already. I am just so happy. This is one of the best days of my life.''

Bilukidi, whose father was an Angolan diplomat, has even less experience.

He didn't start playing football until his last year of high school in Canada. He then went to junior college at Eastern Arizona and finished his college career at Georgia State where he had 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in two years.

``It's not like basketball,'' he said. ``Basketball is physical but football is just another game and it's more physical. The whole contact about it, just hitting people, that's what I like to do.''

McKenzie showed his affinity for basketball players even before the draft when he signed former Cal State Fullerton power forward Andre Hardy to a free-agent contract as a tight end even though he hadn't played football since high school.

``We're close to having a starting five,'' coach Dennis Allen said.

McKenzie said he wanted to target players with a passion for the game and he found another in Burris with the 129th overall pick. Burris had eight sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and 78 tackles for the Aztecs last season.

``I'm a very versatile player and I pride myself on being tough and playing through every game and practice no matter how I feel and no matter what's going on with my body,'' Burris said. ``I'm an explosive and powerful player and I just love the game. I love the violence of it and I just love to go out and compete.''

Criner had 31 touchdowns and 202 catches for 2,770 yards his final three seasons at Arizona but lacks the top-end speed the Raiders targeted in receivers under Davis' leadership. He was clocked at 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which hurt his draft standing.

``There's a difference between playing on the field and having field speed than straight-line speed,'' Criner said. ``So, I don't feel like I would really having a problem fitting into that category.''

Stupar, the nephew of former Raiders quarterback Jeff Hostetler, started sparingly at Penn State and is projected as a special teams contributor and backup middle linebacker.

The Raiders are also looking to fill a void at backup quarterback by scheduling a tryout next week with Leinart. Leinart has a familiarity with Oakland's offensive system because new coordinator Greg Knapp was his quarterbacks coach in Houston. Leinart also has a relationship with starter Carson Palmer, whom he backed up to start his college career at Southern California.

After winning two national titles with the Trojans and being the No. 10 overall pick in 2006 by Arizona, Leinart has failed to meet expectations. He started 11 games as a rookie with the Cardinals but only seven games in the past five seasons.

He got a chance to start last season with the Texans after Matt Schaub broke his right foot, but Leinart dislocated his left shoulder in the first half against Jacksonville on Nov. 27, ending his season.

``We just want to take a closer look at him, watch him throw the ball and see how his injury has come around,'' McKenzie said.

Notes: The Raiders announced that they will donate 10 percent of any new season ticket orders paid for from May 1-June 30 to the Oakland public school system.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group