Raiders add speed, QB on final day of draft
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – For all of the improvements the Oakland Raiders made to their run defense and offensive line in the NFL draft, the biggest move of the weekend came in a trade.
The Raiders acquired former first-round pick Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins on Saturday for a future draft pick in a move that immediately upgrades the quarterback position.
In other notable moves Saturday, the Raiders drafted offensive lineman Bruce Campbell in the fourth round and traded middle linebacker Kirk Morrison and a fifth-round pick to Jacksonville for a fourth-round pick that they used on Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford.
The success of this weekend will likely rest on the performance of Jason Campbell, whose arrival could signal the end of JaMarcus Russell’s tenure in Oakland.
The Raiders had been linked this offseason to possible deals for Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger. But the trade that finally materialized was for Campbell, who became expendable when the Redskins got McNabb from Philadelphia earlier this month.
Campbell stopped attending offseason workouts after the McNabb trade and didn’t attend the voluntary minicamp last weekend. He was given permission to seek a trade and it finally got done Saturday with the Raiders.
He talked with owner Al Davis, coach Tom Cable and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after the deal was made and feels like he will be the starter this season.
“We can do some good things together,” Campbell told NFL Network. “I see they’re putting together a good draft. They’re putting together a defense that has been outstanding. Last year their defense started to become one of the premier defenses in the league. If we can help out offensively and turn some things around anything is possible.”
Campbell started 52 games for Washington since being a first-round pick in 2005. He has thrown for 55 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and has a passer rating of 82.3 in his career. He is coming off his best season, completing 64.5 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. But the Redskins went 4-12 last season.
Campbell has been hurt by constantly changing offensive coordinators and schemes. He had four different offenses in four years at Auburn, then three more in five years with the Redskins. Now he has to learn a new system with the Raiders.
“It gives me an opportunity to adapt to an offense really quick because I have to learn a lot,” he said. “The only bad part about it is, it doesn’t give me a chance to mature in one offense unless you’re able to take your game to a whole other level because you feel like you’re always starting over.”
Russell has struggled with weight and questions about his work ethic throughout his career and lost his starting job midway through last season. Russell completed 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 passer rating that was the lowest in the league in 11 years.
Russell has already been paid more than $36 million since being drafted in 2007. The Raiders still owe him $3 million in guaranteed money. If he makes the team, Russell will be paid $9.45 million next season.
Campbell has a $3.14 million contract this season and agreed to a $4.5 million extension for 2011, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the extension had not been announced.
Bruce Campbell was the fastest offensive lineman at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds and Ford was the fastest receiver with a 4.28 in the 40. But instead of reaching to take them early in the draft, the Raiders got good value on the third day.
Campbell is considered one of the best physical specimens to come into the NFL. He stands 6-foot-5, 310 pounds but has the speed of a much smaller player. He bench pressed 225 pounds 34 times at the combine and had a 32-inch vertical jump. His arms measured an impressive 36 1/4 inches, which should help ward off speed rushers.
But Campbell has not been able to translate those physical skills to dominating play on the field. He started only 17 games over three seasons at Maryland and didn’t get a single vote for the all-ACC first team last season.
“I always feel like I have something to prove, ever since the combine where people said, ‘Oh, he’s just a workout warrior,”‘ Campbell said. “I always felt like all that stuff is good, but I am actually a good football player. So now I can prove to everybody that I’m a good football player, thanks to the Raiders.”
Offensive line was a big need for the Raiders heading into the draft. They used a third-round pick to take Jared Veldheer of Division II Hillsdale.
The Raiders used their first two picks to try to shore up their leaky run defense, taking linebacker Rolando McClain in the first round and defensive lineman Lamarr Houston in the second.
With McClain expected to step in right away at middle linebacker, the Raiders were able to trade Morrison for the extra pick used to draft Ford, who caught 56 passes for 779 yards and six touchdowns last season at Clemson. Morrison led the team in tackles the past four seasons, but was unable to make the Raiders an elite run defense.
Davis called Morrison to thank him for his contributions to the team, Raiders CEO Amy Trask said she told him “the doors to the organization would always be open.”
The Raiders finished the draft by taking Auburn cornerback Walter McFadden in the fifth round, Arizona State linebacker Travis Goethel in the sixth, and Michigan State cornerback Jeremy Ware and Michigan safety Stevie Brown in the seventh.