We are two weeks away from the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, 14 days until the Oakland Raiders are on the clock with the No. 5 overall pick.

The Raiders have many needs on both sides of the ball and ESPN NFL Insider Todd McShay has unveiled his latest mock draft -- this time, McShay is serving as general manager for all 32 teams and making the picks he would make, not predicting picks -- and when it comes to Oakland, he sees a big shift.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Analyzing McShay mock: Broncos 

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
If they stay where they are in next month’s NFL draft, a lot will have happened by the time the Denver Broncos are on the clock with the 31st pick of the first round. There will be some trades above them and a few surprises, no matter how many times they think they have run the possible scenarios.

But the strength of the draft board should still offer them the chance to pick the best player available at what is also a position of need. That’s certainly the case in ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s latest mock draft.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Analyzing McShay mock: Chiefs 

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
Most conventional pre-draft wisdom has the Kansas City Chiefs going with a wide receiver in the first round, 23rd overall. USC’s Marqise Lee, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr., Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin are some of the receivers who have been associated with the Chiefs at that pick.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay in his latest mock draft has the Chiefs veering in another direction with that pick.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay puts on the general manager cap and selects players he'd pick as the head personnel man for a team in his latest mock draft .

Top priorities for the Chargers heading into this year's draft include filling needs at cornerback, edge rusher, defensive tackle, interior offensive line and receiver.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

When the Denver Broncos gathered this week for their first group workouts of the offseason, there were plenty of new faces on the roster.

DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib and Will Montgomery lead the way in the new arrival department, at least until the draft class arrives next month. But for many on hand this week, the workouts still had an odd feel to them.

The Broncos were missing three former team captains -- three powerful voices in the locker room, three players others often looked to in good times, as well as bad, to show others the way.

Champ Bailey is in New Orleans, having been released by the Broncos after 10 seasons. Chris Kuper retired and Wesley Woodyard signed with the Tennessee Titans.

And while Super Bowls are won with talent on the field, they are also won with how things get handled in the locker room along the way, because ego, the pursuit of credit, fretting over contract status, grousing over playing time and the general human condition has cratered almost as many title hopefuls as the injury report.

Asked this week about the team's identity, quarterback Peyton Manning said what he usually says when things such as identity or chemistry are the topics of the day.

"I don't know if it has to be the same or different," Manning said. "I want it to be an identity that helps us win football games. I think it's hard to say what it is going to be at this point. Our full roster has certainly not been decided. The draft is -- when is the draft now? It's like in September now. ...We still probably need to see who we are based on who the personnel is, I think you form the identity from that. I think it is OTAs, it's definitely training camp and obviously it'd be nice to have it somewhere around the beginning of the season, but even before, I think you can develop it throughout the course of the season -- what really works for you."

It also means players such as Manning and left tackle Ryan Clady, the team's captains on offense last season -- Wes Welker replaced Clady when Clady went on injured reserve -- will again have prominent roles in the locker room.

But defensively, with Bailey and Woodyard gone, there are some players who are going to have to step forward in how they handle themselves as well as how they interact with their teammates. Linebacker Danny Trevathan has the look of a potential captain in how he approaches his job and how he plays on the field. As does cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who is currently working his way back from ACL surgery.

They will be two of the most important voices in the defensive meeting room, kind of a bridge between the new arrivals like Ward, Talib and Ware and the players who have been with the Broncos. But it would be a shock if Ware, whose friends in the league say is one of the hardest workers they have been around, is not elected a team captain by his new teammates when the votes get tallied later this summer.

Ware is a classic lead-by-example guy who has 117 sacks on his playing resume. He will serve an important role in the coming weeks and months, as a veteran presence on that side of the ball. And while Ware's presence will certainly benefit Von Miller, Derek Wolfe is another player who could reap the rewards as well. Wolfe had the look of an impact player as a rookie in 2012 before last season's illness landed him on injured reserve.

The Broncos have some questions to answer on the field as they get started, but they're working through some in the locker room as they move through these opening weeks of their offseason work.

"Everything is all about details when it comes to football," Ware said this week. "When you have everything in place, it really doesn't matter. It comes to the small things of guys really wanting it, the mistakes that you make and it starts this offseason with just working out and guys really giving it their all. That carries over into the season."
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: We already knew the Raiders would have, based upon opponents and last year’s records, the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL in 2014, including the toughest road opponents in the league. And still, the actual dates and times announced made it seem all the more daunting. A slow start, which we show is very possible, would have third-year coach Dennis Allen feeling the heat by the Raiders’ bye in Week 5. A pair of home games against the San Diego Chargers and the Carson Palmer-led Arizona Cardinals, with Jared Veldheer protecting his blind side, could act as a salve. Maybe. The middle of the schedule is also rife with pitfalls. Oakland faces the two teams that played in the most recent Super Bowl in consecutive weeks with a home game against the Denver Broncos and on the road at Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders should have an identity by then. But will they still have something to play for by that point? Oakland finishing with two of three on the road at AFC West rivals Kansas City and Denver will let us know if the Raiders are mere spoilers. Again.

Complaint department: The schedule makers did the rebuilding Raiders no favors, immediately sending them to the New York Jets and the New England Patriots in Weeks 1 and 3 (Oakland has lost 13 straight games in the Eastern time zone) before the "home" game in London against the Miami Dolphins. Then in December, they play in cold-weather climates at both Kansas City and Denver. What’s that about the alpha and the omega? Then there’s this -- sure, the Raiders have been among the league’s dregs for the better part of a decade, but they have a certain national appeal. And yet, Oakland is shut out of "Monday Night Football" for the second time since 2007. The Raiders’ lone scheduled prime-time game is a Thursday night matchup at home against the Chiefs on Nov. 20. Like the man said, it’s not paranoia if they’re out to get you, or something like that.

Down in the dirt: The Raiders are the lone NFL team to still share a stadium with a major league baseball team. And if the Oakland A’s make a deep run in the playoffs, the Raiders could have as many as three games on the baseball infield dirt. If the A’s fail to qualify for the postseason, it should be only one -- newly acquired quarterback Matt Schaub’s reunion with the Houston Texans for Oakland’s home opener in Week 2. Speaking of renewing acquaintances, the preseason series between the Raiders and 49ers was suspended due to fan violence, but the Bay Area rivals meet for real on Dec. 7.

Strength of schedule: 1st, .578 | Vegas over/under : 5

Raiders Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Houston, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at New England, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Miami, 1 p.m. (in London)
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Cleveland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Denver, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 20, Kansas City, 8:25 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, Buffalo, 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.

Denver Broncos schedule analysis

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: Denver Broncos coach John Fox will always caution against making judgments about a schedule based on what happened the year before. Regardless, it's easy to see the challenges that await the Broncos in 2014 and they won't have to wait very long to get right down to it. The Broncos' first three games are against three teams that made the playoffs in 2013 -- the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. They will face 2013 playoff teams in six of their first eight games. The opening eight-game stretch also includes the Arizona Cardinals, who did not make the NFC's playoff field last season despite a 10-6 record. The Broncos are also going to have be ready to finish strong on the road if they are going to add a fourth consecutive division title. They have three consecutive road games -- at New England, at Oakland and at St. Louis -- in November and play six of their last nine on the road.

Complaint department: OK, now I'm with Peyton Manning on this one. Manning has questioned whether some things in the NFL schedule are truly "random" and the almost annual trip to Foxborough, Mass., is starting to look like a non-random event. Sure, Tom Brady-Manning matchups are historical, but the Broncos wish more of those would happen in Denver. The Broncos have played the Patriots on the road in each of the previous three seasons, in 2011 season it was a playoff game, and 2014 will be the fourth. Since the start of the 2002 season the Broncos have played five regular-season games in Gillette Stadium and one playoff game. Also, the Broncos may not admit it, but they won't like the early bye week. They like the off week to hit close to the midpoint of the season, but this year get the off week in Week 4, before September had even drawn to a close.

Muscle up: With a flashback to the 2013 preseason, when the Broncos were pushed around a bit by the San Francisco 49ers and the Seahawks, this year's regular-season slate will have that same physical flavor. And a team that has largely built its back-to-back 13-3 finishes on the precision and timing of its next-level passing attack, will have to be ready to roll up its sleeves and wrestle in the heavyweight division. The team has tried to add some grittiness to the defense this offseason in cornerback Aqib Talib, safety T.J. Ward and defensive end DeMarcus Ware, they have made their intentions clear to try to run the ball more efficiently. To have a shot to get back to the Super Bowl, they'll need all of the above as the league's divisional rotation has them facing the NFC West. The Broncos will have to muscle their way through those games to win a fourth consecutive division title of their own.

Strength of schedule: 2nd, .570 | Vegas over/under : 11

Broncos Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 23, San Diego, 8:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at New England, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Miami, 4:25 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, Buffalo, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Monday, Dec. 22, at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: Don’t expect the Kansas City Chiefs to be the NFL’s final undefeated team again this season. Their schedule is loaded throughout, particularly early in the season. After opening against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 7, the Chiefs play against three of last season’s four conference finalists over the next four weeks. The Chiefs play four of their last six games against their rivals from the AFC West. Their final three home games are against the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. That could be a useful feature of their schedule if they’re still in the playoff race by then.

Complaint department: The Chiefs have an early stretch with four of five games on the road. Included are road games against Denver, the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers and a home game against the New England Patriots. They could be buried by the time this stretch ends on Oct. 19. If they can find a way to win two of those games, including a matchup with the Dolphins in Miami, the Chiefs might be able to survive. No matter how the schedule was drawn up, the Chiefs weren’t going to have many soft spots. If such a thing exists this year, it’s a midseason stretch when they face the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets at home followed by a game against the Bills in Buffalo.

Prime-time players: The Chiefs were given three night games, one each on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. That’s no surprise given they were an 11-win team last season and have a schedule featuring several of the league’s top teams as opponents. But Arrowhead Stadium will be home to its first prime-time game in three years on Monday, Sept. 29, when they play against the Patriots. Arrowhead will also be the venue for a Sunday night game on Nov. 20 against the Broncos, though that game could eventually be flexed from that time slot. Their Thursday night game is Nov. 20 against the Raiders in Oakland.

Strength of schedule: 7th, .559 | Vegas over/under : 8.5

Chiefs Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Miami, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Monday, Sept. 29, New England, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 20, at Oakland, 8:25 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, San Diego, 1 p.m.

San Diego Chargers schedule analysis

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: For the second year in a row, the San Diego Chargers’ season opener is on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in the late game of a Monday night doubleheader. The Chargers have three nationally televised games -- the Cardinals in the regular-season opener, a Thursday night contest at AFC West rival Denver on Oct. 23 and a Sunday night tilt at home against the New England Patriots on Dec. 7.

San Diego had four nationally televised games in 2013.

The Chargers are tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the fourth-toughest schedule in NFL for the 2014 season. The Chargers face opponents that had a combined winning percentage of 56.3 last season. The Oakland Raiders have the toughest schedule in the 2014 season, facing teams with a combined winning percentage of 57.8 percent, followed by Denver (57.0 percent) and St. Louis (56.4).

The Chargers' bye week is Week 10, the latest the team has had a bye since 2010. San Diego had a bye in Week 8 last season. Since Philip Rivers took over as the starter in 2006, the Chargers are 3-5 in the game after the bye week.

Complaint department: The Chargers finish the regular season with three of their last five games on the road, facing four playoff teams from last season (New England, Denver, San Francisco and Kansas City), along with a team that almost made the playoffs in Baltimore. That closing schedule is much different than 2013, when San Diego finished with four of their last five games at home. The Chargers won their last four games to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Beating the best of the best: While the Chargers, on paper, have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, San Diego usually rises to the occasion. San Diego finished an NFL-best 5-2 against playoff-bound teams in 2013. And the Chargers lost by an average of six points during the regular season, with the team’s worst defeat a 27-17 humbling at Oakland. Led by an ultra-competitive quarterback in Rivers, the Chargers rarely lay an egg from week to week.

Strength of schedule: 4th, .563 | Vegas over/under : 8.5

Chargers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Monday, Sept. 8, at Arizona, 10:20 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Seattle, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Jacksonville, 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, NY Jets, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Kansas City, 4:05 p.m.
Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 23, at Denver, 8:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, St. Louis, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, New England, 8:30 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Denver, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 20, at San Francisco, 4:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
The most poignant Oakland Raiders plea leading up to the new league year last month?

No doubt it was Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece saying the weekend before free agency began that he wanted general manager Reggie McKenzie to make “Raider-ass moves” in signing players. As in, bold moves.

So, after signing 12 free agents, acquiring a new quarterback in Matt Schaub and jettisoning QB Terrelle Pryor, does Reece, the new voice of the Raiders, think McKenzie has followed through on his, ahem, advice?

“I do feel he did that,” Reece said Tuesday, the first day of voluntary offseason workouts for the Raiders.

“We weren’t looking for any saviors to come here and get in this locker room. We were looking for help. We were looking for help to bring this tradition, the winning attitude and a championship pedigree back to this organization and to the locker room and I think we did that.”

Consider: Defensive end Justin Tuck, offensive lineman Kevin Boothe, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and receiver James Jones are toting a combined seven Super Bowl rings to Oakland from their time with the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

Surely that has to rub off on the Raiders, no? That’s the plan.

“Like I said, it’s a certain stature and pedigree that you have, only by winning a championship,” Reece said. “Things that even leaders like myself don’t have yet. I haven’t been able to experience the playoffs or a championship, and when guys like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, when you bring guys like that in here, especially on the defensive side of the ball, it really helps. It brings a different aspect of leadership into a locker room and into a team.”

Reece served as a recruiter for the Raiders and said left tackle Donald Penn told him Tuesday he was “tired of me texting him two or three times a day” before he eventually signed.

“Obviously, we lost out on a few guys that we wanted to keep,” Reece said, likely referring to left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston and running back Rashad Jennings. “But I think other than that, we were fairly successful.”

As was the turnout for the first day of workouts, even if there was no official tally.

“Very close to 100 percent,” Reece said. “A couple of guys that aren’t here, I know why they’re not here and when they’re going to show up. There’s always things that come up, it’s life. It is 100 percent in my eyes. It means a lot to me, especially the veteran guys.”

And Reece’s thoughts on Pryor being traded a day earlier to the Seattle Seahawks?

“Nothing surprises me at this point in time in my career,” Reece said. “I’ve seen a lot happen in my seven years here in the organization. Nothing surprises me. As a team, we just wish him the best and thank him for what he did here and wish him the best.”
The Denver Broncos hope DeMarcus Ware -- he of the 117 career sacks, seven Pro Bowl selections and seven seasons with at least 11 sacks -- can have a positive impact on uber-talented linebacker Von Miller in the days and weeks ahead.

And this week Ware said he received some advice from a Hall of Famer that the team certainly hopes works its way back to Miller.

As Ware prepares to enter his 10th season he was asked if he had taken the time to break down some of the great pass-rushers, including Hall of Famers, or sought them out for tips on maintaining a high performance level at this stage of his career.

"Actually, I have," Ware said as the Broncos opened their offseason program at the team's Dove Valley complex. "Actually, they got a little bit more consistent in what they were doing. I actually talked to Michael Strahan and he tells me, 'You know what? You've got to make sure you're lean. Make sure you're able to run, because your body now is a totally different deal once you hit the 30s. So you've got to make sure you're able to stay out there on the field and you have the endurance.' That's what I'm trying to do now."

[+] EnlargeVon Miller
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsVon Miller's weight was reportedly up to 270 pounds before he suffered an ACL injury that ended his season.
It is something Ware has been successful at throughout his career. The Broncos list Ware at 6-foot-4 and 258 pounds on their current roster. At the 2005 NFL scouting combine, Ware was listed at 6-4 and 251 pounds, so physically Ware is largely the same player now as he was when he entered the league almost a decade ago.

Ware said he had already spent time watching game tape with Miller, talking about specific pass-rush moves in a variety of situations against a variety of offensive linemen. But there are certainly plenty of people in and around the Broncos who hope Ware extends the message to Miller about staying lean.

Miller's weight was a topic of conversation last season when he returned from his six-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. The bottom line is many Broncos' decision-makers and Miller's teammates saw him as a special player when he tipped the scales between the 246 pounds he weighed at the 2011 scouting combine and the 255 pounds he said he weighed during the 2012 season when he had 18.5 sacks.

But even before his suspension last year, Miller had made the decision -- for reasons he only described as "it could help me" -- to get bigger. He said he was just over 260 pounds when the Broncos gathered for their offseason program a year ago and by the time he returned from his suspension in October he said he was just over 270 pounds so he "could play with more power."

And while he flashed the disruptive play that put him in the conversation for the league's Defensive Player of the Year award in the 2012 season, Miller wasn't consistently the same player when he returned to the field in 2013 as he had been the year before. He finished with five sacks in nine games before he tore a ligament in his knee in December against the Houston Texans.

Given he is returning from an ACL injury, it would seem playing at a lighter weight would help take some stress off the joint even as he works to strength the muscles around the knee. The Broncos currently list Miller at 6-3, 250 pounds, but they also listed him at that last season when Miller said he weighed at least 20 pounds more when he returned in Week 7 from his league-imposed punishment.

But at a few offseason appearances, Miller has looked slightly leaner than he did last season. Broncos coach John Fox has said "everything is on target," with Miller's return, but he is expected to be limited during the team's organized team activities (OTAs) in May and June and, at the moment, is not expected to participate fully in training camp.

"Now I have an opportunity to shed some advice onto him," Ware said. "He is a great player and I look forward to playing with him this season."
Any time the words "best" or "greatest" get tossed into a football sentence, it is usually little more than the starting point to an argument.

And current New York Giants cornerback Walter Thurmond, who played for the Seattle Seahawks last season, certainly cranked up one of those arguments Tuesday. As the Giants opened their offseason workouts this week, Thurmond, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with New York in free agency, said: "I'm the best slot corner in the league. I'll say that, for sure."

[+] EnlargeChris Harris
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsChris Harris Jr. could be "one of the best in the league," according to former teammate Champ Bailey.
Yes, Thurmond has a Super Bowl ring, courtesy of the Seahawks' 35-point win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. And, yes, he's a quality nickel cornerback in the fast-paced, high-contact world of a defensive back who's asked to play in the slot.

But best slot cornerback in the league? No.

For that designation let's go to a 12-time Pro Bowl selection to make the call. And this past season when former Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was asked about Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., Bailey said: "Chris has that ability to play on the outside and be one of the best in the league. He's smart, he studies, he's tough and competes on every play. But in the slot, at the nickel, he's the best in there. He can match up with anybody."

Sure, Bailey was Harris' teammate and mentor for three seasons. But Bailey doesn't say anybody is the best at anything if they're not. That's just not how he's wired.

Harris made the Broncos' roster as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and since has simply become one of the defense's most consistent and versatile players. Last season Harris started games on the outside, playing both sides of the formation. When the Broncos went to the nickel or dime, Harris was often in the slot.

And when Bailey returned from a foot injury last season and the Broncos tried to limit his snaps by using him as a nickel corner in the slot down the stretch, Bailey said Harris was a quality resource, "a guy I can talk to about playing in there, because everything happens fast, you almost have to know what the offense is doing as much as the receivers. I definitely can learn from him about playing in there."

Harris, who is still coming back from surgery to repair his ACL, took to Twitter to state his case Tuesday. After seeing Thurmond's comments, Harris sent:
Harris, who was an unrestricted free agent, signed his one-year, $2.187 million tender and is rehabbing at the Broncos' complex. The Broncos expect him to be ready for the start of the season.

He will be the starter in one of the outside cornerback positions, with Aqib Talib in the other. But when the Broncos go to their specialty packages, Harris is again expected to get most of the reps in the slot. The Broncos hope Kayvon Webster, a 2013 draft pick, is ready for more work in the defense, but Webster would play in an outside spot when the Broncos go to their specialty looks, leaving Harris to bump down inside when offenses go with three or four wide receivers.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- So what, exactly, is the Oakland Raiders' reputation across the NFL, according to three of the teams’ more respected free-agent veteran signees?

“Man, the impression was they had a lot of talented players but they couldn’t finish,” receiver James Jones said Tuesday, the first day of the Raiders’ voluntary offseason workout program. Jones spent the first seven years of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers.

“Obviously, the record speaks for itself. I wasn’t part of the team back then but as we talked today, 4-12 is not good enough. When we played the Raiders in the past, we’re kind of putting that ‘win’ on the board already. Now, everybody’s got to look at their self in the mirror and we’ve got to understand that we really don’t get no respect, and you’re not going to get no respect when you’re 4-12, so we’ve got to go out there and take it this year. And I believe we’ve got the right guys to do it.”

The Raiders have been among the more busy teams since the new league year began on March 11, having signed 12 free agents and acquiring a new quarterback in Matt Schaub in a trade with the Houston Texans.

Granted, most of the new guys are on the backside of their careers, but to a man they believe they still have a lot in the tank, while acknowledging they have a lot to prove.

“You hear, 'This is a great team, in 2009,'" offered running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had been with the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2006. "Whatever."

There are more chips on these guys’ shoulders, though, than questions ... or whatevers.

"Being a fan of the Raiders," added Jones-Drew, who grew up in the East Bay and still lives in Oakland, "I was always envious of Darren (McFadden) because he got to wear that (silver and black) jersey and he played well, when healthy.

"We brought the right guys in."

Meaning drama-free vets with championship pedigrees, so to speak. And a knack for knowing how to win, as defensive end Justin Tuck's two Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants attest.

And yes, Tuck thought the same as Jones when it came to the Raiders, who have not had a winning season since 2002 and are coming off consecutive 4-12 seasons.

"I would say 'talented,' but hadn’t played together as far as knowing how to win," Tuck said of the recent Raiders. "Beating themselves a little bit. Just like the game up (in New Jersey) last year. They had an opportunity to win, but they couldn’t close it out. That’s the M.O., I guess."

That’s what the veterans were brought to Oakland to do -- reverse the course and teach the team how to win.

“That’s our mentality,” said Tuck, who envisions the Raiders making like last season’s Kansas City Chiefs, who were 11-5 a year after going 2-14.

“A lot of people always say you go to Oakland for your career to die. I’m not looking at it like that. I’m looking at it like this is an opportunity to revive a storied franchise in a city with a great fan base behind this football team. The energy and excitement around this football team should be good. I’m excited about it.”

NFL Nation TV back for seconds

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Join us today at 2 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. PT, as ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s second Spreecast airs live. Hosts Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guest Pat McManamon (Cleveland Browns reporter) take on topics ranging from Terrelle Pryor to Johnny Manziel to Donald Trump to Vernon Davis to Chad Johnson's attempted CFL comeback. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
The Oakland Raiders' trade of quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday to the Seattle Seahawks for the Super Bowl champions’ seventh-round draft pick garnered the Raiders a total of seven selections in May’s NFL draft.

It also gave Oakland three seventh-round choices. Following is where the Raiders currently sit:
  • First round (No. 5 overall)
  • Second round (No. 36)
  • Third round (No. 67).
  • Fourth round (No. 107)
  • Fifth round (No. 146 sent to Seattle for QB Matt Flynn in 2013)
  • Sixth round (No. 181 sent to Houston Texans for QB Matt Schaub on March 21)
  • Seventh round (No. 219, No. 235, from Arizona Cardinals for QB Carson Palmer in 2013, No. 247, from Seattle for Pryor)

And to answer the question, no, Pryor was not traded for the pick that will become the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant, or, the final pick in the draft. Rather, there are nine compensation picks that follow the pick the Raiders now own.