Raiders target playmaker at seven

Al Davis loves making a splash. He loves offense and the vertical game. One player who the team interviewed in Indianapolis is an immediate impact player.

After seeing AFC West rival San Diego have so much success with the Maryland program last year and the selection of Shawne Merriman, the Raiders are looking to the Terrapin program and tight end Vernon Davis. The hope is to catch the same magic that sent Merriman to the Pro Bowl.

The decision to leave school early was aided by his former teammate.

"(Merriman) basically helped me with my decision," Davis said. "I went to him before I left Maryland and I asked him if it was a good idea to leave and he said, 'Yeah, you had a great season and there's not much more you can do there at Maryland.'"

Davis confirmed that he is be one of 60 players who have met with the Raiders at the NFL Combines, as per NFL rules.

And what team couldn't use a dynamic tight end. The Raiders may already have Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, but Davis would open things up in a way that many haven't seen.

That has the Raiders talking to Davis, a player that has been compared to Antonio Gates.

"He's good. He is someone I have watched throughout my college career and I like the way he plays," said Davis. "But there are some things when I look at the guy, he does a little better than myself and things I do better than him as far as speed, things like that."

A pretty bold statement from a special tight end. But to say he does some things better than Gates, a two-time Pro Bowler in three years, may be a bit of a stretch.

Attitude, coupled with ability, however, have made Davis an unstoppable force on the college gridiron.

"When you've got a guy who can do more than catch the ball, get extra yardage after catching the ball and make guys miss," Davis began. "That pretty much speaks for itself."

After collecting 27 receptions for 441 yards to lead the team in 2004, Davis went on to haul in 51 passes for 871 yards and six touchdowns – becoming a game-changing weapon.

And now the Raiders are showing serious interest in the 6-foot-5, 263-pound tight end (official numbers from Indy).

He blew away the competition at the tight end position, registering the best 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds), broad jump (10 feet 8 inches) and vertical jump (42 inches). It vaulted him from the middle of the first round to inside the top ten.

Considered the top tight end in the draft, Davis is a mix of athleticism, size and speed. Eerily similar to Gates. Lining him up opposite Moss would be a nightmare for the opposition – the only question is whether there is enough ball to around.

"I am blessed," added Davis. "I have good speed and I always make the catch. I block well and my route running has gotten a lot better."

And blessed would be the Raiders if they carted out such a tandem as Moss and Davis.


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