Raiders have something to smile about

The Raiders might have traded away their marquee wide receiver but the loss of Randy Moss didn't put a damper on Lane Kiffin's day. Kiffin was all smiles after Oakland concluded the draft with yet another solid effort.

‘'We're real excited about the direction we're going and the players we have on this roster and what we've done in the last 48 hours,'' Kiffin said. ‘'(Saturday) was perfect and (Sunday) was really strong as well. Really, I'm just counting down the days until they get here and we can get them out on the field because this is all fun. But it's time really to go to work.''

While most of the NFL was still buzzing about the trade of Moss to New England, the Raiders were quietly putting the finishing touches on their most impressive draft in recent memory. After a whirlwind first day in which Oakland drafted JaMarcus Russell and traded for veteran quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams, Kiffin and company continued to turn heads with their work Sunday.

Beginning with their first pick in the fourth round -- they acquired a second fourth-rounder in the Moss deal with New England -- the Raiders landed running back Michael Bush. Bush was projected as a possible second- or third-round pick but a broken leg his final year at Louisville scared potential suitors away.

Oakland, which already has a crowded backfield with LaMont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes and Justin Fargas, wasted no time in taking Bush. Several teams expressed an interest in trading for the Raiders pick -- first in the fourth round -- but with Bush there, Kiffin wouldn't let the pick go.

"If he was not there we would have traded,'' Kiffin said. ‘'We had some really good offers of higher picks next year .. and if he would have come off the board in that third round, we would have traded that pick right there to get more help. But we couldn't do it. It just made more sense as we looked at our board, there was no way we could go any other way.''

The Raiders stayed defensive in the fifth round, grabbing defensive end Jay Richardson (Ohio State) and Washington State safety Eric Frampton. Initially, both are likely to contribute more on special teams than on defense but Kiffin isn't writing either player off as a potential starter, either.

The same can be said about the team's final two picks as well. Oren O'Neal, a fullback from Arkansas State, will probably open the season behind Justin Griffith on the depth chart while Jonathan Holland -- a track champion at Louisiana Tech -- will try to find his way into the mix at wide receiver.

‘'You're coming here to compete and you better be coming here to start because if you don't, then we screwed up and picked the wrong person,'' Kiffin said.

Kiffin will get his first up close and personal look at the Raiders newest rookie class on Friday when the team holds a three-day mandatory mini-camp. Oakland's head coach will have a whole new set of concerns then.

Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess -- who is unhappy about his contract status -- has not taken part in the team's offseason workout program and is seeking a new deal. Kiffin also hinted that the Raiders have made some changes to their offseason line but would not go into detail.

So while one phase of the rebuilding project is over, the next step awaits. For now, at least, Kiffin can smile.


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