Raiders

Vontaze Burfict wastes no time reuniting with Raiders DC Paul Guenther

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AP

Vontaze Burfict wastes no time reuniting with Raiders DC Paul Guenther

Vontaze Burfict was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, and immediately called his mother. The veteran linebacker explained the situation, ended the call and then made another one.

“The second person I called was Pauly G,” Burfict said. “He didn’t pick up. I think I called him like seven times straight.”

Those who know Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther best call him “Pauly G.” Count Burfict firmly in that class.

That’s why Burfict didn’t last long on the open market. The Raiders signed him Tuesday night to a one-year contract reportedly worth up to $5 million, less than 24 hours after he was released.

A Guenther-Burfict reunion seemed inevitable because of the veteran’s expertise running the coordinator's defensive scheme and a clear bond on and off the field.

Player and coach have a close relationship dating to Burfict’s rookie season in Cincinnati. Guenther was Burfict's position coach in 2012, and the two fostered a strong working relationship during a long-night cram session before a Sept. 23 game against Washington. Thomas Howard hurt his knee, Burfict recalled, and Guenther told him he would start and play out of position. Burfict was a middle linebacker by trade, but the Bengals needed him on the outside.

“It was like 8 p.m., and he took his time out to set the trash cans up and go through the whole playbook over like two hours with me,” Burfict said in a conference call after he signed with the Raiders. “I got like nine tackles that game, and I just looked at him and said, ‘I appreciate that. You took your time out when you could’ve just gone home.' Ever since then, it has been a close relationship to where I know his kids and his wife. We go out to dinner. It’s a good time to have a good relationship like that with a coach.”

That should help Guenther’s system run smoothly, an important factor with so much youth on defense. Burfict can be an on-field coordinator if he can stay healthy and out of trouble with the NFL.

Burfict said he’s fully fit after concussion problems last season and health issues in recent years. The NFL has disciplined him several times for vicious, illegal after-the-whistle hits that some consider dirty. That includes a nasty blow dropped on former Steelers receiver and new Raiders teammate Antonio Brown that generated plenty of negative press.

[RELATED: Watch AB's hype video that's sure to fire up Raiders fans]

Burfict doesn’t consider his style poor form.

“I’m not a dirty player,” Burfict said. “I play a physical position at middle linebacker. I can’t go in there playing patty-cake. If I do that, I’m going to get run over. I have 300-plus-pound linemen coming in trying to block me. If I play soft, I’m not doing my job. … I play a physical position where I have to put my jockstrap on right, put my cleats on right and be ready to play physical.”

Mike Mayock's thought on Raiders' last three first-round draft picks

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USATSI

Mike Mayock's thought on Raiders' last three first-round draft picks

Mike Mayock is one of the most respected minds in the NFL Draft community.

When he was a draft analyst for NFL Network, his word was gospel. Now, the Raiders get to benefit from his wisdom.

So, what did Mayock think of the Raiders last three first-round drafts? We're glad you asked.

In 2016, the Raiders selected West Virginia safety Karl Joseph with the No. 14 overall pick. He struggled during his first two seasons, but 2018 was seen as a breakout campaign for the 25-year-old.

Here's what Mayock wrote about Joseph when the 2016 NFL draft had concluded:

"With his range, toughness and ability to drop down in the slot and cover man, he's like a poor man's Earl Thomas. He says he models his game after Brian Dawkins. Some say he's much like Bob Sanders. This is a dynamic playmaker."

Joseph certainly hasn't lived up to the Earl Thomas comparison. Thomas is a three-time First Team All-Pro. After three seasons, Joseph isn't at that level yet.

The next year, the Raiders addressed the secondary again, picking Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley at No. 24. It was a risky pick due to the baggage that came along with Conley. Just before the draft, he was accused of rape.

Injuries cost him most of his rookie campaign, but Conley played in 15 games in 2018, and finished with three interceptions and 37 total tackles.

At the time, Mayock focused on Conley's legal troubles when he wrote this:

"You can't make that pick and be wrong because your owner is gonna hold you accountable for it if this kid ends up with any kind of jail time."

Two years later, Reggie McKenzie is out as general manager.

Last year, the Raiders wanted Mike McGlinchey at No. 10, but the 49ers snagged him at No. 9. So Oakland traded the No. 10 pick to Arizona No. 15 and two later picks. They used the No. 15 pick to select UCLA offensive lineman Kolton Miller.

Miller had his ups and downs during the 2018 season. At one point late in the season, he was leading the league in sacks allowed. But big things are still expected from him, and some pressure will taken off Miller with the addition of high-priced free agent Trent Brown.

Here's what Mayock wrote about Miller at this time last year.

"They get the No. 2 offensive tackle in this draft to put behind Donald Penn, the incumbent left tackle. He can start on the right side. He only answered the bell 23 times in three years. Durability is a concern."

[RELATED: Mock draft has Raiders trading up for a QB]

Miller erased any concern about his durability by starting all 16 games as a rookie.

Now, instead of critiquing the Raiders draft class, Mayock is in charge picking the players others will critique.

NFL.com mock draft has Raiders trading up to No. 2 for ... a quarterback

NFL.com mock draft has Raiders trading up to No. 2 for ... a quarterback

The 2019 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and we hope you've soaked in as many mocks as you can possibly handle. If not, how about a game-changing one?

NFL.com's Chad Reuter's devised a mock that had some "selections that may be off the beaten path." Basically, a mock that would shake things up -- which we love.

This included five first-round trades, one of which has the Raiders projected to move up to take ...  a quarterback.

"Projected trade with the 49ers. Jon Gruden gets his quarterback [Drew Lock] by moving up two spots," Reuter writes. "Gruden coached Lock at the Senior Bowl, and it's easy to see him appreciating the former Missouri quarterback's demeanor and physical tools. If he doesn't move up to get him, Miami or Denver could make a deal with the Jets to land the Mizzou QB."

The Raiders, as you know, have Derek Carr pegged as the starter next season, but newly hired general manager Mike Mayock mentioned that as much as they love Carr, the team is "going to do all of their due diligence." They complimented the three-time Pro-Bowler, but Mayock made it clear that at that position, and every other position if they found someone they liked better and "had bigger upside," then they would do what they need to do.

[RELATED: Raiders send scouts home over lack of trust]

It was also reported the Raiders are "super impressed" with Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

All moves appear to be on the table.