INDIANAPOLIS -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen resists the notion that the NFL scouting combine is somehow less important to his team because they currently have only two picks in the upcoming draft.

"I told the coaching staff the most important thing we can be doing right now is picking players, and making sure we've got the right guys on our team," Allen said. "The offensive scheme, the defensive scheme, that's going to take care of itself."

Oakland has picks in the fifth and sixth rounds of the draft, having traded away the rest, but will receive a compensatory pick or picks next month based on the loss of free agents such as cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, tight end Zach Miller and left guard Robert Gallery.

The Raiders are in the initial stages of college scouting, with Allen taking the better part of his first two weeks on the job completing a coaching staff. He's been living out of an Alameda hotel room, not to be joined by his family until his 7-year-old son completes his first Communion.

Allen flew under the radar to an extent, with the majority of the media flocking to Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III at a different podium.

Allen handled himself like a veteran head coach, talking in generalities about his vision for the future andkeeping schematic specifics close to the vest while general manager Reggie McKenzie sorts through contract issues with players such as Kamerion Wimbley, Michael Huff and Aaron Curry who contribute to a reported $11 million salary cap overage.


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Allen is in lockstep with McKenzie's view of the combine as a valuable place to judge athletic ability and get personal and medical information, without attaching too much significance to a hundredth of a second in the 40-yard dash.

"If you've got two guys who are about the same football playing-wise, when you look at the tape, let's take the faster guy," Allen said. "But we're not going to take guys just because they are real fast because that doesn't correlate to being a good football player.''

In his first meeting with the media since his introductory news conference Jan. 30, Allen promised that new schemes on both sides of the ball would be tailored to suit the talent on hand.

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's offense, Allen said, would fit nicely with quarterback Carson Palmer in the same way Matt Schaub ran a similar offense with the Houston Texans.

Allen also thought running back Darren McFadden, who missed the last nine games of the season with a severe mid-foot sprain, would flourish in a system that will include heavy doses of zone blocking.

When healthy, McFadden's numbers took off when coach Hue Jackson instituted more gap and power blocking in place of Tom Cable's zone blocking system.

"When you look at the running games that Greg's been a part of, they've all been very successful, with a lot of different styles of runners," Allen said.

McFadden, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and wide receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) are all healthy, Allen said.

Allen also discussed defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, a surprise hire in that he had been a co-coordinator at Stanford after being a 49ers assistant for nine seasons.

"When I interviewed Jason, there was no doubt in my mind that this is a guy who had answers for everything," Allen said.

The Raiders meet for the first time as a team on April 2, the first day a new coach can be on the field with his team.

  • Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, a defensive backs coach on Norv Turner's staff in Oakland in 2005-06, will remember the words of his former boss, who liked his team to be fast and look good coming off the bus.

    "One thing I learned from (Al) Davis, spending some time in Oakland, it's a big man's game," Pagano said. "We'll look at everyone and when we need to get bigger, we'll get bigger."

  • Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, the 28-year-old ex-minor league baseball player who threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns to beat Stanford 41-38 in overtime in the Fiesta Bowl, looks at his age as an advantage of sorts.

    "I've already been a pro. That's what I've been telling teams, and they agree with me," Weeden said. "In baseball, it's a game of failure. I've failed and I've had some success, and I've kind of ridden that roller coaster."