ALAMEDA — In February during the NFL combine in Indianapolis, the questions kept coming fast and hard at Georgia's 6-foot-5, 261-pound defensive end Quentin Moses.

Have you played linebacker? Can you drop into coverage? If your future is at defensive end, can you add weight?

They were unsettling questions to a player who had gone from 111/2 sacks in 2005 to 41/2 in 2006 and by his own admission, had found it "humbling."

"At the collegiate level, all that I've played is defensive end, so I would be more comfortable (there) early on," he told his questioners.

Two months later, when it came time to go through the NFL draft, Moses got his wish. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the third round with the 65th pick. They have him billeted for their right end spot, not linebacker.

From the Raiders' vantage point, they already had been there, done that, and were done with the notion of experimenting with oversized defensive ends playing linebacker.

That experiment had taken place during the Raiders' 2005 season. Their starting outside linebackers at the beginning were defensive ends — Tyler Brayton (6-6, 280) and Grant Irons (6-6, 285).

It was quite a gamble, and it didn't work. Brayton soon was back starting at defensive right end, and Irons was a hybrid situational player but a non-starter.

After suffering a back injury, Irons became a free agent this offseason. The Raiders chose to not re-sign him.


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Brayton arrived at this weekend's mandatory camp and discovered he had a new assignment — at defensive tackle.

And now it appears clear that, barring the unexpected, Moses has dangling before him a potential home at Brayton's old right end spot in the base defense.

For now, no more linebacker talk. The call he got from the Raiders was more like the realization of a dream.

"It was just excitement, joy," Moses said. "The first thing that popped into my mind were (Warren) Sapp and (Derrick) Burgess, two of the best defensive linemen in the league.

"I'm still taking it all in. You can't believe you are actually out there beside a Super Bowl champion and a Pro Bowler. It's overwhelming."

Burgess has recorded 271/2 sacks over the last two seasons. Last year, the right end, Brayton, did not have one.

"I think the coaches liked me because I had some quickness throughout college and got to the quarterback some," Moses said. "I think they saw an opportunity here for a young player they can coach up and will be able to help this team out. I am still learning right now."

Being on the opposite side of Burgess, who draws attention from an offensive line that tends to slide his way, could be a major tactical advantage for a young player such as Moses. Right now, though, Moses is just fascinated as he watches Burgess, whose well-earned nickname is "Smoove," do his thing.

"There is so much you can learn from that guy," Moses said. "Every day you try to figure out how he does it. He makes it look so easy. I couldn't have been more blessed to have an opportunity to be around guys like Sapp and Burgess."

Moses' draft stock fell precipitously his senior year after his sack total fell off.

"That happens sometimes," coach Lane Kiffin said. "With great pass rushers, that happens because they go into the year (as) preseason All-Americans, and all the focus is on them. Now, all of a sudden, they get double teams, get a back chipping on them.

"Nothing's changed. He didn't all of a sudden get slow. He has a very, very good ability to pass rush, and very good moves against tackles. We're excited about him."

While Moses' stats fell off, teammate Charles Johnson benefited and became the hot Georgia defensive end during the combine. Moses listened while the talk roiled around him, that Johnson had passed him on many draft boards.

Moses listened, and instead of complaining, gushed about his Bulldog teammate, who had 91/2 sacks last year. 

"I was telling people all the time that Charles may be, if not better, definitely just as good ... as I am up and down the board," Moses said. "I'm happy for him he went out and had the season he had. It was destined to happen with his ability."

The Raiders preferred Moses, whose credentials include having been an academic All-American.

"He was a guy we had rated much higher than that (third round, 65th pick), and it was a position of need. It was a position we had targeted that we had to get and wanted to get it done the first day," Kiffin said.

Johnson went to Carolina 18 picks after Oakland took Moses.

NOTES: Running backs Michael Bush (leg) and Justin Fargas (shoulder), fullback Justin Griffith (ankle), tight end Tony Stewart (heel) and center Adam Treu (quadriceps) did not practice for the second straight day. Wide receiver Carlos Francis (leg) returned to practice after getting hurt in practice Friday night. Receivers Mike Williams (hamstring) and Johnathan Holland (shoulder) did not practice as a result of injuries they sustained Friday. ... Tyler Brayton is working at defensive tackle after spending last season as the starting right defensive end. Kevin Huntley and Moses are taking snaps at right end with the first-team defense. ... Rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell opened some eyes with a 20-yard pass to receiver Jerry Porter that hit Porter in the chest, made a loud sound and almost knocked over the 225-pound player. Kiffin said Russell looked more relaxed Saturday than he did during his Raiders debut Friday.

MediaNews staff writer Steve Corkran contributed to this report.