Across the Pond by Dave Wilson
Tuesday, March 01 2011 @ 07:17 AM CST
Contributed by: Ore
Contributed by: Ore
An Early look At The 2011 Draft...
Given the mass of unsigned free agents on the roster until this week, it has been almost impossible to predict where the Raiders would go in the draft. But with the recent rash of signings, the picture has become much clearer.
It looked bleak for Nnamdi Asomugha returning to Oakland when Richard Seymour signed a big contract extension, but when Stanford Routt was given a three year $30 million dollar deal this week, Asomugha’s return became virtually impossible. Routt had a good season last year statistically, but he will find covering the opponent’s number one receiver instead of the number two a different business. If he can’t step up Oakland may be in trouble at corner.
With Seymour, Routt, Kamerion Wimbley, and John Henderson all now safely under contract, the Raiders can turn to the draft knowing pretty much what their veteran squad will look like this coming year. Al Davis has clearly put a high premium on keeping the players already at the club rather than bringing in free agents from other teams.
The most clear and pressing need is the offensive line.
With the move away from the zone blocking scheme, to a power blocking system, a number of linemen won’t fit. Samson Satele at center and Cooper Carlisle at right guard are pure zone players and will have to be replaced. It is also notable that Robert Gallery hasn’t been resigned at this point in time, meaning he may not return.
Whilst second year player Bruce Campbell may fill one of the guard spots, that still leaves two players to find on the interior line. Luckily this year’s draft has a number of players who could fit the bill.
Marcus Cannon – TCU. Cannon is one of the biggest players in this year’s draft, weighing in at 358lbs at the Combine. He has excellent quickness for a big man, comes from a winning program, and would fit well into what Hue Jackson is trying to do.
Stefan Wisneiwski – Penn State. Young Wiz weighed in heavier than expected at the Combine (313 lbs), and it would be a great story if the Raiders had him on the roster. An excellent technician, he was projected to go late first/early second round. The rise of other players up the draft board though means that he will probably still be there when Oakland picks in the second round.
Danny Watkins – Baylor. While Watkins played LT for Baylor, he projects inside at pro level. He is an extremely physical player who dominated competition at this year’s Senior Bowl. He will be an old rookie at age 26, and this is a factor that might see him still available in the mid second round.
Other players such as Clint Bolling (Georgia), and Ben Ijalana (Villanova) will also get consideration.
As and when Asomugha’s departure becomes official, I have no doubt that Al Davis will go after another cornerback. One benefit of Asomugha’s departure would be a high compensatory draft pick, probably a third rounder.
Oakland will not have a shot at the upper echelon corners in the draft, but may choose to go in that direction in the second round and address the offensive line later on. Joe Lefeged from Rutgers and Kendrick Burney from North Carolina were both seen speaking to Raiders staff at the Senior Bowl.
The results of the Combine always have a bearing on who the Raiders draft, and Al Davis is always looking hard and long at the fastest players there. Last year’s draft was no different. Jacoby Ford, taken in the fourth round was the most notable, but second rounder Lamarr Houston and third rounder Jared Veldheer also topped their respective positions in the speed drills.
Stanford Routt was also the fastest corner at the combine. Darrius Heyward Bey, Louis Murphy, Tyvon Branch, and Darren McFadden all had top level speed.
So whoever the fastest players are at the Combine, they have a good chance of being Oakland Raiders on draft day.
Keep those e mails coming.
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