Across the Pond by Dave Wilson
Monday, April 18 2011 @ 06:44 AM CDT
Contributed by: Ore
Contributed by: Ore
When it comes to this yearís draft, Oakland is without a first round pick, but is actually in a stronger position than it may at first seem. Oakland hasnít really done that well with first round picks over the last ten years anyway.
The Raiders have less areas of need than in previous years, although they have some fairly acute ones. Those positions where the Raiders do actually need new blood are fairly well stocked with this yearís rookie crop.
As a list of positional needs, it goes like this. Offensive Line: With the departure of Robert Gallery, Oaklandís line loses a key player. With the move from a zone blocking scheme to more of a power scheme, we have also likely seen the last of right guard Cooper Carlilse. Whilst re signed Daniel Loper did a good job filling in for Gallery last year, that really only leave untested Bruce Campbell at the other guard spot. That is a big question mark with the interior line, even without debating whether Samson Satele can continue to man the center position. With the skill players mostly set, any improvement in the offense needs to focus on the offensive line.
When you consider the elite defensive line talent in this draft, and that Denver, San Diego, and Kansas City may all strengthen their defensive fronts with that talent in the first round, it has to make the offensive line even more of a priority. Thankfully, there is good strength in depth here on the interior line.
When Hue Jackson said that Ďwanted to build a bullyí as the Raiders coach, you know that he has a certain type of player in mind. Iím guessing Mike Pouncey will be gone by the time the Raiders pick. In the second round, Danny Watkins from Baylor is a mauler, and a top guard prospect who had an outstanding Senior Bowl. Some mock drafts have him at the top of round one, but 26 year old guards donít get drafted in the first round for me, so he could be available at 48 when Oakland picks. He would be a great addition. Ben Ijalana from Villanova is another top prospect, and although he is a small school player, he really fits the bill in terms of a physical presence and size/speed combination. The last time the Raiders drafted out of Villanova (Howie Long), it didnít turn out too bad.
WIll Rackley is from an even smaller school (Lehigh) but has shown some real talent in the Texas v The Nation game and clearly separated himself from the other offensive linemen there. He would be a good choice in the third round and is definitely the type of aggressive, intelligent player Jackson is looking for. Jared Veldheer and Sebastian Vollmer were successful small school picks in consecutive years, why not Rackley?
Others who might get consideration are Clint Boling (Georgia), Marcus Cannon (TCU), and Stefan Wisneiwski (Penn State). Boling is competent in all areas, but might not have the physicality required for Hue Jackson. Cannon is a huge guy with good speed, but plays a little soft . As much as I would love to see Stefan Wisneiwski in silver and black, he is viewed as more of a zone blocker and may not be a fit in Oakland.
Cornerback: Cornerback is easier to predict when covering the Raiders, as the Raiders corners are always of a certain type. To play in the Raiders mainly man cover scheme, a player has to have elite speed. Every year there is a limited group of those players.
Jimmy Smith from Colarado certainly has the skills to be a man corner, and has an ideal Nnamdi Asmougha type physical makeup. He should be a first rounder, and thus out of the Raiders reach but some serious character concerns may see him slip. He has visited Oakland on his team workout schedule.
Ras-I Dowling from Virginia is another top level cover corner with the physical stature and athletic ability to be a Raider cover man, and is a high character, hardworking kid. He had a poor senior season due to injury, but if you look at tape of his junior year he was very impressive. Dowling would be a good pick in round two if you think he can stay healthy.
Chris Culliver from South Carolina (4.37 40) has that speed and the all round athletic ability to be a good pro, albeit he will need intense coaching. He also brings some value as a punt returner, and was another player who had a pre draft visit in Oakland. Culliver is a late round/day three pick.
Demarcus Van Dyke from Miami (Fla) is another player with rare speed (4.29 40) who the Raiders have worked out. He has good cover skills but is underdeveloped physically and will need time to develop. Possible a mid/late round pick.
Buster Skrine (Chattanooga) is the dark horse here. His combine time was listed at 4.43 for the 40, which came as a shock as many teams had him unofficially as comfortably sub 4.30. While he is small at 5í 9Ē and 186lbs, that hasnít stopped Al Davis before (Fabian Washington-2005). Skrine is a real competitor with a good work ethic who stood out on tape. I really think he will be a Raider on draft day, as he is exactly the type of small school gem/super athlete Al goes for.
Chimdi Checkwa from Ohio State has the height/weight/speed combination the Al Davis covets, but his lack of durability and football skills may be too much of a downside for Oakland to risk a pick on him.
Tight End: With Zach Miller still not under contract, and Brandon Myers more of a blocker than a downfield threat, it would not surprise to to see Oakland take a receiving tight end in this draft. Virgil Green of USC is hugely talented physically, and can run a 4.53 40 at 250lbs. He had a great East West Shrine game and showed he is a great deep threat receiver with good hands and strong character. You just know he is on AL Davisís wish list. Rob Housler of Florida Atlantic is possibly a more realistic choice than Green given the Raiders needs on the offensive line and at corner. Green will likely be gone by the end of round three. Housler is very similar in athletic ability and physical makeup at 6í5 and 250lbs, and if anything is even faster. He has been to Oakland for a pre draft visit, and if the Raiders take a tight end, Housler could very well be the guy.
Although the Raiders are totally random in many ways with the draft, one thing is always certain. Where you find the fastest, most athletic players, you will find Al Davis drafting them. The above group, especially the corners and tight ends, are likely going to be the group that Al Davis picks from, and as ever, I canít wait for draft day.
Keep those e mails coming.
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