When Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen came to the Raiders organization earlier this year, one thing was already apparent to them: this was not going to be the Year of the Draft for the Oakland Raiders. Through various trades and questionable exchanges, the Raiders dwindled down their 2012 draft picks to just about nothing that could be worked with: a pick in the fifth round, and a pick in the sixth...zip, zilch, nada. Comedic ways of saying 'zero' aside, the Raiders did get some good players for their picks, and will receive compensatory picks as well, which I'm sure will be put to good use, given what little McKenzie and Allen have to work with. Here are some ways the Raiders could get talented players, without giving up much, and putting to use what they have.
While the Raiders don't have much, there should be several valuable players on-board when their original draft picks roll around, somewhere late in Day Three of the Draft. Two players I really would like for the Raiders to pick-up are both linebackers that are raw talent that could flourish if coached and given time to develop.
The first is Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis, a strong and smart OLB that has 431 tackles throughout his career at OSU — the fourth all-time. He plays well in pass coverage, but isn't afraid to smash through the guard/tackle if called in for the pass rush. Often praised for his leadership, I could easily see the Raiders nabbing him if he's still on the board when they get their first pick. (If he falls to the fifth, the Raiders could use this pick; if not, one of their compensatory picks should definitely be used for Lewis).
The second is USC LB Chris Galippo, a big and physical player; he has great pass rushing abilities. While he is somewhat lacking in lateral movement and slower to drop for coverage, he is still a big LB, and could help with the Raiders' run-stuffing issues. Racking up 47 tackles in the 2011 season, I hope the Raiders take a good look at him if he's still on the board in the fifth round.
Still on Day Three, I think it would be good for the Raiders to pick up another outside lineman, given the shakiness at RT. While the perspective new tackle probably wouldn't start, he would be a developmental player, and one who could potentially fill in or start two to three years down the line.
One lineman I really like who has been sliding due to injury is Florida State RT Andrew Datko. Datko is a big 6'6", 315 lb. monster, who displays surprising jump off the line and downfield effectiveness for his size. Although he was slowed his senior year by injury and resulting surgeries, his slide could be to the Raider's benefit. Characterized as an outstanding worker, if he joined the Silver and Black — with some coaching — he could be very effective in a very short time. I'm hoping to still see him on the board when the Raider's fifth or sixth round picks roll around on day three.
With the Raiders clinging to only two of their original seven NFL-given draft picks, they will receive some help from compensatory picks that were garnered when Raiders let stars such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, and Robert Gallery sign with other teams. While it's tough to tell when the picks will be, here are some players I think are worth a look:
MID FOURTH ROUND PICK
Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa — With this pick probably coming from the loss of Asomugha, I figured it would be good for the Raiders to try and get another cornerback with the pick, in order to add to the stockpile. Prater, at 5'10'', 190lbs. is a good size corner, who displays good physicality and aggressive tackling for his size. He is good in zone coverage, but needs work on his press-man coverage, and has to avoid drifting in his zone. I like him here because the Raiders need young talent to develop in the secondary and he seems like a worthy prospect with his solid numbers and high ceiling.
LATE FOURTH ROUND PICK
Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State — This pick would most likely come from the loss of Miller. With the Raiders most likely losing Michael Bush to free agency, I feel they need a big, goal line-type back to replace him. Ballard, at 5'10'', weighing in at 219lbs, would be just the man for the job. A battering ram-type back, he isn't very dynamic to the outside, and would probably only see dive or option plays. However, he will, without a doubt, take these and run (no pun intended); with a strong powerful lower body, he could easily be very effective as a powerful, inside-the-tackles runner to back up McFadden.
EARLY FIFTH ROUND PICK
Malik Jackson, DL, Tennessee — The pick would come from the loss of Gallery. I know some might balk at the fact I'm suggesting the Raiders take a defensive lineman in the draft, but hear me out on this one, Raider Nation. Racking up over 50 tackles as a senior, with 11 for a loss, he is very quick and agile for his large frame — at 6'5'', 284lbs. I like him because he could dominate as a rotational pass rusher, and bringing him in on third down could reek havoc on opposing offensive lines and, hopefully, quarter and running backs. While he sometimes is caught out of position and doesn't always gain good leverage, I hope the Raiders take a chance on him, because I could really see him making an impact
These are my suggestions/predictions for the Raiders to maximize the value out of the draft. I hope you enjoyed the read, and check my page for more updates on the draft.
(All scouting Information from CBS.com)