Oakland Raiders 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis
Although a new era in Oakland has begun, it's going to start slow, at least as far as the 2012 NFL draft is concerned.
Thanks to a series of deals since last year's draft, the wheeling-and-dealing Raiders now face the reality of what happens when you ship out your first three selections. For sure, Oakland is going to be more of a spectator than participant in this year's draft, not owning a selection until the end of the third round with the 95th-overall pick.
And that's not the only challenge Oakland faces during this year's selection show.
This is the first draft without Al Davis since 1962, and new general manager Reggie McKenzie and new coach Dennis Allen have their work cut out for them with only five picks total in this year's event.
Keep it here for the most comprehensive coverage and real-time analysis of each of Oakland's picks from start to finish in this year's NFL draft.
Oakland Raiders Draft Overview
Even though general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen are Oakland rookies, we're not going to let them off the hook here.
The new Raider regime is going to be evaluated based on what they do with those picks and they'll receive some grades on their selections, so keep checking back here often for updates, analysis and information throughout the three-day event.
Below is a breakdown of when the Raiders' five picks hit the board. Keep in mind that the first three selections are compensatory picks, which means they can't be traded away. Only one of the picks in the fifth along with the lone sixth-round selection are originally Oakland's.
Round 3, Pick 32 (95th Overall): Tony Bergstrom, OT, Utah
Round 4, Pick 34 (129th Overall): Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
Round 5, Pick 23 (158th Overall, From Detroit): Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
Round 5, Pick 33 (168th Overall): Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Round 6, Pick 19 (189th Overall): Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State
Round 7, Pick 23 (230th Overall, From Detroit): Nathan Stupar, OLB, Penn State
Round 3, Pick 32: Tony Bergstrom, OT, Utah
It seems the Raiders are rebuilding—perhaps, even with attitudes.
Oakland finally got on the board with a pick in this year's draft by selecting Utah offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom.
The three-year Utah starter doesn't exactly fit the image of a Raider—Bergstrom is slightly older and more mature after being away on a religious mission for two years—perhaps trying to show a commitment to cleaning up mostly on-field disciplinary issues.
The 6-5, 315-pound Bergstrom has been a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, as well as a second-team All-MWC pick his junior year.
STRENGTHS: In addition to his age and maturity, Bergstrom has sound technique and showcases good enough overall movement and footwork.
What the big man lacks in physical strength he makes up for with positional intelligence.
WEAKNESSES: As mentioned, Bergstrom's not the strongest OT in the draft, especially for his size. He lacks explosiveness and is often too reactive, which can prove painful to an unsuspecting quarterback with the speed of rushers in the NFL.
Although Bergstrom is an interesting pick, and perhaps frustrating to some fans of Raider Nation who waited patiently for nearly two full days of drafting to see their team draft on O-lineman without much of a recognizable name, it's possible this mature and fundamentally sound pick could pay off down the road—especially if they can get him in the Raider weight room as soon as possible.
Round 4, Pick 34: Miles Burris, LB, San Diego State
Not projected to go by many until the sixth or seventh round, the Oakland pick of Miles Burris is an interesting one.
It seems that the Raiders, whether on purpose or unintentionally, have used their first two picks on guys who are heady, intelligent and controlled players that might seem to indicate a focus on revamping Oakland's recent costly on-field miscues and excessive penalties.
And Burris has the positional intellect and instincts at the outside linebacker position that coaches like.
Burris was selected as a first-team All-MWC linebacker for two-straight years. In 2011, Burris led the Aztecs in tackles, sacks, tackles-for-loss and fumble recoveries.
He was a three time MWC all-academic selection and was the 2010 Aztec Student Athlete-of-the-Year.
STRENGTHS: At 6-2, 246 pounds, Burris is a powerful and fast outside linebacker who gets all over the field. He needs a little work in pursuit and angles to the football, but that's an easy, coachable fix at the next level. He can also get around the corner and get to the quarterback. He understands how to use technique and leverage to beat those he can't overpower.
As he develops into an NFL-caliber OLB/DE, look for Burris to be a standout on special teams immediately for the Raiders.
WEAKNESSES: Covering NFL tight ends and/or receivers will be challenging for Burris early on when asked to drop back into coverage.
Gonna have to work on his reads of NFL offenses as he develops. Could also hit the weight room for some additional upper body strength.
The only thing strange about this pick is the timing of it, as most experts had Burris going in later rounds. But this is the kind of player that Oakland can coach into being a star at the next level if given the time to do so.
Round 5, Pick 23 (From Detroit): Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
Penn State's Jack Crawford is a bit of a late bloomer, having only played organized football for five years after moving to the United States from England.
But Crawford's limited experience in American football has been successful, as he was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2011.
Crawford was a three-year starter for Penn State, the 6-5, 275 pounder amassed 40 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 6 pass breakups in 2011.
STRENGTHS: His aforementioned size is nearly ideal for an NFL rush end. Crawford's success at Penn State was in large part due to his long frame and being in the right place at the right time. Once he learns the position even better, he could be a strong starter at the NFL level.
If he can get to a point where his skill set can match his athletic ability, he could be standout in the NFC West for the Raiders.
WEAKNESSES: Crawford's lack of experience is apparent at times. He's raw and is widely considered a developmental pick. He has yet to grasp the intellectual nuances of the game and has trouble reading offensive schemes. This often times makes him become a reactionary player, which can be challenging at the professional level.
Though limited in experience, the fact that he learned, and eventually excelled in a powerhouse conference like the Big Ten, which funnels many-an-offensive linemen to the NFL, bodes well for Crawford's ability to compete on Sundays from an athletic standpoint. If the Raiders can commit to teaching this kid technique, with his ideal size, he could be a great bookend for Oakland for years to come.
Round 5, Pick 33: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Arizona wideout Juron Criner is a polished and decorated wide receiver from the Pac-12 Conference.
Following his senior season in 2011, which saw the 6-3, 225-pound wideout grab 75 passes for 956 yards and 11 scores, Criner was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection. The previous year, Criner caught 82 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to being named to the all-conference first team.
STRENGTHS: Criner is great at going up and getting the ball, especially in coverage. He has great hands and finds a way to get to the ball, even out-muscling defenders to make the catch.
He's got a natural wide receiver skill set and runs great routes and is able to find holes in zone defenses, and he's a strong blocker.
WEAKNESSES: Criner isn't the fastest wide receiver in this year's draft field, and his lack of quickness means he's going to have to learn to be creative in how he gets open, especially with bigger, stronger, faster corners in the NFL.
Criner's got the skill set of an experienced and accomplished receiver. If he can become consistent and show up every day, as well as learn to overcome for a lack of speed by being creative and crafty, this could end up being a late-round steal for the Raiders.
At minimum, Criner gives Oakland instant depth at the wideout position, and could also be used on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 19: Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State
Outside of Georgia, very little is known about defensive end Christo Bilukidi, which naturally makes it feel as a somewhat of a risky pick for the Raiders, even if it is in the sixth round.
But at 6-5, 290 pounds, Bilukidi has an ideal defensive end frame, and the Raiders saw something in this guy to make him the 189th overall pick of this year's draft.
For the last two seasons, Bilukidi led the Panthers in sacks and tackles for loss, spending a little bit of time at defensive end and tackle.
STRENGTHS: Big, strong build and positional versatility with the ability to play different spots along the defensive line.
WEAKNESSES: Comes from an obviously smaller school and has faced lessor competition. As a result, has no real big-game experience, which puts him behind, developmentally, average players from power conferences.
Yes, it's the sixth round, so it's a time to take some chances. But with quality players with big-game experience from larger conferences still available, it's hard to justify this pick—especially for a team with such a limited amount of selections that needs to make each pick count.
Really a head-scratching pick by the Raiders. On the plus side, if it works, general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen look like geniuses. If it doesn't, well, it was a sixth-round pick.
Round 7, Pick 23 (From Detroit): Nathan Stupar, OLB, Penn State
It appears that after a questionable sixth-round pick, the Raiders decision-makers redeemed themselves with a solid, smart selection with their seventh-round get of Penn State linebacker Nate Stupar.
By most accounts, Stupar is a solid all-around football player. The 6-2, 240-pound Stupar was a 2011 honorable mention All-Big Ten selection after accumulating 80 tackles, 5.5 for loss with a pair each of sacks and interceptions during his senior season.
In 2010, Stupar found himself in the starting lineup about half the time, and was used sparingly in each of his first two years in State College, primarily on special teams standout and backup linebacker.
STRENGTHS: Lining up with what seemed like a central theme early in the draft for Oakland, Stupar is a smart football player with sound fundamentals and great positional intelligence. He has better-than-average athleticism, which is plenty for him considering his football smarts puts him the right positions to make plays. Decent, but not overwhelming, pass rusher.
Will likely be an instant contributor to special teams, showcasing his good motor.
WEAKNESSES: A little bit undersized for his position, especially at the professional level, Stupar will have to bulk up to find the field on Sundays. Additionally, since he was never a long-term starter, he's still a little inexperienced in the big-game situations.
This wasn't a terrible pick for this late in the draft, and could contribute in a variety of ways for the Raiders. Additionally, he's not the kind of guy that comes with character issues or that will get the team in trouble on the field either.