NFL Draft Grades 2012: Who Will Have the Biggest Impact for Oakland Raiders?
Strapped with only five picks, the Raiders were able to find some value in the middle rounds. They turned one pick into two and ended with six total players.
The Raiders drafted Tony Bergstrom and Juron Criner on offense. They added depth to their defense with selections of Miles Burris, Jack Crawford, Christo Bilukidi and Nathan Stupar.
All these players have potential to make an impact in 2012, but let's see who will have the biggest impact.
6. DT Christo Bilukidi: Georgia State
Christo Bilukidi is an unknown who played for the little-known Georgia State. In fact, Bilukidi was the first player ever to be drafted from Georgia State.
When scouts look at small schools, they look for the ability to dominant. Bilukidi was not always the most dominant, but he was pretty darn good at times.
As a senior, Bilukidi had 38 tackles, five sacks and nine tackles for a loss.
At 6'5" and 290 pounds, Bilukidi is a lot like Lamarr Houston. Both played defensive tackle, but have the pass rush ability to play outside on defensive end.
The reason I put Bilukidi last on this list because of his position. At defensive tackle, the Raiders already have Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour. On passing situations, if those two come out, Desmond Bryant will come in and have an impact.
Bilukidi has the potential to have an impact, but he will struggle to find playing time unless he absolutely tears it up in training camp.
5. DE Jack Crawford: Penn State
I like Jack Crawford a lot. I first learned about him a few years ago, but mistook him for Charlie Villanueva. Recently, as a part of my draft wish list series, I watched nearly all of Penn State's games. Two players on the defensive line stood out: Devon Still and Jack Crawford.
Crawford has the typical size you look for in a 4-3 defensive end, but he only started to play football as a junior in high school. Growing up in London did not expose Crawford to American football.
However, in just two years, Crawford was able to play well enough to get the attention of some of the best college football programs, including Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan.
Crawford is a hard-working player who is still raw and has a lot to learn. However, I do not see Crawford making much of an impact this season for the same reason as Bilukidi.
The Raider's defense is going to be a complicated one under Dennis Allen. Most of the time, Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy will be the primary defensive ends.
Desmond Bryant received significant playing time at defensive end and the Raiders drafted Miles Burris in the fourth round. Both are rookies, but Burris is much more polished at this point in his career.
That's not to say Crawford won't receive playing time at all, but it will definitely be sporadic.
4. LB Nathan Stupar: Penn State
The Raiders desperately need depth. In the fourth round, they selected linebacker Miles Burris, but Burris is more of a pass-rushing specialist than a true linebacker right now. Burris does a lot of things very well, but don't expect him to do more than just pass rush as a rookie.
Nathan Stupar is a typical Penn State linebacker. He is a good player who is consistent and a technician. He is not the fastest, but once he gets his hands on a ball carrier, the result is almost always a tackle.
Like many Nittany Lions before him, he is a smart player with great fundamentals. He has the ability to rush the passer, recording two sacks each in the past two seasons, and can get behind the line of scrimmage, recording 12 total in the last two seasons.
For the Raiders, Stupar will have the biggest impact on special teams at first. He should receive much more playing time as the season continues. He can play outside and inside, which helps his cause since the Raiders still lack depth at both positions.
3. WR Juron Criner: Arizona
Juron Criner is a perfect pick for the Oakland Raiders. As a team who has loaded up on speedy receivers, they were lacking a possession receiver who could move the chains and run the short-to-intermediate routes over the middle.
Criner is a player who can do just that. He has good size and decent speed, but his hands and physicality are what put him above other mid-round rookies.
At Arizona, Criner had over 2,500 career receiving yards, including a 1,200-yard campaign as a junior in 2010. He also has a nose for the end zone; he caught 11 touchdowns in each of his last two years. He also caught nine as a sophomore on just 45 catches.
Criner's situation with the Raiders is a bit hard to judge. The old regime, as we all know, loved the fast players. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Denarius Moore are prime examples.
Heyward-Bey had a big season in 2011 and is projected to be a starter. Moore is the most polished of all receivers and will most likely start as well.
That leaves Criner, Ford, Murphy and the free agent Duke Calhoun. Ford and Murphy are players who does not have a huge impact in each game, but once the defense starts to sleep on them for a second, they make the big play that makes you say, "Why don't they do that more often?"
Criner is the most physical receiver out of the bunch and is the one who fits that possession-type build, but with a crowded group of receivers, it's hard to judge how much time Criner will receive.
2. OG Tony Bergstrom: Utah
Tony Bergstrom can be a player who has a big impact. To do so, he has to quickly learn the offensive system, which is a tough one to learn, and beat out Cooper Carlisle, who has a lot of experience in both the NFL and in this particular system.
If Bergstrom can do those two things, he will be the undisputed starter at left guard and go on to do great things. If not, then he will likely sit on the bench for his entire rookie season.
Cooper Carlisle has started over the years—despite competing against younger players such as Bruce Campbell and Stephon Heyer.
But Bergstrom is a better player than both of those two. He is not as physically talented as Campbell, but really, who is? Campbell could have played tight end or fullback if he wanted.
Wouldn't that have been fun to watch? A 300-pound offensive lineman with 4.85 speed clearing the way for McFadden and Bush.
But on a serious note, Bergstrom is a good player and is smart. Repeating what I said earlier, he can have a big impact, but it all depends on whether or not he starts.
1. LB Miles Burris: San Diego State
There are a lot of reasons why I like Miles Burris. Putting my San Diego State bias aside, Burris is a great player.
The first thing I saw when I watched the tape on Burris was that he has a motor. There was one play where he was dropping back into coverage and was about 10 yards away from the receiver. He is a linebacker, but ran down the wide receiver and forced the fumble.
Talk about a motor.
With the Raiders, Burris will be the Raiders' primary pass rusher on passing downs. While some think he will play like Von Miller, I think a comparison to Aldon Smith is a better fit.
Burris is not as polished as Smith, but he shares two of the same attributes: a wide range of pass-rushing ability and a non-stop motor.
Getting to the quarterback is one thing. Burris is a player who can have a big impact because pressuring the quarterback and passing defense go hand in hand.
If the quarterback has more time to look downfield, there is more of a chance that receivers will get open. Look at the two games against the Chargers in 2011. On Thursday night, the Raiders demolished Rivers and he was clearly shaken. In week 17, he was barely touched and scorched the Raider defense to end our playoff hopes.
Each of these players will have an impact in 2012, and that's exactly why they were drafted. Reggie McKenzie made it clear that he wanted football players who love the game, and every one of these picks fill that mold.
I'd like to welcome every one of these players to the Silver and Black. Here's to a great season!