Oakland Raiders: Reviewing Their 2012 NFL Draft
The Raiders were the only team in the 2012 NFL draft to receive a third-round compensatory selection, as a result of the loss of star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency. They were lucky that the NFL granted them this selection, or they would have had no selections on either of the first two days of the draft.
The Raiders actually received compensatory selections in each of the third, fourth and fifth rounds, but came into the draft without five of their seven original draft picks, including their picks from each of the first four rounds.
Did the Raiders take advantage of the selections they were granted, or will the success or failure of their 2012 draft picks be completely rooted in the trades they had already made? Read through the following slides to find out.
Evaluating the Picks
Round 3, Pick 95 (compensatory selection): Tony Bergstrom, G/OT, Utah
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 94
Bergstrom is a well-rounded offensive lineman who brings much needed versatility to the Raiders. He does not have the feet to continue playing left tackle, the position he played at Utah, but he is a good candidate to kick inside to guard and could also play right tackle.
He is not dominant in any facet, but should provide depth on the offensive line and could end up as a solid starter.
Round 4, Pick 129 (compensatory selection): Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 286
Burris is a solid tackler who drops back into coverage well and is an athletic linebacker. Burris’s stock rose in a strong senior season, highlighted by 19.5 tackles for loss.
He does not stand out in any singular aspect, but he is an intriguing talent who I may have underrated. He should at least be a very solid contributor on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 158: Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 234
Crawford’s stock was hurt in March when he was arrested in a drug bust, but the Raiders decided to take a chance on him in Round 5. He is a big, talented defensive end who is very effective against the run.
He is not a great pass-rusher, but he could be a very effective asset on the Raiders against the run if he overcomes his off-field issues.
Round 5, Pick 168 (compensatory selection): Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 63
Criner is a big, strong and physical wideout. He has a serious lack of speed, but he makes up for it with great verticality and natural hands. He was injury prone during his collegiate career, but was consistently productive when he was healthy.
His lack of speed and durability hurt his draft stock, but he could be a terrific possession receiver.
Round 6, Pick 189: Christo Bilukidi, DE/DT, Georgia State
Overall Prospect Rank: Not in Top 400
Bilukidi has the special honor of being the first player to ever be drafted from Georgia State, whose FCS football program just began two years ago. Admittedly, Bilukidi was completely off my draft radar.
Upon evaluation of Bilukidi, he has a tremendous combination of size and athleticism, but he is an incredibly raw project. He played mostly as a stand-up defensive tackle at Georgia State, and will have adjust to being an NFL defensive lineman by learning pro techniques and adjusting to much tougher competition.
Bilukidi shows the potential to be a disruptive force on the defensive line, and has potential at both defensive tackle and defensive end with his combination of size and athletic ability. That said, the Raiders will have to be patient in honing his skills.
Round 7, Pick 230: Nathan Stupar, OLB, Penn State
Overall Prospect Rank: Not in Top 400
Stupar was a solid linebacker at Penn State, but there is nothing special about his game. He is a solid tackler but not a great athlete, and he is not much of a playmaker in getting to the backfield or at dropping into coverage.
His best chance to contribute will be on special teams.
The Raiders gave up their third-round selection for the 2012 draft to select Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft.
Pryor was selected earlier than expected in the supplemental draft when the Raiders gave up a third-round selection to draft him. Pryor never developed into a consistent pocket passer at Ohio State, and entered the supplemental draft after being suspended for his role in the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that rocked the Buckeyes football program.
That said, Pryor is a tremendous athlete who is a dual-threat quarterback with a big arm. He has tremendous upside as both a quarterback and with the potential to flex out and contribute at other positions with his overall athletic ability. Pryor may not have the mental makeup or accuracy to ever be an NFL quarterback, but he has developmental upside and should contribute to the Raiders in some capacity as long as he stays out of trouble; he has too much athletic ability not to.
Pryor has much more upside and versatility than any quarterback the Raiders could have selected with that pick in the draft, including Arizona’s Nick Foles and Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins. Therefore, this was not a bad move on their part.
Evaluating the Trades
The Raiders traded Round 1, Pick 17 along with a 2013 conditional second-round selection to the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer.
When Jason Campbell’s season ended prematurely last year to a broken collarbone, the Raiders were leading the AFC West are were in serious contention for the postseason. Due to this, they were desperate to find the best possible replacement for Campbell at quarterback, and to do so, they gave up a tremendously hefty price for Palmer.
This was a horrendous trade for the Raiders. The Raiders gave up their first-round pick in 2012, along with what will either be a first- or second-round selection in 2013 dependent upon whether they make the playoffs, for a quarterback who was not even playing for the Bengals. Palmer is a talented quarterback, but his best days are behind him and his results with the Raiders were very lukewarm last season.
If Palmer is able to return to form and lead the Raiders to the postseason, then this trade could be the right move. However, I do not see that as being likely to happen, and the Raiders could end up having vastly overpaid for an average or below-average starting quarterback.
The Raiders traded Round 2, Pick 48 and their seventh-round selection in the 2011 NFL draft to the New England Patriots for the Patriots’ third- and fourth-round selections in the 2011 NFL draft.
The Patriots pulled off a huge steal in this trade, getting a mid-second-round selection for late third- and fourth-round draft picks. The Raiders used those selections to draft LSU offensive lineman Joseph Barksdale and Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones, neither of whom contributed much as rookies.
Barksdale could end up as a starter on the offensive line this season, while Jones is a dynamic athlete at running back who has potential to be a dangerous factor on the offense. That said, the Raiders should not have bothered making this trade.
The Raiders traded Round 4, Pick 109 to the Washington Redskins in April 2010 for quarterback Jason Campbell.
Campbell had some very bright moments as the quarterback of the Raiders, but his time with the team came to an early end when he broke his collarbone last season. After that, he was replaced by Palmer and was not re-signed by the team this offseason, leaving him to sign with the Chicago Bears as a backup.
That said, the Raiders got a quality starting quarterback for slightly more than a year out of Campbell. They would have been unlikely to find a starting-caliber quarterback in Round 4, so this trade worked out well.
The Raiders traded Round 5, Pick 148 to the Detroit Lions for Round 5, Pick 158 and Round 7, Pick 230.
The Raiders came into the draft with only five picks to work with, so trading back for an additional selection made tremendous sense.
The Raiders traded Round 7, Pick 225 and a 2013 conditional mid-round selection to the Seattle Seahawks for outside linebacker Aaron Curry.
Curry was a bust for the Seahawks, but he is a talented outside linebacker who is still young and is a decent starter at outside linebacker for the Raiders. The Raiders could still develop him into a very good player, and at a relatively low price, the team took a chance well worth taking by giving up two Day 3 draft picks for Curry.
With no picks until the final selection of Round 3, finding quality value on Day 3 of the draft was imperative for the Raiders. Their results were unspectacular, but they did add some quality talent.
The Raiders used their three compensatory selections well. Bergstrom was a quality selection at the end of the third round. Burris was a reach, but he is an underrated talent who could end up being a sleeper to being a quality contributor.
The Raiders’ greatest value came with their final compensatory pick in drafting Criner. Criner gets knocked for his lack of speed, but in a receiving corps defined by its speed, he can be an immediate contributor as a reliable intermediate possession wideout.
Crawford was also decent value in Round 5, as he may have been selected earlier prior to his March arrest. Bilukidi was a surprise draft selection, but he is an intriguing prospect who could end up being a steal if he is developed well.
The Raiders came into the draft with many areas of need, but they unfortunately lacked the resources to fill them. Without any picks before the final selection of the third round, the Raiders were not going to find many options to fill holes in their starting lineup.
The Raiders needed to add depth on the offensive line, especially at guard, so Bergstrom fills a hole. The Raiders also needed help at linebacker corps, an area where Burris and Stupar add depth.
The defensive line was another area of concern, which the Raiders addressed with two big and athletic linemen in Crawford and Bilukidi. Adding another wideout in Criner was also a good move for the Raiders.
Two areas of need that the Raiders were unable to address were at tight end and cornerback. However, the Raiders did a decent job of addressing needs given the lack of selections they had to work with.
The Raiders were unable to have a balanced and complete draft, because they came into the draft having already invested three of their first four original selections in three separate quarterbacks. Having traded away two of their other original picks as well, they did not have much to work with to fill holes and build up their roster.
Bergstrom could end up as an immediate starter given the lack of personnel on the Raiders offensive line, and Criner should find a way to contribute right away. The rest of the Raiders’ selections are all wild cards.
Burris, Crawford and Bilukidi all have the potential to end up being very productive players, but they are all projects with surrounding concerns who are difficult to evaluate. As a team that is turning the corner but still needs considerable roster help, the Raiders would have been better off in drafting safer talent who are more ready to contribute, but their later picks could pay off in the long term.
Of any team, the Raiders are among the toughest to grade. They added promising talent with their selections, but may not have drafted a single starter. Additionally, many of the trades that cost them draft picks are likely to backfire.
These factors both hurt the Raiders’ grade considerably.