Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Raiders Must Circle on Their 2013 NFL Draft Board
The Oakland Raiders head into Week 7 coming off a hard-fought loss to the Atlanta Falcons on the road. Despite the Raiders' best performance of the season, they were unable to get another win in the standings.
Oakland has had problems on both sides of the ball this season. Darren McFadden has struggled, and so has the entire defense.
It's pretty well set in stone that Oakland will have a favorable draft pick next year. After not having one in 2012, the Raiders have the opportunity to bring in some young talent to add to their rebuilding franchise.
Of course, it will all depend on where they pick in the draft. Let's take a look at five guys the Raiders should pay close attention to for next season.
Barkevious Mingo, LSU (DE)
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The Raiders have had a difficult time applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season long. Barkevious Mingo has the size, speed and athleticism to be a dangerous threat whenever he steps on the field.
The Raiders have only recorded four sacks through five games this year. Not only is it disappointing, it's kept them from getting their defense off the field. Mingo's ability to get after the quarterback from the outside could ease some of the pressure off Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour on the inside.
Mingo comes from LSU and plays in the best conference in the country. Not only has he succeeded, he's succeeded against the best.
Geno Smith, West Virginia (QB)
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Carson Palmer has been one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, but they need to think about the future.
Smith has been the Heisman front-runner for the last couple of weeks and has dominated college football this season. He's thrown for over 2,200 yards and 25 touchdowns, all without throwing an interception.
Though Palmer has been the most talented quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon, Smith has the skill set to be a fine replacement for him.
The only thing stopping the Raiders from drafting Smith is if another team gets him first.
David Amerson, North Carolina State (CB)
With the exception of one solid defensive performance against the Falcons, Oakland has been miserable defending the pass.
Injuries and position changes have hurt the Raiders secondary this year, but drafting the best cornerback in college football could help resolve those problems.
Amerson had an interception in three straight games for North Carolina State and recorded a season-high six tackles in the Wolfpack's upset victory over Florida State.
The Raiders came into Week 6 ranked 27th against the pass. They can only get better, right?
Star Lotulelei, Utah (DT)
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Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour have been nonexistent this year, and they aren't getting any younger.
Oakland's two interior linemen have a combined 21 years of NFL experience, and it's been evident this season as they have both failed to get any pressure on quarterbacks.
Star Lotulelei is sure to be a top-five pick in this year's draft, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Oakland with a top-five pick. At 6'3'' and 320 pounds, Lotulelei would bring size and youth to a Raiders defensive line that has been a major disappointment this season.
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame (LB)
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Notre Dame is off to its best start since 2002, and one of the main reasons is because of middle linebacker Manti Te'o.
Te'o has recorded at least 10 tackles in four out of six games so far and has been the undisputed leader of the Fighting Irish defense. He stands 6'2'' and weighs 250 pounds but has great speed that the Raiders desperately need.
He also has three interceptions this season, something the Raiders weren't familiar with until Week 6. Te'o's stock has been rising quickly, and he will be one of the hottest picks on the board once the draft rolls around.
His ability to be a team leader physically and mentally also adds to his value. The Raiders would only get better with Te'o on their defense.