The 2012 NFL season has not been very enjoyable for Oakland Raider fans. After finishing at 8-8 for two consecutive seasons, Raider fans had a lot to look forward to. However, it can't be that big of a surprise to see the team at 3-6 after nine games.
Whether management wants to say it or not, this season has been a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders. Reggie McKenzie inherited a team that was in salary cap hell. He had to get rid of players who were undeserving of their contracts and was unable to retain some key players.
One of those key players was Samson Satele, the center who went on to sign with the Indianapolis Colts. The loss of Satele resulted in the Raiders being down one interior lineman. The result is that Stefen Wisniewski is now a center, and the Raiders had to settle for the cheap Cooper Carlisle.
Unfortunately, Carlisle has little left in the tank. Raiders fans have seen this for the past couple seasons now. The thing Carlisle had going for him entering the season was that he was a veteran in the zone-blocking scheme system and shouldn't be too bad playing in between two up-and-coming blockers.
That has not played out as well as many hoped. Carlisle is a player who looks like he's playing on roller skates. I'm sure Cooper is a tremendous person, a great teammate and 100 percent undeserving of all this hate I'm constantly talking about him, but he is not an adequate professional lineman anymore.
That said, it's time for McKenzie to work his magic. Many credit him with rebuilding the Green Bay Packers and setting them up for success after the Brett Favre era. To completely turn around an Oakland Raiders team is the ultimate challenge, and it starts with the draft.
The Raiders will enter the 2013 draft with a lot of holes. To name a few: cornerback, defensive tackle, left guard, a pass-rushing specialist, right tackle and perhaps even right guard.
If you've been following my "Wish List" series, you'll know that I've already wrote articles for cornerback and a pass-rushing specialist. It's about time for us to shift our focus to the offensive side of the ball.
I've always believed that football starts up front. To succeed, you need great linemen. This year's draft includes a barrage of great linemen. Texas A&M has two great tackles, Michigan has one huge left tackle and Alabama has one of the best guards in recent years.
Chance Warmack of the Alabama Crimson Tide is a player like none other. Playing offensive guard, Warmack is a man among boys in the trenches. Warmack is listed at 6'3" and 320 pounds—good size for a guard.
As a run-blocker, Warmack is completely on another level. To simplify, Warmack moves people. However, Warmack doesn't just rely on pure strength. He is smart and athletic. He knows his job and he does it well. When double-teaming defenders, he blocks just long enough and knows when to move on to the second level to get linebackers, and bless their hearts, defensive backs.
Athletically, Warmack can pull with the best of them. I watched his game against Tennessee and in the second quarter, the Crimson Tide ran two straight plays with Warmack pulling. The first, T.J. Yeldon followed Warmack for about 20 yards. This was a standard play with Warmack pulling.
Is a guard worth drafting in the top 10 (assuming the Raiders land there)?
The next, however, opened my eyes. Warmack was pulling, yet again. However, this time, a Tennessee defender got loose and met Warmack straight on in the backfield. I feel bad for the guy because Warmack destroyed him while driving him almost two yards back.
It's clear that Warmack is a great run-blocker, but his pass-blocking skills are also top notch. Throughout the Tennessee game, I just sat there and thought, "Wow, this guy never gives up any pressure!" It was true. I could always see who Warmack was blocking, because he was the only guy far away from the quarterback, not getting pressure.
Warmack is an all-around dominant guard. With the Raiders, Warmack would be one of the reasons why the Raiders could have a great offensive line in a few years. Jared Veldheer, in my opinion, hasn't looked as great as he did last year, and I believe this is because Wisniewski was forced to move to center.
Imagine an offensive line that had Jared Veldheer, Chance Warmack and Stefen Wisniewski blocking. We could re-sign Carlisle and have him play right guard or even right tackle again, because all the Raiders would need to do is run to the left!
Carson Palmer wouldn't complain either if all he had to do was hand off the ball to the left side. I'm sure he's tired of dropping back and having guys instantly in his face.
Warmack is one of the best guards to come out in the past decade. However, many have pointed out that offensive guards don't go in the top 10 of the draft. However, if I were McKenzie, I would at least consider it.