Oakland Raiders Mock Draft: How to Fix Biggest Problems in 7 Rounds
In general manager Reggie McKenzie's first offseason with the team, his hands were essentially tied due to a tough salary cap and very few draft picks. In the 2013 draft, the Raiders will have more selections, as well as a first-round pick for the first time since 2009.
For the Raiders, a team with plenty of holes to fill, the best use of that top-10 selection will be in a trade down. That way, they can attempt to fill in some missing picks in the later rounds, including the currently missing second- and fifth-round selections.
With that said, this mock draft is done in the hypothetical situation of a first-round trade down, leaving the Raiders with picks in all seven rounds.
1st Round : LB Manti Te'o (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o.
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Whether the Raiders' hypothetical trade down lands them still within the top 10, or just outside, all depends on who is willing to trade up. In either case, this would land them right around the range for Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o.
Te'o has been the key player in leading the Irish to their undefeated season and the upcoming BCS National Championship Game. Right now, the 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist projects very well for a transition to the NFL.
The Raiders' last first-round pick spent on a middle linebacker, Rolando McClain, has not turned out well in the least. That experiment will more than likely end this offseason, and in Manti Te'o, the Raiders could very well have the leader in the middle they were looking for in McClain.
Stout in both the running game and in coverage, Manti Te'o would round out a young but very high potential linebacking corps, assuming the Raiders are able to retain Philip Wheeler.
Again, a trade down is the best-case scenario for the Raiders. Doing so to stockpile picks, and still coming out of the first round with a player like Manti Te'o is an extremely favorable scenario.
2nd Round: CB Xavier Rhodes (FSU)
FSU CB Xavier Rhodes.
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Again, this is assuming that the Raiders are able to get back into the second round via a first-round trade down. In that case, as CB remains among the most glaring of needs, Xavier Rhodes would fit in very nicely.
While the run defense has been up and down throughout the season, the Raiders' inability to slow even the most average of passing attacks across the NFL is alarming. Drafting a corner, like Rhodes, would allow the Raiders to move Michael Huff back where he belongs, at safety.
Rhodes, a redshirt junior out of FSU, would bring the Raiders a big, physical corner, that can excel in both man and zone coverage. Moving forward, with Dennis Allen and DC Jason Tarver stressing multiplicity, that skill set will be extremely valuable.
With his size and speed combination, Xavier Rhodes can do it all, and has the potential to turn into a very productive corner at the next level. If he is still available if and when the Raiders do pick in the second round, they would be wise to make this selection, and rebuild around him in the secondary.
3rd Round: CB Sanders Commings (Georgia)
Georgia CB Sanders Commings.
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Yes, it's another CB selection for the Raiders, but based on the way the pass defense has played this year, it is much needed.
Sanders Commings, a redshirt senior out of Georgia, brings size similar to that of Xavier Rhodes, and has the kind of ball skills that have evaded Raiders corners quite often in recent seasons. He has tallied three interceptions thus far in 2012, with one of which coming in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama.
He may not be the track star that Raiders fans are used to seeing drafted at the cornerback position, but nor does he have to be. A pick like this would continue in addressing a glaring need in the secondary, while affirming that the new regime is about picking the best football players, rather than the fastest.
4th Round: DE Quanterus Smith (Western Kentucky)
Western Kentucky DE Quanterus Smith.
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To go with a revamped secondary, the Raiders badly need someone who can generate a pass rush. With all that has been made of the big defensive line over the past few years, they have not been able to get to the quarterback in 2012.
In the fourth round, taking a chance on a streaky, but highly talented pass-rusher like Western Kentucky's Quanterus Smith would certainly be worth it. If Smith can find consistency anywhere close to some of the dominant performances he had, the Raiders would have themselves quite the find here.
Smith finished 2012 just one sack off the NCAA lead, with 12.5. What makes him a likely mid-round pick is considering that the 12.5 total was spread over just four games, and he was shut out in the other six.
Although, considering he opened the season with a three-sack performance against Alabama, we know the ability against the best of opponents is there. With a fourth-round selection, in dire need of a dominant pass-rusher, Smith would be a good pick for the Raiders.
5th Round: OT/OG Kyle Long (Oregon)
Oregon OL Kyle Long.
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Kyle Long, the son of Hall of Fame Raiders DE, Howie Long, is flying up boards as we get closer to the draft.
With little talk about him prior to the season, and despite little experience, he could very well now come off the board in the middle rounds. If the hype continues, and he has good showings in pre-draft workouts, that stock could continue to rise.
Raiders fans would always enjoy their team drafting a son of one of the franchise's greatest players. In this case, though, he would fit well too.
Yes, he is raw. There is no doubt about that. However, his physical tools and potential just may outweigh that as a mid-round selection in this draft.
For the Raiders, Long would not likely be expected to contribute in his first or even second year, but the pick could definitely pay off down the road. With some aging veterans on the offensive line right now, he could step in for them once learning the NFL game, and the Raiders offensive system.
6th Round: DT Cory Grissom (USF)
USF DT Cory Grissom.
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Due to some health issues near the end of his career at South Florida, Cory Grissom has slipped in draft projections. Should he not make a move back up the boards, and still be available in the sixth round, the Raiders should not pass him up.
A scenario in which the Raiders part ways with both Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly in the offseason is becoming increasingly likely. If that proves to be the case, Lamarr Houston would likely move inside to tackle, but they would certainly still need to add more players at the position.
Grissom would give them a big body inside that can occupy blockers in the running game. He is an experienced player at USF, and could be a steal if still available this late.
7th Round: LB Cameron Lawrence (Mississippi St.)
Mississippi St. LB Cameron Lawrence.
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Depth at linebacker will more than likely be addressed in the later rounds of this draft. Here, the Raiders go with Mississippi State LB Cameron Lawrence.
Lawrence showed versatility early on in his career at Mississippi State. In his last two seasons, he has come on strong as a starter on defense, recording more than 100 tackles in each year.
While Lawrence adjusts to playing in an NFL defense at the next level, he would likely be a solid special teams contributor right away. There, he would be able to use his quickness and tackling ability. Raiders fans know that this is another area that needs quite a bit of help.