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Let's start off by pointing out the obvious. The Raiders stink in the trenches.
The offensive line struggled to pave the way for backs game after game. The run game never got started all season and that affected the passing game. Since defensive players knew that the Raiders were passing, all they had to do was meet at No. 3.
Defensively, the team had an equally rough year. While there were a few bright spots, such as the consistency of Lamarr Houston and pass rushing of Desmond Bryant and Andre Carter, the unit as a whole struggled.
A few years removed from being a top-tier defensive line, the 2012 version struggled to rush the passer and, more importantly, stop the run.
The back four was not any better. The Raiders failed to stop the pass time and time again. Because of injury, the team was forced to move their best cover guy to a position that he hasn't played since his college days. His replacement failed to get the job done.
That said, the Raiders biggest need is defensive line, both interior and exterior. Wherever the team goes, they could kill two birds with one stone. If the team goes defensive end, then I could see Lamarr Houston playing inside, where he could embrace a "Geno Atkins" role. Drafting a great defensive tackle prospect, however, improves the play of the men around him.
As I noted earlier, defensive back is also a place of concern. The Raiders have a lot of holes there. Michael Huff is the best cover guy and it's likely that he will be moving back to safety. That leaves not only one, but two holes: at both starting cornerback positions.
If Huff does stay at cornerback, however, that leaves a hole at free safety. Tyvon Branch, who was a cornerback in college, could move over to free, but his cover skills are suspect. Going that route does give Mike Mitchell more playing time, which many Raider fans want to see.
After cornerback, the Raiders have to address their issue at middle linebacker. The Raiders' off-season is still early, however, and this is a position that could be solved rather easily. Miles Burris has been rumored to begin practicing at middle linebacker and it's possible that he could start there come September.
Last, but not least, the Raiders need to shore up their offensive line. If the Raiders believe in Jared Veldheer at left tackle, then there is no need to use their 3rd overall pick on a Luke Joeckel or Jake Matthews. If McKenzie does take one of those guys, that moves Veldheer over to right tackle, which I'm sure Palmer would love.
Another interior lineman would also help out a lot. Drafting a center could move Stefan Wisniewski back to guard, while drafting a guard could keep Wisniewski at center, where he's starting to get comfortable. A player like Barrett Jones could give the Raiders plenty of options.