Any offensive lineman
This is not a knock on the abilities of prospects such as offensive tackles Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and guard Chance Warmack, each of whom deserve to go in the first 10 selections.
The issue is simply need.
While Oakland could use an upgrade at right tackle and both guard spots, the team has bigger holes at defensive tackle and cornerback.
The team can't afford to pick elsewhere, even for an elite player.
Geno Smith (quarterback, West Virginia)
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Carson Palmer is "highly unlikely" to accept a pay cut from the $13 million he's due this season.
Given the team's willingness to shed the high salaries of veterans (Richard Seymour, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey, etc.) to build for the future, Palmer's reluctance could well spell the end of the quarterback's controversial tenure in Oakland.
And if he leaves, quarterback suddenly looks pretty high on the list of team needs.
I like Geno Smith and I think he has the tools to be a productive starter in the NFL.
But even if Palmer departs, I believe the best option for the Raiders would be to bring in a defensive force with their first pick and give Terrelle Pryor the opportunity to start next season.
If Pryor succeeds or at least shows promise, the team will have young cornerstones on offense and defense to build around. (Or, it can trade him for a decent draft pick.)
If Pryor fails, the team can responsibly move on from another vestige of the Al Davis era and perhaps draft a top quarterback next season while making the most of the talent available this year.
General manager Reggie McKenzie clearly isn't trying to build a winner for this season or next, so Oakland should take its time and draft only the best players and only at positions of need.
Unfortunately, I fear that if Palmer is gone, the team will see Smith as their franchise player and take him at No. 3, pitting him against Pryor in a "competition" this summer.
Update (3/29/13, 7:05 p.m. EST): It appears "inevitable" that the Raiders will obtain Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and multiple other media outlets.
With Flynn in the picture, Smith almost certainly would not be an option at No. 3.
The team likely would have Flynn and Pryor compete to be the starter, with the team possibly picking up a veteran or drafting a project to serve as the third-stringer.
Star Lotulelei (defensive tackle, Utah)
In my last edition, I pegged Star Lotulelei as too risky for a selection at No. 3 because of uncertainty about his heart (the muscle, not his motivation) and the Raiders' need for a sure-fire impact player.
I'm still concerned about the former, even though his pro day went off without a hitch, according to ESPN.
Lotulelei will receive further pre-draft medical testing April 5-6 in Indianapolis, according to CBSSports.com, and another favorable report could provide needed reassurance.
However, he stays in this category for now, if only because of how many good candidates the Raiders now have to choose from (see next slide).
Bjoern Werner (defensive end, Florida State)/Damontre Moore (defensive end, Texas Tech)
I was highest on Werner last time out, as he seemed to be the safest pick who would also address a major need (pass rush).
Since then, however, a slew of mock drafts (e.g., here and here) have dropped Werner to the bottom of the first round.
So, while I continue to not doubt his skills, he may not represent the right value at such a high pick.
Further, Werner projects to flourish at only one position: 4-3 defensive end. The Raiders still could use one of those, but, as I explain in the next slide, such a limitation may conflict with the team's apparent player-evaluation strategy.
Moore, meanwhile, had a mediocre, injury-marred pro day, according to Yahoo! Sports.
According to the Dallas Morning News, he now is in danger of not being selected in the first round.