GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen have stressed that this team will be built the right way. For Raiders fans, that is a refreshing change and something to be very happy about looking ahead.
Building the right way means doing so largely through the draft, making these pending selections all the more important to the future success of this regime and franchise as a whole.
Here is an updated Oakland Raiders 2013 mock draft.
Given the abundance of needs on both sides of the ball, the ideal situation here would be a trade down to stockpile picks. Unfortunately for the Raiders, doing so is much easier said than done.
While this draft may not be overly strong at quarterback, there is no denying that the Raiders need to figure out their future at that position. Carson Palmer is getting up there in the age department, and as much as the majority of fans would love to hand the job to Terrelle Pryor, there is clearly a reason as to why the Raiders have not already done so.
Should they have no opportunity to trade down and have to stay at third overall, Geno Smith is the pick here.
Smith brings with him an athletic ability that can be put to use when needed, but is also a very underrated passer. His downfield arm strength and accuracy would be a welcome addition to the vertical offense that new OC Greg Olson will likely install, and should help the Raiders put to use the speed of their receiving corps.
Again, there seems to be a stigma surrounding the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, but they have to be looked at separately from the rare talent that we saw enter the league at the position this past season. Just because a prospect is not RGIII or Andrew Luck doesn’t mean that they can’t help their team in a big way.
Geno Smith would give the Raiders’ offense a chance at the stability that has long eluded them, and would be a smart pick in the first round.
Here in the third round, the Raiders look to address their glaring need at defensive end and get a good value pick with Florida State’s Brandon Jenkins.
Jenkins may be flying under the radar after missing most of the 2012 season, but his ability to get to the quarterback is unquestioned. In 2010 and 2011 combined, he registered a very impressive 21.5 sacks.
At this point, Jenkins may be on the small side for an every-down 4-3 defensive end, but his 6’2”, 251-pound frame still has room to add weight.
Jenkins’ scheme versatility could be a great fit for this Raiders defense that stresses the need for multiplicity, and he should easily be under consideration for their third-round selection provided he falls that far.
Cornerback is the weakest position on the Raiders’ roster at this point, but because of other glaring holes, it can’t necessarily be addressed until the middle rounds.
In Robert Alford, the Raiders would be getting a speedy yet physical outside cornerback who can excel in the zone coverages that this defense will undoubtedly continue to employ more and more.
Over the past few seasons, even at times when Raiders cornerbacks stuck with receivers through the entirety of their routes, we have seen a lack of ball skills prohibit them from making the necessary play.
Alford is one of several cornerback prospects in this draft who brings that very ability, as well as his unquestioned athleticism, making it all the more likely that he'll have success at the next level.
With Tommy Kelly now released and Vance Walker likely to step in as a starter at the 3-technique defensive tackle position, the Raiders could use some more depth inside.
Georgia Southern’s Brent Russell is a bit of an under-the-radar prospect, having played at a small school, but his success as a disruptive interior pass-rusher should not go unnoticed.
His combination of strength and quickness could allow him to develop into a productive player in the NFL, and he would fit a need for the Raiders’ defense up front.
Again looking to address a weak defensive backfield here, the Raiders go with Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde.
Hyde possesses good size, physicality and ball skills, and had a very productive NCAA career.
There may be some questions surrounding his speed, and a switch to free safety at the next level could be in the works as result. For the Raiders, who recently released Michael Huff, that change would still address a need anyway.
A defensive back drafted this late is not necessarily expected to start right away, and if that proves to be the case for Hyde, he would still be a valuable addition to the special teams units in the meantime.
Regardless of whether or not Darren McFadden is able to stay healthy, the Raiders need to add ball-carriers behind him on the depth chart.
Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead brings a physicality to running the football that can’t be taught; he adds to his game with significant contributions as a pass-catcher as well. If there is a late-round pick in this draft that fits the Raiders’ new gap-power running scheme, it’s him.
Had Burkhead not missed a significant portion of the 2012 season, he likely would have put up the numbers necessary to easily make him a midround pick.
As it is, he is currently projected to go in the later rounds and could be a steal for a team like the Raiders here.
Finding offensive linemen who fit the Raiders’ new running scheme will be essential to success moving forward. While a transition period to the NFL game may be necessary, as he only started two full seasons at the college level, West Texas A&M’s Manase Foketi provides just that.
Foketi has the size and strength to be a dominant run-blocker at either guard or tackle, and showed as much in his college production.
Again, a player selected this late cannot be expected to start right away, but Foketi’s physical ability as a lineman makes him quite the interesting pick to develop moving forward.