The Biggest Questions for Oakland Raiders Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft

Dan WilkinsCorrespondent IIApril 2, 2013

The Biggest Questions for Oakland Raiders Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft

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    The 2013 NFL draft is now just a few weeks away, and the Oakland Raiders have some significant questions surrounding the team heading in. 

    With countless holes on the roster, both in starting positions and further down the depth chart, the Raiders have plenty of areas that they need to address with very few picks to do so. 

    In this draft, we will start to get a sense of how GM Reggie McKenzie is looking to build this team moving forward and if he can bring with him the draft success that he was a part of during his time in Green Bay

    Either way, it is this upcoming draft class that will go a long way to defining the future success of this Raiders front office regime. 

    Here are the five biggest questions for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2013 NFL draft.

Can the Raiders Find a Trade-Down Partner?

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    In most cases, this wouldn’t necessarily be a burning question for a team heading into the draft. For the Raiders, at least in this offseason, it’s a different story. 

    Now unlikely to take a quarterback in the first round, the Raiders’ ideal situation is to trade down in hopes of stockpiling picks. Even if that trade down bumps them outside of the top 10, the multiple picks gained in return would significantly outweigh the drop to that spot. 

    The problem, as is the case every year, is finding a team that wants to trade up when you want to trade down. More than likely, the Raiders will have to hope that another team will want to trade up to their spot to take either QB Geno Smith or one of the elite left tackle prospects before another team swoops in. 

    If Reggie McKenzie can swing a trade down in the first round, or even more than one, the potential of this Raiders draft class immediately becomes that much better. Of course, he would have to hit on those picks, but you want to have as many chances possible to do so.

Is Reggie McKenzie a Good Drafting GM?

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    Coming over from Green Bay, Reggie McKenzie was lauded for his front office success and future potential as a general manager. 

    So far, he has done well to tear down everything that was wrong with the Raiders team that he took over, but now it is time to rebuild. That rebuild effectively starts with this draft class. 

    Although it is his second season in control of the Raiders, this will be the first draft that McKenzie will have a first-round selection at his disposal. Last year, he was not able to make a pick until the compensatory portion of the third round. 

    The Packers, as a franchise, were known for drafting well and building upon that success. It remains to be seen whether  McKenzie will bring the same success to Oakland, but the Raiders 2013 draft class will go a long way toward answering that very question.

Are the Raiders Still Looking for a QB of the Future?

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    The future of the quarterback position presents the most pressing and important question for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2013 draft. 

    The Raiders have now acquired former Seattle Seahawks and Packers QB Matt Flynn, but that still does not necessarily rule out taking a quarterback at some point later on in this draft. 

    It remains possible that Matt Flynn represents a stopgap of sorts for the Raiders offense, but at the same time, he may be considered an important building block himself. 

    At this point, only those in the Raiders organization know exactly what its plan of action will be. The way in which the team drafts at the quarterback position in April, if at all, will allow us much more insight into just what that plan may be.

How Will the Raiders Generate a Pass Rush?

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    Throughout the 2012 season, one of the most non-existent elements to the Raiders game overall was the pass rush on the defensive side. 

    At this point, the Raiders lack both a disruptive edge and interior rusher. Both of which have proven to be essential in defensive success around the league. 

    Will Reggie McKenzie and his staff be able to find this type of player in the draft? Expect them to try to do so at the very least. 

    The first round is where they will have the best chance of finding one such player that can have an immediate impact, but it is not the only way to do so. In fact, given just how poor the Raiders defense fared in getting to the passer this past season, it would be of little surprise were they to look to add several pass-rush specialists. 

    There are still several players on the open market whom have made a living out of bringing down the quarterback, but as cap-strapped as the Raiders indeed are, the draft is where they should look to improve this area most significantly.

Can the Raiders Fix the Secondary?

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    As bad as the pass rush was in 2012, the secondary didn’t help matters when it came to slowing down opposing quarterbacks. 

    This area, especially that of cornerback and now free safety, is the weakest personnel grouping on the entire Raiders roster, and it isn’t close. The question is, can the area improve enough after just one draft? 

    Unlikely to spend a first-round pick on a defensive back, the Raiders will have to wait until at least the third round. From that point until the end of the draft, they could conceivably pick several defensive backs to start, compete and/or develop. 

    At this point, when there are no proven cornerbacks or free safeties on the roster, it would be in the team’s best interest to add as many as possible. Doing so would create the necessary competition, where the best players in camp would earn the starting roles and roster spots.