The Oakland Raiders come into the 2013 draft with needs at most every position. The Raiders, under second year GM Reggie McKenzie, continued to clean house this offseason by allowing a number of starters in 2012 and earlier seasons to leave via free agency and by releasing other starters outright.
The Raiders seem likely to target defense early in the 2013 draft as they are returning only one player on their starting defensive line, DE Lamarr Houston and and one linebacker from last year, WLB Miles Burris.
McKenzie is a firm believer in taking the best player available, not filling positions of need, which complicates trying to accurately mock the Raiders. McKenzie, in a pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, reiterated this philosophy.
McKenzie told the assembled media, "The key is drafting the best player. I don’t think you can draft for need, especially in the first round. I think you draft the best player. You try to fill that need down the line."
Read on for picks the Raiders may target in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Raiders have been incredibly difficult to predict for this pick. I’m going with Floyd, because the team needs to build up its defensive line, and there are a number of experts who think that Floyd is the best defensive lineman in the draft.
NFL Films’ Greg Cosell, someone who has grown up watching game film and is highly respected as a talent evaluator in the NFL, said about Floyd, “He’s my favorite player that I’ve seen on tape, and I’ve seen an awful lot of players. He’s an explosive athlete playing defensive tackle." Cosell continued, “He’s so gifted physically that he can play anywhere on the line, and I think he will become, like J.J. Watt, a much better pass-rusher in the NFL than he was in college football.”
Floyd, at 6’3”, 297 lbs, has the physical build to play in the NFL. He exhibits a good motor, a quick first step off the snap and strong hands that allow him to swipe away the arms of opposing offensive linemen and keep them from engaging into his body.
Floyd played a number of positions at Florida on the defensive line including the 3-technique (lining up on the outside shoulder of one of the guards), 5-technique (lining up on the outside shoulder of one of the offensive tackles) and nose tackle or 0-technique (lining up directly in front of the center).
His versatility and physical prowess will be a welcome addition to a Silver and Black defensive front that has struggled through Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour adding more to the salary cap than to the win column.
The cornerback market is always difficult to pick as each team has its own scheme and the type of player that it likes.
There are many who don't think that Wreh-Wilson will make it out of the second round, and it's entirely possible that he is taken mid to late in the second by a team that likes him for what he is—a tall and rangy outside corner.
Of the corners that may fall to the third, however, I like Wreh-Wilson the best for the Raiders.
Wreh-Wilson has enough size, at 6'1", 195 lbs, to play outside corner, and he's an aggressive corner who can press at the line, something he did well for the Huskies.
He doesn't have elite speed so he'll probably need help over the top with faster receivers, but he can line up against most receivers and compete well in the short and mid game.
He has good closing speed and a nose for the ball, and he's faster on the field than his 40 time indicates.
Wreh-Wilson is one player that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie will go for—he can understand his role for the Silver and Black and grow into it well.
The Raiders' biggest need, right now, is a pass-rusher who can help them improve on their lackluster 25 QB sacks last season.
The Raiders would have liked a pass-rusher in the first round, but there is no great pass- rusher in the first that was a good value with the number three pick. Therefore, the Raiders will look for one with their third pick in the draft.
Lemonier has good height at 6’3”, and although he is only 255 lbs coming out of Auburn, he has the frame to put more bulk in the NFL.
On tape, Lemonier shows a great first step that may be the single most important trait for a great defensive end. He also shows a good variety of pass-rushing moves—he has the speed to get around the defensive tackle wide but can also use a spin or swim move to get past the tackle towards the interior of the line.
Because of his lack of bulk he is more of a hybrid DE/OLB, but he hasn’t had much experience playing OLB and may not project well there due to some stiffness in his hips that won’t allow him to change direction quickly, an essential quality when operating in space.
The Raiders would be happy to add him and allow him to grow into an impact player; he will provide another piece for defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
Josh Johnson, #28
The Raiders go cornerback again at the beginning of the sixth round, taking the 5'9", 199 pound former Boilermaker.
Johnson is a superb athlete who played multiple sports in high school before focusing on football in college.
What really stands out about Johnson on his tape is his competitive drive—he's a pleasure to watch because he'll play his heart out against anyone (seriously, anyone—click here to watch Johnson excel against 6'6" and likely first round TE Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame).
Johnson is too short to be able to play outside corner unless injuries force him there. His future is likely as a nickelback, but offenses are going three or more wide so often these days that a nickel corner is practically a starter anyway.
Johnson has the competitive fire that the Raiders need, and he will be a physical presence against slot receivers.
As an added bonus, Johnson has experience returning punts and can compete against Jacoby Ford and others to be the Raiders' punt returner in 2013.
With their second sixth-round pick, I have the Raiders taking the towering Toilolo out of Stanford.
I think Toilolo is a late round gem in this draft. The video shows some of his receiving skills but just as, if not more, important are his blocking skills.
Toilolo is massive at 6'8" and 260 lbs. He can be a punishing blocker and has the size and athleticism to hold his own against defensive ends in the NFL.
He also flashes the ability to make difficult catches in traffic and has the speed to be a matchup headache for opposing defenses.
Toilolo lacks consistency—he'll make a highlight catch one moment but fail to extend and use his 34-1/2" wingspan to bring down the ball the next.
However, he's a project worth taking on because he has the physical skills to be able to develop into a starting tight end if he works on improving his technique.
If he can become more consistent and use his physical gifts to their full advantage, he has the physical skills to be one of the most complete tight ends in the NFL.
Catapano is very much a McKenzie pick. The former Princeton Tiger was a two-time captain and is looking to be the first player drafted from Princeton since 2001, when center Dennis Norman was taken in the seventh round by Seattle.
Catapano has NFL-caliber measureables at 6'4", 270 pounds, and he has a nonstop motor. He was the 2012 Ivy League defensive player of the year in 2012.
Catapano isn't flashy at defensive end, but he's a workhorse who can also play on special teams. He has a few pass-rush moves but relies more on outworking his opponent than physically beating him.
Even so, he has the size and ability to transition to the NFL, and he's worth a selection at the end of the sixth round for the Raiders.
Catapano will bring a solid work ethic and strong leadership skills to the Oakland locker room.
#99 Gilbert Pena
With its final selection, Oakland takes NT Gilbert Pena out of Ole Miss.
Pena has good size for the nose in either a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment at 6'2", 330 pounds. He would be able to be part of an Oakland defensive rotation that includes newly signed Pat Sims and Vance Walker and second-year player Christo Bilukidi.
The biggest knock on Pena is that he isn't as strong as his measureables would indicate, but as a rotation player on running downs, he did help Ole Miss' run defense in 2012 by plugging up the middle of the defensive line.