There is plenty of speculation about who the Raiders will take with their No. 8 pick, but one thing that just about everyone agrees on is that they need to improve play along the offensive line.
They have resigned their own free agents such as Khalif Barnes, but have done nothing else to bolster one of the league's worst offensive lines. You have to believe then, that they will try and pick up some new blood in the draft.
Oakland and Al Davis are known for going their own way in the draft and confounding the draft guru's. Their first rounders include Anthony Smith (who played pretty well) in 1990, and Bob Buczkowski (who well...didn't) in 1986.
They have taken punters (Ray Guy 1973), and kickers (Sebastian Janikowski 2000) in the first round also.
So who this year?
It's a lock that Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) will be gone in the first four picks, and Brian Bulaga (Iowa) will probably be gone by the time Oakland pick too. Bruce Campbell (Maryland) is a measurables guy but an average football player, and Trent Williams (Oklahoma) and Anthony Davis (Rutgers) have a questionable desire for the game.
But what about Mike Iupati?
If you can pick a punter or a kicker in the first round, why not a guard in the top ten?
There are a lot of reasons for the Raiders to like Iupati. They have not had a dominating lineman since their last appearance in the Superbowl (coincidence?), and the the big man from Idaho looked like a man amongst boys at the Senior Bowl this year.
He also showed the ability to play tackle on the right side, and Tom Cable likes that sort of versatility. Cable also has the foresight to work with Al Davis not against him, and I believe that he has more influence over the roster than many journalists credit him with.
Cable also coached the Idaho Vandals and still has a soft spot for the team. Here is what he said when asked if Iupati would be a success in the NFL
"Absolutely…first of all, he’s an Idaho Vandal, so I’m biased. He’s a terrific player. I think his future will be very bright. He’s going to have to transition from that level to the NFL. But he showed he has the ability to do that at the Senior Bowl. I’m very proud of him. I’m pulling for him to succeed, big time."
At 6' 5" and 330lbs, Mike Iupati has the power and physicality to dominate.
The Raiders need that kind of player in their front five, to open holes for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush to give them a fair chance to succeed.
The Raiders could even trade down and still draft him.
So why not Mike Iupati?