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2010 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Pre-Draft Needs—A Coach's Perspective

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2010 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Pre-Draft Needs—A Coach's Perspective
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Once again, Raider Nation is all atwitter over the looming NFL draft.

Questions and speculation abound within Raider Nation. Will this player or that player be available when we pick? Should we draft that "back-flipping" defensive end? Should we get that great cornerback? Why not take another quarterback?

This is nothing new from the Raider Nation, but they're way off base in a lot of cases.

In this article, I will lay out the Oakland Raider's team needs as seen by a former coach. Some of you will agree, some of you will not. Either way, this will be an unbiased look at the positions the Oakland Raiders need to improve the most.


1-A. Offensive tackle
:

The first area of need is at the line of scrimmage...on both sides. In other words, it's a tie for first place between an offensive tackle and a defensive tackle.

Part of the reason for the anemic offense in Oakland last season was due to extreme pressure and a ton of sacks given up the porous offensive line, specifically from the right tackle position. If the Raiders can get a real left tackle in there, they can move Mario Henderson or Khalif Barnes over to the right side. This will alleviate a lot of the pressure, sacks and turnovers.

Options to improve this in the draft include:

First round: Trent Williams or Brian Bulaga, whom ever is available with the eighth pick. Anthony Davis is an option, but would be a bit of a reach in the top 10.

Second round: Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer. Campbell is a workout warrior, but not very polished in his position. Veldheer has been climbing draft boards and could be the sleeper of the draft.


1-B.
Defensive tackle :

The biggest downfall of the Raider defense was against the run. They couldn't stop anyone, and made even average running backs look good. One of the main causes was due to poor defensive tackle play from Gerard Warren.

Tommy Kelly wasn't as bad as he looked last season because he had absolutely no help from Warren. Getting a quality defensive tackle in there to help Kelly and the linebackers out will go a long way to improve the overall defense.

There is a wealth of depth in the draft at the defensive tackle position and the Raiders should be able to get great talent, regardless of which round they choose to address this need.

Options to improve this in the draft include:

First Round: Dan Williams and Brian Price. Williams would be a nice pick at No.8. Price would be a bit of a reach in the top 10, but probably won't be there in the second round.

Second round: Jared Odrick, Cam Thomas, Geno Atkins, and D'Anthony Smith are all legitimate picks that would improve the Raiders run defense.

Terrence Cody is a name Raider fans have been mentioning as a possible fit. I couldn't disagree more. He is overweight, under athletic, and is a project at best. When asked about him in the past, I've always responded the same way. "No feet, no awareness, no thanks!"


2. Middle linebacker:

Another reason for the failure of the Raiders to stop the run was insufficient middle linebacker play. Don't judge Kirk Morrison too harshly when you hear this. Morrison has been set up to fail by the previous defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. Morrison was a strong side linebacker in college and his rookie year.

Morrison was asked to move into the middle in his second year. This put him into a situation in which he had to learn a completely new position. The eight or 10 years of training he went through to learn how to play outside were thrown out the window. The middle is much different than the outside. The responsibilities, the reads, and the decisions are totally different.

If Al Davis decides to do the right thing, he will move Morrison back outside, where he belongs, and bring in a real middle linebacker.

Options to improve this in the draft include:

First Round: Rolando McClain and Brandon Spikes. McClain is the consensus No. 1. I have seen some "hustle" issues in him recently, but he would still be a good pick at No. 8. Spikes lacks the ideal speed and fluidity of an NFL linebacker, but has a "motor" that more than makes up for it. He'd still be a reach in the top 10 though.

Second Round: Donald Butler and Eric Norwood. Butler would be my pick, but his stock is rising and he might not be available in the second round. Norwood may be a reach at No. 39, but he is a player.

I'd like to add the name Boris Lee to this list. He isn't real high on draft boards in the media, but is still a heck of a player.

Lee would be a reach in the second round, but could come with a lot of value in the third. He is another candidate for sleeper of the draft. If he played at a big school, instead of Troy, he'd probably be projected in the middle or high second round.


3. Guard/Center:

A lot of the aforementioned pressure and sacks came from the interior line, specifically the right guard spot.

Gallery is a stalwart at left guard, but there is a bunch of turmoil at the center and right guard positions. Chris Morris, Cooper Carlisle, and Erik Pears played revolving door at guard. Tackle Langston Walker played fairly well in the absence of Gallery due to injury, but he is not a guard in the long term.

Sampson Satele showed some weakness in pass protection and Chris Morris also failed to live up to expectations. Al Davis should really consider drafting another player in the later rounds of this years draft.

Options to improve this in the draft include:

Third Round:Vladimir Ducasse, John Jerry, and Mitch Petrus would all be solid third round picks and would help the team.

Fourth Round: Dennis Landolt as a guard, and Matt Tennant at center would provide great value and depth for the Raiders ailing offensive line.

I'd like to throw another name in the mix. Chris Hall, center from Texas, has been up and down draft boards. Off the field issues and a suspect work ethic have hurt his draft stock. If Al Davis were to pick him in the fifth or sixth round, he could really help the team. Hall is another potential sleeper.

All of the men listed here have played both center and guard. The versatility they would provide would be invaluable to the future of the Raiders.


4. Cornerback
:

One position of contention amongst Raider fans is the cornerback spot. Some fans think that Chris Johnson is the worst player on the team, others (like me) were encouraged by what they saw last season and are predicting a drastic improvement in him this offseason.

The fact of the matter is that the real weakness in the secondary was in the Nickel and Dime positions. Stanford Routt was atrocious at times, and only average at others. This position needs to be addressed, but not early in the draft.

One option is to have Michael Huff play the No. 2 corner spot. That would move Chris Johnson to the nickel, and Routt to the dime. This is a decent option, but I like Huff better at safety. That's just opinion though.

Options to improve this in the draft include:

Fourth Round: Kareem Jackson and A.J. Jefferson both have the size and speed to play well in the nickel and dime packages. Jefferson provides the extra value of being an excellent return man.

Fifth Round: Dominique Franks and Roderick Collins are big, physical corners that can match up with the big slot receivers on some of the NFL teams.

Another name to consider is David Pender. Great size, decent speed, but a little light. He'll need to bulk up some to compete in the NFL.


That's enough for now.

I've covered the top five positions of need for the Oakland Raiders. I looked at this from the perspective of what I would do if I were in charge.

You'll notice there is no defensive end on this list. There is no quarterback on this list. There is not a single wide receiver, running back, or safety on this list either. These are NOT positions of need for the Raiders, they are nothing more than positions of want by the fans.

Just like Al Davis, the fans get all excited over the "workout warriors", and physical specimens. This causes them to lose sight of the real needs of the team.

Again, those top five needs are: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, middle linebacker, interior linemen, and cornerback.

I'm sure this list will cause some fans think that I'm a genius, some will think I'm an idiot. That's fine, let me hear your voice in the comments.

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