Oakland's roster needs for 2010 are well documented and almost self-evident.
There are pressing needs to upgrade at offensive tackle (OT) and defensive tackle (DT), whilst adding depth at inside linebacker (ILB), cornerback (CB), fullback (FB), and kick returner (KR) is also essential.
The Raiders have not yet addressed any of these key requirements during free agency, so they must be looking at the draft for improvements.
There are five elite players in the draft who would be an instant upgrade for Oakland in the trenches: N Suh (DT), G McCoy (DT), T Williams (OT), B Bulaga (OT), and R Okung (OT).
The trouble is, almost all draft analysts have these five coming off the boards before the Raiders come to pick at number eight. This leaves the Raiders with a problem—whether to reach for inferior linemen or to draft the best possible player who is still in a need position.
The best option is to take Rolando McClain (ILB) from Alabama.
The defensive heartbeat of the National Championship team, he is almost an additional coach on the field.
McClain will upgrade the Raiders and ensure the defense does not give up so many big plays. Kirk Morrison is not in favor and his original-round tender (round three) means the Raiders are unlikely to be looking at him as the starter for 2010.
McClain is the winner of the Butkus award for the best linebacker in college and is the only man likely to fill the middle linebacker position from day one in Oakland.
The selection at number 39 is equally tough, as the Raiders will be looking for a space-filling DT or an athletic OT.
There are no standout O-linemen likely to be left at this spot, so the Raiders should again look to the Crimson Tide for help in the massive frame of Terrence "Mount" Cody.
Not favored by some, Cody is a natural fit in Oakland.
Yes, he was a NT in a 3-4 scheme, but his job in the Oakland defense would be to play the zero position and fill the middle of the line, allowing T Kelly, M Shaughnessy, and R Seymour to penetrate.
Cody only needs to be a two-down player, as on third downs, Seymour will move to tackle, T Scott will move to rush-end, and the Raiders can deploy an extra LB or DB according to position and distance.
The Raiders have been heroically weak in the middle of their defense for the past few years. Therefore, taking the heart of the best defense in college football (NT and ILB) seems like a logical way to upgrade.
This does not of course address the Raiders' problems along the offensive line, but the Raiders should be able to pick up a ZBS specialist in the later rounds or look to pull off a trade.
Another player likely to be on Oakland's radar is Perrish Cox (CB) from Oklahoma State. He does come with some red flags for discipline, but he excels in man coverage and will be a further option in the return game.