The Oakland Raiders find themselves in an unfamiliar spot right now. A critically acclaimed spot. A spot that is gaining rave revues from experts, and for good reason.
The Raiders filled holes at every needed position in the draft. Some late round secondary and special teams help rounded out what was all things considered, a very impressive draft.
Their first pick, Rolando McClain out of Alabama, should bring a presence at the heart of the Raiders defence that it has lacked for quite some time. As the best Middle Linebacker in the country, he led Alabama's defence to a National Championship. This pick for-shadowed the departure of longstanding Raider Kirk Morrison, the only considerable loss to the Raiders on draft weekend.
Their second round pick of Lamarr Houston, a defensive tackle, added some much needed toughness against the run, coming from a Texas program that was very strong in that area. The Raiders have suggested he may end up playing some defensive end, which would give the a much more physical presence as opposed to a pure speed rusher.
Third round pick, Offensive tackle Jared Veldheer is a bit of a project, coming from Hillsdale, a small division 2 school. His 6"8" frame is surprisingly lean, and weight issues should not be a problem despite his immense size. Head coach Tom Cable, a former offensive line coach, sees no issue with him being able to handle NFL competition.
The Raiders may have gotten the steal of the draft in the 4th round. Bruce Campbell, the offensive tackle out of Maryland, was still sitting there at pick number 108, and the Raiders snatched him up. Many draft experts had him coming off the board in the first round, some even suggesting he would be picked by the Raiders at 8th overall. He was a no brainer at 108.
The 4th round pick acquired with a trade with Jacksonville that saw linebacker Kirk Morrison and a 5th round pick go the other way, was used to select Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Ford adds a threat to the Raiders return game, as well a more speed at the wide receiver position. His 5"9" frame makes him more of a deep threat and 3rd down receiver, but his 4.28 speed makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
The 5th round pick of Walter Mcfadden out of Auburn, added some speed at left cornerback, and with an All SEC first round selection, as well as an All American honourable mention, he was a steal in the 5th. Mcfadden had 6 interceptions last season and 9 over his last 2 years. He also has big play ability, returning 3 of those interceptions for touchdowns.
The biggest move the Raiders made on draft day however, had to be the acquisiton of quarterback Jason Campbell from the Washington Redskins. The Raiders traded a 4th round pick in 2012 for his services, and immediately extended his contract for another season.
Campbell immediately brings to the Raiders what has kept them from competing over the last few years. A legitimate NFL quarterback. Campbell has steadily improved behind a porous offensive line is Washington, last season completing 64.5% of his passes for 3,618 yard and 20 touchdowns. Campbell has been said to be a team player, and was very well liked in the locker room. He also possesses a very high work ethic, none of which could be said about former franchise quarterback Jamarcus Russell.
When all was said and done, the Raiders upgraded every position of need, and finally got a man they believe can be a quarterback in their system. Jason Campbell has the arm strength needed to suceed in the Raiders offense, and has the acurracy, intelligence and work ethic that Jamarcus Russell lacked.
Hats off to Al Davis for making the Raiders a contender for the AFC West this season.