2011 NFL Draft Results: What the 2011 Draft Means for the Oakland Raiders
It's that time again!
The Oakland Raiders are trying to improve the personnel of their team so make a playoff run. This time, the draft portion of it has come before the free agency period begins.
Therefore, it was unknown what needs the Raiders would address via the draft vs. free agency. The picture is now more clear as the NFL draft has come and gone.
Turn the page to see what the Raiders selections as well as other team's selections mean for the Oakland Raiders.
Offensive Line: Stephen Wisniewski
Oakland Raider head coach Hue Jackson has consistently spoken of "building a bully" and "assembling an offensive line" this offseason. A bully is hard to build on the offensive side of the ball with an undersized line.
Center Samson Satele and right guard Cooper Carlisle were undersized starters on the Raider offensive line in 2010. So to build that "bully," Davis addressed on center position with the selection of Stephen Wisniewski in the second round.
Davis is known to covet franchise centers and the 6'3", 315-pound Wisniewski fits the bill. Wisniewski is also a technician that plays with leverage so larger nose tackles will give the Raiders less problems going forward.
This is a big step toward building the "bully" Hue Jackson spoke of.
Offensive Line: Joseph Barksdale
The Raiders addressed the offensive line again in the third round with Joseph Barksdale. He was a left tackle in college but projects as a right tackle in the NFL.
That's still a good thing for the Raiders as right tackle Langston Walker is now a free agent.
At 6'5", 325 pounds, Barksdale is a big man so he can easily kick inside to guard. The worst case scenario for Barksdale is he gives the Raiders depth on the offensive line at the guard or tackle spots.
The offensive line improves again.
Offensive Line: Jared Gaither
That's the bulk of the teams that were in the running for the services for Baltimore Raven free agent left tackle Jared Gaither. Not that another team can't come in a grab him, but this makes his journey to Raider Nation all the more likely.
Jackson has already brought his vertical offense to Raider Nation from Baltimore where the Ravens were given time by Gaither. Gaither in turn thinks highly of Jackson as well as offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
He knows their system.
I can't help myself.
It's a good match.
Jared Veldheer did nothing to show he was a potential franchise left tackle in 2010.
Picking up the 6'9", 340-pound Gaither would complete the "bully" movement.
The Raiders didn't select a linebacker in the draft this year.
There are some big name free agents out there, but I doubt Davis will open up his checkbook for one of them. Word out of Raider Nation is that Trevor Scott is recovering well from knee surgery so it looks like that's what Davis will bank on.
He did play well at outside linebacker before he was injured.
Everyone except for myself has Nnamdi Asomugha on the next train out of Raider Nation. They read way too far into private workouts with guys like Rosi Dowling.
Now that the draft is over, it looks even more like Asomugha will remain a Raider. The Raiders did pick up Demarcus Vandyke and Chimdi Checkwa in the third and fourth rounds of the draft.
However, I believe that both will be gunners as well as Vandyke returning some punts. And from what I saw last year, Chris Johnson with his $6 million salary, Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden could be the ones gone in 2011.
You don't replace an All-Pro with a third and fourth rounder.
The Raiders didn't draft a safety in this year's draft.
What does that mean?
Do they trust Hiram Eugene?
Do they like Stevie Brown?
Word out of Raider Nation is that the 30-percent rule is the only reason why the Raiders didn't offer Michael Huff a contract before free agency. Hue Jackson has also gone on record hinting at the possibility of Chimdi Checkwa playing another position besides corner.
The Raiders drafted receiver Denarius Moore in the fifth round of the draft, but he is a long shot to make a big impact. What that partially tells me is that the Raiders believe Chaz Schilens will get over the injury bug and produce.
It can also mean that Raiders will use free agency or trade to address the position.
Chad Johnson is out there.
He also happens to think very highly of Jackson.
I'm just saying.
Running back Taiwan Jones, receiver Denarious Moore, tight end Richard Gordon and receiver David Ausberry rounded out the Raider draft.
So what does all this mean?
The Raiders are just a left tackle away from contention.
The inside of the line is now fixed so Jason Campbell will get his chance to shine when they find that left tackle. A healthy Darren McFadden and a healthy Chaz Schilens will join Zach Miller, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford and others to form an explosive offense.
The run defense should also improve with Rolando McClain in his second year as well. But the Raiders do not need to lose All-Pro players like Nnamdi Asomugha in the process.
Keeping him along with the improvements will leave the Raiders with next to no flaws.
The "bully" is almost built.