NFL: Oakland Raiders' Mock Draft Class of 2011
Oakland Raiders' greats have had humble roots and haven’t come from a big name college football powerhouse.
Howie Long played at Villanova, Art Shell played at Maryland Eastern Shore and Gene Upshaw played college football at Texas A&I.
The Raiders have found these gems and molded them into some of the greatest players in Raider history, as well as some of the greatest players at their positions in the history of the game.
This draft will operate on a few premises, since it is impossible to have an accurate mock draft until after re-signings and coordinators' hirings. Since these have not happened yet, this draft will assume the Raiders re-sign their top notch players (Asomugha, Seymour, Miller, etc.), and this mock draft will also assume the rumors are true that Oakland will switch to a 3-4 defense.
Without further interruption, let’s fast-forward to the Raiders' second round draft pick!
The Second Round: Benjamin Ijalana, G/OT, Villanova
Ben Ijalana is projected to be a guard at the pro level, but he can also kick out and play right tackle as well. He has long arms and an NFL frame for the offensive line, he just needs to become more polished and improve his footwork and technique.
Not to say he is a completely raw prospect, he has great use of his hands and impressed many scouts at the Senior Bowl, but he is still expected to be a second round draft pick. This means there’s a great chance the Raiders could land this talent.
If Oakland lands him, his 6’4" and 320-pound frame would seem to be a great fit for Hue Jackson’s switch to a power-blocking scheme. He also would develop alongside Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell, giving the Raiders a solid young line that would dominate opponents for years to come.
This kid is only going to get better the more he learns the game, and I think he can develop into a solid right tackle the Raiders can rely on.
The Third Round: Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton
The truth is, if the Raiders switch to a 3-4 defense they really have no player on the roster who is a true nose tackle. Kenrick Ellis could provide Oakland with a mountain of a man who could be that nose tackle for years to come, as well as a great value in the third round.
The main issue with him is reports that he has a poor work ethic, and he has some question marks about his character after his transfer from South Carolina.
Yet this week at the Texas vs The Nation event, he seemed to impress a lot of scouts. For a man who is 6’5" and 335 pounds, it is reported he has surprisingly nimble feet.
Ellis could come in and immediately start for the Raiders in a 3-4 defense if they are able to draft him in the third round, they would just have to monitor his weight before the beginning of the season to make sure he is at a reasonable playing weight.
The Fourth Round: Will Rackley, G, Lehigh
There’s strong, and then there’s Will Rackley-strong. He can bench 440 pounds, and that pure strength still hasn’t been developed into a mauling, unstoppable blocker.
Rackley, in my opinion, is the prospect that can develop the most at the next level. He stands at 6’4" and weighs 310 pounds (ideal lineman measurable), but he still hasn’t been coached on how to use his strength and natural talents properly.
With the change in offensive line scheme, Rackley is another prospect that would not only fit into a power-blocking scheme but also excel at it greatly given his natural abilities. Once he is coached on how to move his feet and hands properly, he will be an impenetrable force on the line of scrimmage.
When this guy is lifting up defensive tackles in a couple years and throwing them around like ragdolls, I sure hope he is wearing silver and black.
The Fifth Round: Mark Herzlich, ILB, Boston College
Now a lot of people would love to see Casey Matthews drafted by the Raiders, and believe me, I would love to see him in a Raider jersey too if he can fall to Oakland at this pick.
Mark Herzlich was supposed to be a top 15 pick before he was diagnosed with cancer, and a steel rod was placed in his leg as a result, causing him to lose a bit of speed. He fought back though and played again this fall, but he didn’t have that great of a year and needs a bit more time to get back into the swing of things.
The reason I like Herzlich here is because he has the ideal size to play in the 3-4 defense as the inside linebacker, and his high intensity and smarts would make his tandem with Rolando McClain a brute force offensive coordinators would have nightmares about. Not to mention he still has the abilities of a top 15 pick that can now be had in the fifth round due to some unfortunate circumstances.
He plays with a lot of heart and brings intensity on every play. Even if he doesn’t get a sack or tackle, you can be sure his 6’4", 250-pound frame will be in the face of a blocker so another player can make the tackle. If Jackson wants to build a bully, Herzlich can be McClain's sidekick to make that happen.
The Sixth Round: Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock
Here’s another lineman who is flying under most fans' radar just because he is from a small school.
The Raiders need a new center, and what a great draft it would be if they were able to draft the future starting center in the sixth round.
Brandon Fusco is a durable guy who has started all 44 games of his collegiate career. He also follows through on every play and can be seen throwing blocks in the secondary on numerous occasions.
His main problem is he is a center only at the next level. Most teams will be looking for center/guard mixtures, but Fusco doesn’t fit this mold, luckily for the Raiders. Despite this fact, he did win the Gene Upshaw Award for best lineman in Division II football.
He still can add some bulk to his frame, and right now he is 6’4" and 302 pounds.
The Seventh Round: Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
With their final picks, the Raiders should draft this smart QB as a backup for Jason Campbell.
He has the pedigree of a winner, and he knows how to manage games and make smart decisions with the ball throughout the length of the game.
With the focus of the offense placed on running the ball, the rest of the focus should be placed on not turning the ball over and managing the game with smart decisions and smart reads.
This is where Greg McElroy excels, having only thrown five interceptions last year with a 71 percent completion percentage. He may not be the flashy quarterback, but he is the smart quarterback who knows how to win games and knows how to make good decisions both on and off the football field.
Only time will tell if McElroy can be molded into a starting quarterback, but his work ethic and résumé speak for themselves.
Undrafted Free Agents to Pursue
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin: In case Michael Bush wants to be a starter elsewhere, Oakland could sign this big power back to take over his responsibilities and goal-line duties.
Schuylar Oordt, TE, Northern Iowa: Oordt has the athleticism to be a good tight end, and he could help in both two-tight end sets, as well as occasionally giving Zach Miller a breather.
Butch Lewis, OT, USC: A poor man’s Bruce Campbell, he is another lineman with great size and speed.
Lawrence Marsh, DE/DT, Florida: Another 300-pound lineman who is able to run a sub-5 second 40-yard dash and could be molded into an athletic 3-4 end.
Kenny Rowe, DE/OLB, Oregon: The guy is a sack machine and would fit perfectly as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.
The Raiders had a great draft class last year, and this year I expect nothing different.
Oakland is on the brink of a championship run, and if they are able to strengthen up their offensive line and stop the run more successfully, then there is no reason this team can’t make the playoffs next year.
With the players I projected in my mock draft, I feel as if the Raiders both improve the quality of their offensive line as well as their overall defense through the use of a 3-4 scheme.
Some of the great Raiders have come from small schools, and the next generation of great Raiders can say they have the same pedigree. Let’s hope the Raiders draft some of these great talents that are still not fully developed, and turn them into the powerhouse we know Oakland should be!
I hope you enjoyed the mock draft, and as always, feel free to comment!