Oakland Raiders See Elements They Can Add to Their Offense at Scouting Combine
The Oakland Raiders went from No. 31 in 2009 to No. 6 in 2010 in scoring offense. Besides getting tight end Zach Miller re-signed, the offensive line is the Raiders' top priority to make their offense even better.
They can also use some help returning punts for better field position.
Big, strong and fast is what the Raiders are always looking for in the draft on both sides of the ball. The NFL scouting combine is often where the Raiders find those elements and from what I've seen, there isn't a shortage of these elements in the 2011 scouting combine at positions of need.
Turn the page to see who has those elements.
At 6'3", 315 pounds, Stefen Wisniewski is a big center at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. He is already family as his uncle is former Raider legend and current Raiders assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski.
But it doesn't just stop there, because Wisniewski performed pretty well at the combine for a center. One thing in Wisniewski's favor is that he's the biggest center in the draft this year.
He didn't exactly light the combine up, but the center is known as a thinking man's player. But Wisnewski finished at or right around the top five in each category for his position.
His 30 reps of 225 pounds tied him for fourth best among all offensive linemen. Many have Wisniewski going in Round 2 or 3, so the Raiders have a pretty good chance of landing him.
The Raiders can sure use a solid center, because current center Samson Satele isn't cutting it.
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Ryan Bartholomew is the workout warrior of this class of centers coming out. He had the highest amount of reps on the bench press with 34 and the fastest 40-yard dash time with a 4.97.
I'm sure the Raiders will break the tape out on him and see what round he's projected to go in. He is a just-in-case player as some people have Wisniewski going No. 32 to the New England Patriots.
Bartholomew was projected by many to go in the seventh round or go undrafted going into the combine. However, his combine performance could have ensured that he gets drafted.
With measurables like that, Al Davis could pick other positions early and get Bartholomew late.
Kristopher O'Dowd is a USC Trojan, and Al Davis loves players from that school.
He showed up well in the combine with 31 reps of 225 pounds to finish third amongst offensive linemen. He was also third in the 40-yard dash (5.16) and in the broad jump (8.9).
O'Dowd was projected to go in the third or fourth round, so here is another option at center. Davis already has former Trojan Alex Parsons on the practice squad, but one has to wonder if that was because of the zone scheme former Raider head coach Tom Cable used.
But like I said before, Davis loves USC alums.
Marcus Cannon is a massive man at 6'5", 358 pounds, and sneaky athletic. Cannon is known as a dancing bear and put it to use at TCU, as he hardly ever gave up quarterback sacks.
Only Carl Johnson of Florida was bigger at the same height, and just three pounds heavier. The massive Cannon was in the top 11 in the 40-yard dash as he took his 358 pounds over the distance in 5.26 seconds.
Remember, the pre-Cable Raiders loved their linemen big, and it appears Hue Jackson wants to get back to that. It doesn't look like the Raiders will get Jared Gaither, as the Ravens don't look ready to let him out of town.
Therefore, Cannon should be brought into Raider Nation to compete with Jared Veldheer at left tackle. Cannon can play right tackle as well, so he will have a place to go if he loses.
Langston Walker is rumored to be coming back in 2011, so either of these huge men can kick inside to guard.
Cannon will be solid in the NFL somewhere, so Davis will have to give him a look in the second round.
Derek Sherrod isn't as big or as strong a bear as Cannon, at 6'5", 315 pounds. However, there is much more dance in this bear than there is in Cannon.
Sherrod didn't rip up the bench press, but finished third in the three-cone drill and fourth in the 20-yard shuttle. He further showed his athleticism with solid showings in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump.
Sherrod was projected to go in the first or second round going into the combine. The bench press may have hurt him a bit, but he can always improve that for his pro day to go along with his athletic ability.
Davis will have to think about this one as well if he falls to the middle of the second round.
DeMarcus Love protected the blindside of Arkansas quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett in 2010. This leaves many to wonder if he can do it for a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Well, he was average in the strength portion of the combine, but it was the agility portion that he excelled at. Love finished in the top 10 in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.
Love was projected to go in the second or third round going into the combine and did nothing to hurt that. He is another dancing bear who should get some consideration from Davis in the second or third round.
It all depends on what who's available and where Davis wants to build his offensive line first.
This is value right here!
If Michael Bush decides to take off via free agency, he just might not be missed. Allen Bradford could be the power back that the Raiders need in 2011.
Bradford is a 5'11", 240-pounder who has plenty of thunder to go with Darren McFadden's lightning. Bradford showed his wares at the combine by bench pressing 225 pounds 28 times and running a 4.56 40-yard dash.
Going into the combine, Bradford was projected to go in the seventh round or not at all. His combine performance should lead him to at least being drafted.
He played in a crowded backfield at USC, so his body isn't all beat up. Plus, he will come in used to sharing carries and will gladly share the load with McFadden if he ends up being a Raider.
I think he's a better back than LeGarrette Blount coming out of college.
At 6'2", 211 pounds, Ricardo Lockette has good size and hands for an NFL wide receiver. He's also among the fastest players in the draft this year, with a 4.37 40-yard dash time.
Here we go again. Davis has to have his speed, and should in this case.
But there's enough money tied up in the wide receiver spot for the Raiders. This is a different case because Lockette is a track star and wide receiver who also has return skills.
The speedster from Ft. Valley State was projected to be undrafted going into the combine, so he will be an inexpensive late-round pick. The Raiders are in need of a punt returner, so this could be a good late-round investment for Davis.
This would complete the special teams for the Raiders.
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There is plenty of talent in this year's draft that can help the Raiders make their journey to the top. Al Davis, Hue Jackson and their staff must be hard at work to ensure that they have the same type of offseason as last year.
The Raiders now have fewer holes to fill, so their hits or misses are critical this year. The good thing is there seems to be a lot of depth on the offensive line in the draft that can help the Raiders.
There is also some speed in this year's draft that the Raiders can use in the punt return game among other things. Everything is where it needs to be now, and all Davis needs to do is make the right choices.
We'll see what the defensive players have for the Raiders today.