Oakland Raiders' Mock Draft: Al Davis Is Still Ahead of the Curve
I shall begin by saying that this mock draft for the Oakland Raiders likely contains elements of wishful thinking.
Any Raider fan knows that the glaring weaknesses for the Raiders were pass protection, red-zone offense and a lack of interceptions.
The offensive line will be overhauled this offseason.
The Raiders have hired Bob Wylie and former Raider Steve Wisniewski to coach the line and install the power-blocking scheme, as opposed to the zone-blocking scheme of former coach Tom Cable.
The power-blocking scheme is better suited for second-year players, left-tackle Jared Veldeer and lineman Bruce Campbell.
The ineffectiveness in the red zone could be resolved with better blocking in space as well as the addition of a veteran wideout in the slot and a second tight end.
My view has been that fullback Marcel Reece should see more time as a pass catcher, rather than a blocker, runner and receiver. Drafting a blocking specialist would free up Reece to be a bigger factor in the red zone.
The Raiders hired Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson to coach the cornerbacks. Woodson's experience is expected to increase the interceptions.
I then determined the needs:
- Right Tackle
- Defensive tackle
- Wideout (preferably a veteran)
I decided to follow that list by reviewing the offseason until now.
Al Davis clearly is the ultimate contrarian. When all the other owners are at their worst, he's at his best.
At the current rate, the Raiders could potentially have all their free agents either signed or tendered before a lockout by the owners (if a lockout occurs).
As of now, the only starters who remain unsigned or tendered are cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, safety Michael Huff, and right tackle Langston Walker.
Guard Robert Gallery won't return.
Today, the Raiders have signed or tendered quarterback Kyle Boller, safety Hiram Eugene, linebacker Ricky Brown, guard Daniel Loper and running back Michael Bennett.
I decided to also add that the haters of wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey need to be quiet. Why? Because he's a deep threat, plain and simple.
When the Raiders made DHB the seventh overall pick in 2009, the sports world let out a collective burst of laughter. Al Davis had proved his "craziness" once again.
Times are changing.
I won't delve into this trend too heavily, because as I understand it, most NFL executives now agree as to the importance of a deep threat.
As we saw in the postseason, an offense requires a deep threat on the outside in order to be successful. Even Tom Brady could not succeed without a legitimate deep threat against the Jets.
Thus, I want to see what Heyward-Bey can do under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
Speaking of coordinators, the Raiders finally named a defensive coordinator.
That person is former Raiders DC Chuck Bresnahan. I like the experience he brings to oversee new position coaches, Greg Biekert and Rod Woodson.
Bresnahan was defensive coordinator between 2000 and 2003, when the Raiders won three AFC West titles and appeared in the Super Bowl.
He was also the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2005 to 2007, when the Bengals ended a 15-year postseason drought.
In both cases, Bresnahan put together efficient defenses but could not rely on star players, Darrell Russell in Oakland and Odell Thurman in Cincinnati because both had off-field trouble.
Round 2: Stefen Wisniewski, Center, Penn State
The nephew of Raiders great Steve Wisniewski would be an instant fan-favorite in Oakland.
Sportsline.com has him projected as the second best center and is projected to be selected in either the second or third round.
The New Wiz has the toughness and intelligence for the position but must work on strength.
That of course is perfect for the Raiders, because o-line assistant Steve Wisniewski was the strength and conditioning coach for the Stanford Cardinal in 2010.
The Raiders are without a pick in the first round, a pick traded to New England for Richard Seymour.
I also wrote a list of alternate picks, based on the projections on Sportsline.com.
Here is that list:
Marcus Cannon, OT-TCU
Curtis Brown, CB-Texas
Akeem Ayers, LB-UCLA
Justin Houston, LB-Georgia
Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
Round 3: Buster Skrine, Cornerback, Chattanooga
Buster Skrine has reportedly run the 40-yard dash in the 4.2s.
If Al Davis decides to oblige his perennial need for speed, then Skrine would best fit the bill.
Skrine also posted the best numbers in the 360lb bench-press, amongst defensive backs.
He is currently projected between Rounds 4 and 6 but has likely moved up that projection to Round 3 to 5.
Lawrence Guy, DT-Arizona State
Dontay Moch, LB-Nevada
Chimdi Chekwa, CB-Ohio State
Kristofer O'Dowd, C-USC
Edmond Gates, WR-Abilene Christian
Round 4: Owen Marecic, Fullback, Stanford
Owen Marecic played linebacker and fullback for the Cardinal and won the Paul Hornung award for that versatility.
Marecic is known as a tenacious blocker who paved the way for running back Toby Gerhart in 2009 and protected quarterback Andrew Luck in 2010.
Stephen Schilling, G-Michigan
Jerrell Powe, DT-Mississippi
Ian Williams, DT-Notre Dame
Sione Fua, DT-Stanford
Pat Devlin, QB-Delaware
Round 5: Greg McElroy, Quarterback, Alabama
Greg McElroy has made headlines with his Wonderlic score of 48-of-50. The Wonderlic test is either underrated or overrated.
Other than Dan Marino, a bad score by a quarterback is generally a bad sign, which is not the case with McElroy.
More importantly, McElroy has been a winner at every level of football that he has played, which is a big plus in the book of Al Davis.
McElroy lacks the big-time arm but is accurate and and generally makes good decisions, except of course, when under pressure.
Nevertheless, this is the type of quarterback I would want on the sideline, because you know he'll be ready to command the playbook if needed.
DeMarcus Love, OL-Arkansas
Terrell McClain, DT-South Florida
Casey Matthews, LB-Oregon
Tyrod Taylor, QB-Virginia Tech
Henry Hynoski, FB-Pittsburgh
Round 6: Derek Hall, Right Tackle, Stanford
The offensive line for the Stanford Cardinal allowed only six sacks in 2010.
Hall was not invited to the NFL combine and thus qualifies as a sleeper.
His size and speed aren't eye-popping and has only one season as a starting tackle, but he has the in-line blocking skills, long arms and natural athleticism needed to be a starter—ideally on the right side.
According to Sportsline.com: He is still developing after only one year as a starter but has the natural athleticism to blossom into a contributor.
The Raiders also have inside knowledge after hiring Steve Wisniewski from the Cardinal.
Justin Boren, G-Ohio State
Doug Hogue, LB-Syracuse
Scott Lutrus, LB-Connecticut
Tori Gurley, WR-South Carolina
Anthony Sherman, FB-Connecticut
Round 7: Chris Neild, Defensive Tackle, West Virginia
Chris Neild has the size (313 lbs), strength (30 reps) and right height (6'2") to occupy blockers as a defensive tackle.
I like what he would bring for d-line coach Mike Waufle.
As a three-year starter, Neild was the "heart and soul" of the Mountaineers defense that ranked third in the nation.
The Raiders likely need another pick in the sixth round or to move up in the seventh round in order to select Neild.
Taylor Potts, QB-Texas Tech
DeMarcus van Dyke, CB-Miami
Ricardo Lockette, WR-Fort Valley State
Sealver Siliga, DT-Utah
Bruce Miller, LB-UCF
Carl Johnson, G-Florida
Thomas Claiborne, G-Boston College
Corey Earls, WR-Georgia Tech
Stephen Burton, WR-West Texas A&M
Jeremy Ross, WR-California