As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, it's time to look at some of the areas of need for the Oakland Raiders. When I look at this team and I put on my GM hat, I see a need for more depth on the offensive line.
I'm a firm believer that the Raiders have most of their roster figured out and they have the players that can take them to the next level. Their offensive line will be a big question mark in 2011, with Tom Cable no longer the head coach and a change in their philosophy.
While they did well in the run game, the Raiders struggled yet again in pass protection. Drafting multiple offensive linemen would be a great way to solidify the future of the Raiders. Let's take a look at ten prospects who should be available when the Raiders make their picks.
Benjamin Ijalana has been rising up the draft boards since the combine. He stands at 6'4" and weighed in at 317 pounds at the NFL Combine. While he's been a second-round prospect for a while, there are people who feel he could slip into the late first round.
His athletic ability and size would be a great fit for the Raiders. He has played tackle and guard in college, so his versatility could be used along the offensive line.
Danny Watkins is a 27-year-old senior out of Baylor. He was First Team All-Big 12 and started 25 games for Baylor.
At 6'3" and 310 pounds, he could be an option to replace Robert Gallery if Bruce Campbell or another player on the roster isn't ready to take his spot.
His age and his ability could help him start right away. He looks like a strong prospect for the guard position.
Marcus Cannon was a four year player at TCU. When you can find a four year player that has come out of a winning program, it's important to take a look at him.
Cannon may be from a non-BCS school, but you'd think he was already playing for the Raiders. He's listed at 6'5" and 350 pounds, which is the perfect fit for the Raiders offensive line.
Not only will he add size, but he'll add some athletic ability as well. Don't let his big size fool you, this guy is versatile.
I've mentioned Stefen Wisniewski in my previous articles as the offensive lineman most likely to be with the Raiders.
His uncle is a former Raider and he is currently on the coaching staff, but don't think that's the only reason he could be a Raider.
This man is a monster and can play almost anywhere along the offensive line. At 6'2" and 313 pounds, he could give the Raiders an instant starter.
Orlando Franklin is 6'6" and weighs 319 pounds. He comes out of the University of Miami, which has to mean he is more than capable of playing in the next level.
In 2009, he made All-ACC Honorable Mention and in 2010, he made the All-ACC Second Team, showing improvement every year. That is important for any player. You'd hate to draft a player that has peaked in college and can't perform in the pros.
While Franklin may be a project, he's worth taking a look at.
Marcus Gilbert is another big man from the SEC that comes from a winning program. He started 30 games for the Gators and is looking to make a living as a professional football player.
His stature alone makes him a solid prospect, but when you add his physical skills and fundamentals, he looks to be a solid late round prospect.
Gilbert is 6'6" and weighs in at 330 pounds. If you ever read the book, "Building a Bully for Dummies," it should say something about drafting this dude.
Robert Gallery was a monster as a guard in Oakland. His long hair and beard just made him look like a Raider. Sometimes I wonder if it was his beard that gave him the strength and ability to over power defensive linemen?
I'm not sure if that is possible, but there is only one way to find out. Draft John Moffit. He is rocking the beard and long hair and he is also manhandling defensive linemen.
It would be hard not to when you're 6'4" and 315 pounds. He played in Wisconsin, which tells me he knows how to win and he's used to playing at a high level. He would be a great mid-round selection for the Raiders.
I'm a big fan of SEC football, so when I see a player help a team achieve success, I can't help but to add him to my big board. James Carpenter was a Junior College transfer, but helped Alabama's run game quite a bit in his first year with the Crimson Tide.
He's 6'4" and weighs in at around 320 pounds. He's played against a high level of competition in the SEC and during practice. This is one guy a team like the Raiders should circle on their draft board.
I'll say this again. I love me some four-year players coming out of winning programs. UConn has had a good football team in recent years. Zach Hurd has been a part of it and he will be available in the later rounds.
This is one pick that I would make if I were the Raiders. His experience and his ability to improve every year tells me he'll be a great guy to have in the locker room. When you build an offensive line, you look for guys like this. He's 6'7" and weighs 320 and has Raider written all over him.
Here's a California guy that has the size and athletic ability to be a solid guard. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, he can push some people around. He wouldn't have to move far from home and he should be available in the later rounds.
Fresno State has had a good running game the last couple of years and their offensive line has been a big part of it. Andrew Jackson would fit in just fine in the California weather and would look good in a Raider uniform.
These are ten offensive linemen I would take a look at. Let's see if the Raiders draft any of them.
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