Despite not having a first round pick, the Raiders still have the opportunity to vastly improve the team that went undefeated in the AFC West last season.
Unlike in years past, the Raiders only have a few glaring holes that need to be addressed this offseason. Every team has room to improve, but in past seasons, the Raiders had so many problems, it was hard to decide what was the most important and needed to be addressed first.
This year, the Raiders only have two areas that are in desperate need of upgrades: offensive line and cornerback. One of those areas could still be eliminated if they re-sign Nnamdi Asomugha, but since they were unable to do so before the lockout, the Raiders should consider it a hole that needs to be addressed in the draft, and without Nnamdi, it's a big one.
Luckily for the Raiders, their first pick—in the second round—provides them with good options to address either of their two primary needs.
Should cornerback Jimmy Smith fall to the 48th pick, the Raiders could very well have found their replacement for Nnamdi Asomugha. Jimmy Smith is first round talent who might drop to the Raiders due to off field concerns which
At 6'2", Smith has good size, and just like Asomugha, he has the rare combination of size and elite speed with a 4.42 40 time. In addition, some of Smith's best skills are in man coverage, making him an excellent fit for the Raiders style of defense where he would often find himself out on an island.
However, with other cornerbacks available in later rounds and the possibility of re-signing Asomugha, the Raiders could very well decide to address their biggest need at offensive line.
With the exception of Jared Veldheer, the Raiders will be looking for upgrades across the offensive line, but the middle of the line is in the most need and there are options at the 48th pick to fill it.
Ever since the hiring of former Raider great Steve Wisniewski, there has been a lot of talk about Stefan Wisniewski coming to Oakland to play under his uncle. Stefan was a center in college, but has the ability to play center or guard. He has good size and above average arm length, something that is very important for offensive linemen.
If the Raiders are not interested in continuing the Wisniewski tradition, they have another very good option in Clint Boling. In college, Boling played tackle, but he has been pegged to play guard at the next level.
Boling is one of those guys who is not an athletic freak, but who has all of the intangibles. He has experience, as he was a four year starter at Georgia, has shown leadership, being named offensive captain his senior year and is seen as a tough competitor.
Finally, if the Raiders do not like their options at the 48th pick, they could package their second round pick to trade back into the first round.
Normally, trading up in the draft is not worth the risk. You will be forced to give up a lot in order to take a risk on a player who is unproven at the next level. However, this year, there happens to be a guy within reach that would fill a hole for the Raiders and who is as sure a bet as there is in the draft.
The Raiders could package their second round pick with a few picks from next year and maybe a player, in order to trade into the middle first round and draft Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey is a stud that some believe could be better than his brother, Maurkice Pouncey, the pro bowl rookie from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the type of guy that can be the anchor for the Raiders offensive line for years.
Given the massive improvement by the Raiders last season, any of these guys would be a huge help in taking the Raiders that extra step and getting into the playoffs.