NFL Draft 2011: Will the Oakland Raiders Draft a Bully?

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NFL Draft 2011: Will the Oakland Raiders Draft a Bully?
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Defensive tackle Marvin Austin is projected as a late first round pick

With the possibility of losing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Michael Huff to free agency, the likelihood of the Oakland Raiders using their second round pick—No. 48 overall—on a cornerback seems to be the trendy pick among mockers and experts. Names such as Colorado’s Jimmy Smith and Miami’s Brandon Harris have been mentioned as possibilities.

Of course, the fan favorite around the Bay Area has been Penn State guard Stefen Wisniewski. The nephew of former Raiders offensive lineman Steve Wisniewski would fill an obvious need on the O-line.

Still, the Raiders are the only team in league without a first-round pick which means there’s a distinct possibility of Al Davis moving up into the first round—perhaps with Seattle, a team that sits at No. 25 and is rumored to be interested in moving down. TCU guard Marcus Cannon might be a nice fit here or Florida center Mike Pouncey.

But here’s the biggest question for Oakland: How can this team become a playoff contender if it can’t stop the run? North Carolina’s defensive tackle Marvin Austin would be the answer.

The athletic run-stuffing tackle was ineligible last season due to violating NCAA rules, but his upside is huge and the main reason why he’s still considered a late first rounder. Austin has the ability to collapse the pocket and stop the run but character issues have kept him from being considered alongside Alabama’s Marcell Dareus.

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Nevada's Colin Kaepernick threw 21 TDs and eight picks in 2010

Then there’s the rumor floating around the AFC West suggesting one team in the division has already targeted Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.

Denver, Kansas City and Oakland have all worked out the Wolf Pack signal-caller and, according to Wes Bunting of the National Football Post, the Raiders are fond of the 6’5” quarterback and might be willing trade up to get him. It would make sense, since starter Jason Campbell is in the last year of his contract.

Kaepernick has been invited to attend the draft in person and that means someone is interested. Kaepernick has uncanny accuracy, great size and decent mobility. Last season he completed 64 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,022 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

If the Raiders don’t trade up, Sport Illustrated’s Peter King provided a surprising alternative in his 1-minute drill: “The position that they don’t have a crying need for that may have the best player available, is at wide receiver,” King said in his video analysis of the Raiders’ draft needs. “There’s a bunch of good wide receivers mid-second round, to third round. Oakland could go wide receiver with that middle of the second round pick.”

If it’s time to say goodbye to Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders can start with speedster Randall Cobb of Kentucky. Cobb has the size and athletic ability to be an electric playmaker but his 4.5 forty-time may not be fast enough for Al Davis.

Is Pittsburgh’s Jon Baldwin the next Vincent Jackson? Maybe, but I don’t see the Raiders taking a chance on this guy. After a poor pro day, Baldwin’s stock is dropping.

Which player would help the Raiders most in 2011?

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Miami’s Leonard Hankerson is projected to be a mid- to late-second round pick. Kansas City could have interest here and pro scouts liken Hankerson to a Braylon Edwards type. But on the downside, the former Hurricane receiver has earned a reputation of dropping too many balls and doesn't have breakaway speed.

Carolina’s Steve Smith may be on the trading block. Reports have surfaced that Smith is looking to move on and tried to force a trade before the lockout. The former Pro Bowler had 46 receptions and caught two touchdowns in 2010. With the draft just hours away, which direction are the Raiders going in?

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