You've gotta give the NFL credit; despite the fact that it was used against them in court, the NFL always insisted there would be a 2011 draft. They never wavered, even when it made legal sense to delay the draft.
After Judge Susan Nelson ruled to void the lockout, and then ruled against a stay request by the owners that would delay the start of the NFL season, league officials, among more uncertainty and unrest than they could've fathomed hours before the draft, had a very real choice to make.
To draft, or not to draft?
The NFL, from a business and legal perspective, would've been well served to delay the draft, at least until all potential antitrust violations and contingencies were addressed, understood and some kind of emergency framework of labor rules put into place.
Not wanting to alienate an already weary fanbase, the NFL smartly decided that, despite the potential legal stickiness and free agency uncertainty, it was too much to ask football fans to swallow a delay of the only real meaningful football event in months.
So the draft went on. A few surprising things happened in Round 1: the Titans and Vikings grabbed Jake Locker and Christian Ponder far higher than those players were expected to go; the Saints sent a message to Reggie Bush and the rest of the NFL by trading back into the first with New England to pick up Mark Ingram, putting the Patriots in position to control the early rounds of next years' draft as a result—which is not a surprise in itself, because "The Hood" pulls this off every year—and Nate Solder was drafted before Anthony Costanzo.
The Washington Redskins passed on Blaine Gabbert and traded down with another QB needy team that took Gabbert in Jacksonville; the Atlanta Falcons made a bold statement by trading a ton of draft currency to move up and grab Julio Jones at six. And Da'Quan Bowers wasn't picked at all after being thought of as a potential No. 1 overall selection just a few scant months ago.
Through all this, the Raiders worked the phones like a political campaigner, trying to wrangle their way into the first round. However, they could not and thus had to sit and watch as everyone else in the NFL added at least something to their roster on Day 1.
Let's look at who the Raiders may target with their second and third-round picks. There's still quite a bit of talent out there, and they need to build on the success of last year's draft for some sustainable success.