2012 NFL Draft: The Best Fit for the Oakland Raiders at Every Position

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystApril 23, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: The Best Fit for the Oakland Raiders at Every Position

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    To prepare the team for an era without legendary owner Al Davis, his son Mark Davis gave Reggie McKenzie authority to completely re-shape the football operations.

    McKenzie has already put his footprint on the roster and brought in Dennis Allen to be his head coach and allowed him to select his coaching staff.

    Changes have been made in most of the major areas in football operations, but outside an upgrade to the computer systems, the scouting department remains unchanged.

    McKenzie, Allen and the "interim" scouting department have spent the last two months getting ready for the NFL draft. The culmination of their work will finally be put to the test, and for many their livelihoods could be on the line.

    Thousands of pages of reports, dozens of visits, the combine, pro days and hundreds of hours of film work were utilized to prepare for just one event. 

    The scouts have to be ready for anything and so do the fans, so we'll take a look at a few prospects the Raiders could be considering at each position. 

Quarterback: Russell Wilson

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    If the Raiders decide to draft a quarterback, it will be the fourth pick the Raiders dedicate to the position in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    The Raiders gave up their fourth-round selection for Jason Campbell, their third-round selection for the rights to Terrelle Pryor and their first-round selection for Carson Palmer. 

    Given those facts, it would seem strange if the Raiders did draft a quarterback, but there has been a lot of speculation that the Raiders might ring in a veteran backup, and Wilson could serve the same purpose.

    The Raiders are content with Palmer, Pryor and Rhett Bomar for the time being, but Wilson can come in and learn the offense quickly while Pryor continues to polish his game.

    The knock of Russell Wilson is his height, as he stands just a shade under 5'11", but he seems to draw rave reviews in just about every other facet of his game. Few, if any, NFL quarterbacks have been successful when they are under six-feet tall.

    However, Wilson's height was a non-issue at Wisconsin as he played behind the tallest line in college football and still put up 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and had just four interceptions. Wilson also completed 72.8 percent of his passes as a senior and averaged 10.3 yards per attempt. 

    If McKenzie drafts Wilson, he's saying Pryor isn't ready to step into the backup role. Drafting Wilson is a hedge on Pryor's development and injury to Palmer.

    Wouldn't that be smart in light of the Kyle Boller fiasco last season?

    Wilson has been labeled "The Asterisk" by footballoutsiders.com's because of an absurdly high Lewin Career Forecast. Matt Waldmen took a closer look at him and dubbed Russell underrated in March and compared him to Drew Brees in April.

    Wilson also drew a positive review from Jon Gruden during his QB Camp segment on ESPN.

    If Wilson is still on the board at the end of the fourth round, the Raiders should consider selecting him despite the current investment in the position. 

Running Back: Vick Ballard

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    The Raiders sent offensive tackle/guard Bruce Campbell to the Carolina Panthers and received Mike Goodson in return. 

    Goodson and Taiwan Jones will fight for carries behind Darren McFadden. The trade eliminated the need for the Raiders to bring in a running back to replace the departed Michael Bush. 

    If the Raiders wanted to add a back, they should consider Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard. 

    Ballard is 5'11", 220 pounds, and he's a one-cut runner who could thrive in a zone-blocking scheme. He's also a bigger back who can fight for the tough yards.

    Per his National Football Post scouting report, he'll need to work on his blitz pickup and blocking, but he has potential to develop in that area with more experience.

    It's doubtful the Raiders would draft a running back, but Ballard would be an interesting fit.

Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton

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    In the past two years the Raiders have identified Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore later in the NFL draft. If they choose to go with a receiver again, they should consider T.Y. Hilton out of Florida International.

    Hilton is a legitimate speed threat and dynamic return man, much like Ford was out of Clemson. Hilton is a lot like Ford as he projects only to the slot receiver position at the pro level as a prospect.

    Ford proved during his rookie year that he can play outside, but he's still most effective as a slot receiver. 

    Hilton is an inch taller and 10 pounds lighter than Ford but has the frame to add a little more bulk.

    Imagine a secondary trying to defend Ford and Hilton in the slot and Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey on the outside?

    Anytime the offense can scare the defense, you have to consider the pick. Hilton has the type of ability to scare the defense. Coupled with the Raiders' current personnel, he could be a special player whether he is able to play outside or not.

Offensive Tackle: Brandon Mosley

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    The Raiders are looking for an offensive tackle who can eventually replace Khalif Barnes. Joseph Barksdale is one option, but he might also be moved the guard.

    Auburn's Brandon Mosley is a converted tight end who is very athletic for his size. He's physical and understands angles, which will help him in the zone-blocking system. 

    His technique is a raw, but he reminds me of Jared Veldheer as a prospect.

    If the Raiders are looking for a smart, athletic, developmental offensive tackle who can eventually become a franchise bookend right tackle, Mosley is the right prospect.

Offensive Guard: Lucas Nix

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    Like Mosley, Lucas Nix is another lineman who understands angles and plays with a nasty demeanor. Nix has average athletic ability but gets to the second level quickly.

    The Raiders must eventually fine a replacement for Cooper Carlisle, who will shift from right guard to left guard this season.

    Only Joseph Barksdale will push Carlisle at the guard position this season, and the Raiders must decide if Barksdale is better used to push for the right tackle job versus Khalif Barnes.

    An offensive tackle or guard is one of the biggest need positions for the Raiders, and despite McKenzie's assertion the team will only take the best player available, the Raiders should grab at least one offensive lineman in the draft.

Tight End: Michael Egnew

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    ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has mocked Missouri tight end Michael Egnew to the Raiders with pick 95. 

    Egnew saw his production decline when Blaine Gabbert departed for the NFL, but as Kiper explains it, the Raiders need a tight end, and Egnew is a good option.

    At 6'6", 250 pounds, Egnew is a big target for a quarterback. He's an explosive athlete recording an 11'3" broad jump at his pro day that would have been the best at the 2012 scouting combine, and he runs well for a guy his size.

    Egnew might have moved up draft boards due to his strong showing at his pro day.

    The issue with Egnew is little to no experience blocking. He primarily lined up in the slot in Missouri's spread offense. 

    The Raiders don't have an elite tight end, but I don't like the idea of drafting another tight end to this roster. Egnew is not a bad option, but he doesn't allow the Raiders to go without a blocking tight end like Brandon Myers or Richard Gordon.

    Would be a wasted pick.

Defensive End: Malik Jackson

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    Malik Jackson is a very interesting prospect because he's a end/tackle tweener. Given the Raiders' need for additional bodies at defensive end, Jackson would be ideal.

    Jackson has long arms to go along with an excellent motor and good football intelligence, but he needs to work on his lower body strength, according to most scouts. 

    He's not a fluid edge rusher and reminds me a little bit of Desmond Bryant. 

    Jackson is disruptive and gets into the backfield, as he had 11 tackles for a loss in each of the last two years. He's not a natural pass rusher, but he can get the job done.

    Most scouts believe he needs to add thickness in his lower half and learn to keep his pad level down.

    Jackson is also a nice option as a 3-technique if the Raiders ever need a player to fill in for Richard Seymour. 

Defensive Tackle: Josh Chapman

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    The Raiders are hoping and praying Josh Chapman falls to them in the third round. Chapman is exactly what the Raiders need at defensive tackle. Chapman's ACL injury should be healed by training camp, and he should be ready to participate.

    John Henderson was let go, and the Raiders don't have a stout, zero technique on the team. If the Raiders are serious about being able to stop the run this season, they need a player like Chapman.

    Chapman's recovery is reportedly going well and that could have him moving up draft boards, but if the Raiders can land him with their third-round selection, they will have themselves a good player with the heart and drive to help the team.

    Chapman plays with an extremely low base and is difficult to move off the ball. He can play in the 4-3 or 3-4 front and be successful. He's a scheme versatile player with violent hands and quick first step who is being undervalued due to injury.  

Linebacker: Demario Davis

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    The Raiders need linebacker depth in the worst way. 

    They plugged a huge hole at outside linebacker position by signing free agent Philip Wheeler. Now the Raiders must add depth at the position and find a player with enough athletic ability and potential to turn into a starter.

    Davis has the size and athletic ability to be a starter and will contribute on special teams right away.

    Scouts are mixed on Davis' instincts, but most scouts agree he'll be a plus run defender and has some potential as a blitzer given his athletic ability. 

    Davis should come off the board at some point in the third or fourth round, and provided Josh Chapman or Bruce Irvin are not there, he would be an excellent pick for the Raiders.

Pass-Rush Specialist: Bruce Irvin

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    Bruce Irvin is expected to come of the board between the second and third round, but if his character concerns drop him into the lap of the Raiders at the end of the third, they can thank the football gods.

    The 2012 NFL draft seems to be lacking many true pass rushers. Irvin has the size, speed, flexibility and motor to be a good pass-rushing specialist in the NFL.

    He might need a little time to develop his pass-rush repertoire, but he can be effective from the start and develop those moves as he learns to play at the pro level.

    Irvin is instinctual as a rusher and gives good effort as a run defender as well. He wasn't asked to drop into coverage in college.

    Irvin's athleticism also makes him a great player to have on special teams. 

    Irvin has character concerns, but given the right situation, he seems like a kid who can stay out of trouble. He had a tough childhood, and stability and veteran leadership on the team could be key for him.

Safety: Coryell Judie

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    Judie is very much an athlete playing football. Most scouts agree he fits in a zone scheme where he can read and break on the ball.

    His game is still raw, his technique needs refinement and he's stiff. His 3-cone drill at the combine was the worst of all the cornerbacks, and there is concern he may need to move to safety.

    He started playing football late and has injury concerns but is well-worth the risk later in the draft as a cornerback to safety conversion project. 

    Judie has nice ball skills and could become a nice safety at the pro level in time, but he doesn't project well as a cornerback.

Cornerback: Micah Pellerin

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    McKenzie's size prototype at cornerback appears to be at least 6'0" and 190 pounds. 

    Both the cornerbacks signed by McKenzie this offseason fit this prototype, and only one cornerback on the Packers doesn't measure up—Sam Shields, who misses the 190-pound mark by six pounds.

    Micah Pellerin is a small school prospect with a ton of potential. He has the ability to start in the pros but needs proper coaching to iron out the rough part of his game. 

    Best of all, Pellerin fits McKenzie's size requirements and is a potential starter who should be available in the fifth or sixth round.

    The Raiders are not in the position where they have to draft a cornerback, but if one is available who presents a good value, they should not hesitate to draft one.

    Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell are both playing on one-year deals and are 30 years old. Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke are still relative unknowns, even to McKenzie.

    Pellerin has fluid hips and has shown he is a willing tackler and is a good value if he drops into the sixth round.