The lack of information flowing from the Oakland Raiders front office this off-season has spurred a lot of debate within Raider Nation. Some fans think Al Davis is back to his old, wiley self; others think that he has just lost his mind. Whatever the case, it leaves the Silver & Black faithful answerless and wondering.
What happens when there is a lack of information?
Speculation is all Raider fans have to hold on to this off-season. I've heard every option from trading standout cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for draft picks to drafting Jimmy Claussen to switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme. None of these seem all that likely to me, but none would surprise me either.
In this article I'll lay out several options that would make sense under varying circumstances. I'll be taking into account the free agent additions and the cutting of veterans to try to predict what Al Davis' intentions might be.
This article is intended only to give you food for thought.
Stay with me here.
This option operates under a few assumptions. The first is that Al Davis is happy with the quarterbacks the Raiders have, and is not looking replace Russell or Gradkowski.
It also assumes that Davis isn't looking for the big draft day splash and seeks only to improve the team by drafting positions of need and that he thinks the biggest need is offensive tackle.
I happen to agree with that assumption.
If these assumptions are correct and Russell Okung and Brian Bulaga are already off the board, the best player to draft with the eighth pick in the draft would be offensive tackle Trent Williams from Oklahoma.
Williams is leaps and bounds ahead of Bruce Campbell (the player most speculated to go to the Raiders) in both experience and technique. In fact, he is leaps and bounds ahead of every tackle in the draft except Okung or Bulaga.
Williams would make an instant impact on the Raiders offensive line and solidify the left tackle spot for years to come.
The only difference in the assumptions made in option one is that Al Davis believes that the defense is in more need of upgrading.
If this is the case, and Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy are off the board, the most logical choice would come down to two players, middle linebackers Rolando McClain of Alabama and Brandon Spikes from Florida.
Both of these players played in big games and for big time programs, both were the play callers on their defense and were very solid in the middle. A talent the Raiders were sorely lacking in 2009.
I am led me to believe that if it came to this, Davis would be more likely to take McClain over Spikes based on his athleticism. McClain is faster, more fluid in the hips and played in a pro style defense for Nick Saban at Alabama.
Either of these players would be an upgrade at the middle linebacker spot and would help the Raiders improve over the long term. With the ever more likely loss of Kirk Morrison, drafting an inside linebacker would make a lot of sense.
However, one dark-horse player to watch for is middle linebacker Donald Butler from the University of Washington. He could be the sleeper of the draft.
This option is based on different assumptions. If Al Davis is still happy with the quarterback situation, but wants to make the big splash and feels that offense is the major need, he may make some moves on draft day.
Trading the number eight pick along with a player or two, like Michael Huff, Stanford Routt or Kirk Morrison to one of the top three teams would give Davis the opportunity to get the best offensive tackle in the draft, Russell Okung.
Okung is the real deal at left tackle. He is polished in his technique and is athletic enough to play in a power, drive blocking scheme or a zone blocking scheme. This versatility makes Russell the proverbial "can't miss."
Drafting Okung would be the "perfect storm" and would give the Raiders an anchor on the offensive line they have been missing since Lincoln Kennedy retired.
If Al Davis wants to make the big splash and feels that defense is the primary need, he could make a similar trade to move up in the first round.
Getting one of the top three picks should allow Davis to get one of the two great defensive tackles in the draft this year in Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska or Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma.
These two men are listed on most draft boards as player 1-A and 1-B at the defensive tackle position. Both played on excellent defenses and in big games last season. They were the anchors of their defensive front seven and are more than likely going to transition into the professional game with relative ease.
Either Suh or McCoy would be great additions to the Raiders and provide an instant upgrade up front and help the anemic run defense.
The assumptions that this option is based on are pretty far fetched, but you never know with Al Davis. He might be looking to find a player that no one expects him to pick in the first round and he might also be looking to convert the team to a 3-4 scheme.
If this turns out to be true, then I can see him taking the defensive tackle Terrence Cody from Alabama. Cody is the proto-typical nose tackle for a 3-4 defense—big, real big and strong, but not very athletic.
Cody would only be a great pick if the defensive scheme changes; he will not fit into the 4-3 the Raiders run now.
That said, even if Al switches the Raiders to the 3-4, Cody would still be a reach in the top 10 of the draft. There are just too many questions about his work ethic and his desire to play all out on every down.
Cody would definitely be a good fit in the 3-4, but not a "home-run" type of pick.
This is based on similar assumptions as option five, but with Al Davis wanting to make his big "head-scratcher" pick on offense and that he keeps the 4-3 scheme currently employed in Oakland.
It is not a secret that the Raiders' wide receivers did not have a great season in 2009 with the minor exception of Louis Murphy. Chaz Shillens played well when he was in the game, but injuries hurt his overall production.
Wadkins, Higgins and the others were fair at best and didn't really make the impact the Raiders needed them to.
Drafting a player like wide receiver Dez Bryant from Oklahoma State would satisfy the "head-scratcher" theory Davis is notorious for, as well as adding some needed depth at the wide out position. He is a physical specimen, a workout warrior, and a nice big target in the red-zone for which ever quarterback gets to start.
Bryant is a great receiver, and drafting him with the eighth overall pick wouldn't be that big of a reach, but the fact that he doesn't play a position of need means that this option is highly unlikely and would indeed make a splash.
Okay, I've laid out only six of a possible billion options for the Raiders in the first round of the 2010 draft.
I see option one and option two as the most likely to actually happen and the best options for the betterment of the team. But again, this is Al Davis we're dealing with. Anything could happen, and since he isn't tipping his hand much we're left to guess and speculate.
Don't forget, I'm not advocating any of one these options over any other. I'm only throwing them out there to elicit your ideas.
So, let me hear your thoughts and other possibilities.