Oakland Raider head coach Tom Cable made it clear in his press conference following the Raiders' first round selection of Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain that this year the Raiders would focus on filling positions of need in the draft.
Ordinarily observers might be skeptical, taking Cable's words as a possible smokescreen to obscure the Raiders' real intentions.
But Coach Cable went on to point out that the Raiders recognize they have big needs on both sides of the line of scrimmage—so many, in fact, that only the most cynical observers could take Cable at anything other than his word.
The Raiders go into Rounds Two and Three on Friday with two picks. Barring trades and given their needs they will come away with a lineman on each side of the ball.
When asked, Cable admitted repeatedly that the Raiders had coveted offensive tackles Russell Okung and Trent Williams but anticipated both players would be gone by the time they picked eighth.
Cable and the Raiders regard both players as elite prospects, and he went on to express his view that of the 64 starting offensive tackles in the league, "only about 16 of them are really good, everybody else is just kind of hanging on."
The Raiders are hanging on with Mario Henderson at left tackle and Khalif Barnes on the right.
They could possibly upgrade the position by selecting USC's Charles Brown or Maryland's Bruce Campbell in the second round. After those players, the chances of finding an immediate upgrade diminish quickly.
But with the release of defensive tackle Gerard Warren, the Raiders also have a big need for a big body on the defensive line. Warren at 325 lbs, is about the same size as New England Patriot Vince Wilfork, whom Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour had so much success playing alongside.
Indeed, the Raiders don't have a defensive lineman bigger than William Joseph, at 310 lbs, on the roster. The Raiders have a clear need to get a tackle over 320 lbs if they are going to benefit from the investments they have made not only with Seymour—next year's first round pick—but with this year's first round selection, McClain, as well.
Alabama's Terrence Cody, East Carolina's Linval Thomas, and North Carolina's Cam Thomas all fill the suit.
With the number of NFL teams switching to the 3-4 defense and the demand for true nose tackles, the question is will any of them still be available when the Raiders pick in the third round?
How much will the Raiders have to give up to move up to get a wide body if they go with an OT in Round Two?
I think if Cody is there, the Raiders have to take him in Round Two.
Brown and Campbell will both need work to break into the starting lineup, and while either or both may be better long-term fixtures, Cody represents a body that can plug a hole right away.
After all, you just can't coach 6'4", 354 pounds, and you can't move him with fewer than two linemen.