Oakland Raiders: How Each of the Raiders' Rookies Will Fare in 2011-12

Zak CowanContributor IJuly 21, 2011

Oakland Raiders: How Each of the Raiders' Rookies Will Fare in 2011-12

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    Recent drafting by the Oakland Raiders has been sort of an enigma. 

    They are all across the board when it comes to rookie production, with players like Michael Huff and Jamarcus Russell never showing up (literally in regards to Russell), players like Darren McFadden not showing his worth for a while and players like Robert Gallery having to move positions because he wasn't good enough for the one the Raiders drafted him for.

    Despite this, the Raiders have, of late, been much more successful in the draft, especially finding value players in the late rounds.

    This year hopes to follow suit, as the Raiders didn't have a first-round pick (you know why), so they had to find value in other rounds.

    Let's take a look at how each rookie will fare in his rookie season, pick by pick.

Stefen Wisniewski, Round 2, Pick 48

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    Stefen Wisniewski was destined to become an Oakland Raider, and the front office didn't allow any other team to have a chance at drafting him by taking him a bit earlier than he was projected.

    Despite most believing that this pick was a reach, that is just not true.

    Wisniewski filled a need at the center position that the Raiders have been trying to sure up for nearly 10 years. 

    The only other center on the Raiders' roster is Samson Satele, who did nothing but disappoint after Oakland brought him in from Miami.

    This gives Wisniewski the chance to not only compete for the starting job at the center position, but flat out run away with it. 

    Everyone knows that he is a favorite of the front office and the coaching staff already. Not only that, but Wisniewski is known for his work ethic and over-achieving attitude. 

    There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Wisniewski will start the year as the starting center, but the real question is whether his style of play will fit in with Hue Jackson's new power-blocking scheme that he plans on implementing. 

    If his college career is any indication, Wisniewski will overcome any adversity that is thrown his way.

DeMarcus Van Dyke, Round 3, Pick 81

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    With the new collective bargaining agreement nearly finished, it seems that there is no chance at Nnamdi Asomugha returning to Oakland, with the salary cap likely being set at $120 million.

    Despite this, the Raiders should be more than set at the cornerback position, not just because of the starters they have to replace Asomugha, but the depth they have added in recent years, including DeMarcus Van Dyke in April's draft. 

    Van Dyke is the perfect fit for Oakland's man-to-man defense with his blazing speed (and lack to play the zone). 

    The competition in the defensive backfield will be tough, but look for Van Dyke to see the field in nickel and dime packages and make an impact from the get go.

Joseph Barksdale, Round 3, Pick 92

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    The competition will again be tough along the offensive line, but Joseph Barksdale, the massive offensive tackle out of LSU, has a hell of a chance to break into the starting lineup during his rookie season.

    Barksdale should be considered the Raiders' best pick during the draft. Now, don't get heated yet; just listen.

    Wisniewski, many will argue, was taken a tad too high for his skill set. I wouldn't argue this too heavy hearted, but Barksdale was considered by some to be the best pass-protection offensive lineman in the draft, as well as a worthy second- or even first-round pick.

    Expect him to move up the ranks fast, and maybe even start the season at the left guard position.

Chimdi Chekwa, Round 4, Pick 113

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    Another Asomugha insurance plan, Chimdi Chekwa will have the same advantages of seeing playing time as Van Dyke. 

    If Asomugha does in fact leave the East Bay (which I don't think will happen, but that's a topic for another article), the young rookies will have every chance in the world to get on the field for select plays throughout the year.

    If Asomugha doesn't bail, Chekwa will be a great special teams player as he polishes his game for the future.

Taiwan Jones, Round 4, Pick 125

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    The Raiders added a playmaker to their offense when they selected Jones in the fourth round. 

    Jones is in kind of a weird situation going into his rookie season. For one he'll be behind Darren McFadden, who was the best offensive player for the Raiders in 2010-11. The other big wall for Jones is Michael Bush. 

    If Michael Bush stays, Jones will be third on the depth chart, and we saw what the third-string running back (Rock Cartwright) did in Hue Jackson's offense last year.

    But if Bush does indeed become an unrestricted free agent and go elsewhere to play, then Jones' playing time during his rookie season could be tremendous.

Denarius Moore, Richard Gordon and David Ausberry: Rounds 5-7

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    The Raiders again added playmakers in their final three picks of the day, and surprisingly, these three players could very well see ample playing time in their rookie seasons.

    Denarius Moore came out of college after serving up the seventh-best season in Tennessee history for a wide receiver.

    Richard Gordon, selected in the sixth round by Oakland, will likely end up on the practice squad if Zach Miller returns, but if he doesn't, he could very well work his way onto the field.

    David Ausberry, the second wide receiver of the group (pictured above), came out of college as a fullback, but the Raiders' drafted him as a wide receiver, so don't expect him to play anything else. This kid has all the physical tools to be a good player in the NFL, and only time will tell if he has the mindset to take advantage of them.

Conclusion

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    The Raiders' picked up so really good players in the draft, but all of them will need to advance their game to a higher level, and it will be upon the shoulders of Hue Jackson's coaching staff to do so.

    The front office went into this draft looking to add depth and insurance to both sides of the ball, and it seems as though they achieved that. The only question now is: Will any of these guys become impact palyers for us? I think only time will tell.

    But I'd bet on it.

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