This draft was heralded as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. And it hasn’t disappointed. As it stands, there are still a great number of players available that could just as easily have come off the board as early as the 1st or 2nd round and no one would have questioned the selection.
The Past couple of days of the draft I have posted a projected draft board and run a live blog as the picks were taken. At the conclusion of the 2nd day, there were several high prospects that remained just as there were quite a few that remained from the first day.
Coming into the offseason they had glaring needs at OT, OLB, MLB, DT, DE, and FB. They filled the needs at outside linebacker by trading for Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves.
Then the Raiders filled another three big needs in the first three rounds– middle linebacker, defensive end, and offensive tackle. Lamarr Houston was a defensive tackle in college but Tom Cable said in his post draft press conference that he intends on switching him to DE.
This just leaves the Raiders with needs at defensive tackle and fullback. Two positions that they have six selections left to fill according to Cable– a 4th, two 5ths, a 6th, and two 7th rounders. This many picks still available, along with still having Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard available as pieces to use in adding picks, will allow the Raiders to draft players at other positions that could use some depth and/or an upgrade. For which there are three that jump out immediately– quarterback, running back, and corner.
Unfortunately for the running back position, the best backs for the Raiders system are all taken. Those were CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty. The only remaining wildcard could be James Starks out of Buffalo who at the scouting combine was among the top 5 backs in the 3 cone and placed 7th in the 40 yard dash. If the Raiders take him it will likely be with the 6th or one of the 7th round picks.
The Raiders favorite quarterback in this draft is Mike Kafka out of Northwestern. He could be gone very soon so if the Raiders really want him, they may have to take him with their next pick. Plenty of teams will be looking at him at this point in the draft as a solid backup or their starting QB in waiting. He, Cincinnati’s Tony Pike and Central Michigan’s Dan Lefevour are the top QBs still on the board. Lefevour doesn’t have a strong enough arm for Al Davis’ liking and Pike doesn’t have as much upside potential as Kafka. There are a few other quarterbacks that are also a slight possibility as well including Fordham’s John Skelton, Tennesee’s Jonathan Crompton and Alabama’s Jevan Snead.
At the Defensive Tackle position a few names that jump out at me that could go fairly soon that could be of use to the Raiders are North Carolina’s Cam Thomas, Syracuse’s Arthur Jones, LSU’s Al Woods and Stanford’s Ekom Udofia. All of them are over 300 pounds and could anchor the middle of the Raiders line. Thomas would be the most urgent of all of them. He is the biggest and could be the next DT off the board in this draft.
There hasn’t been a single fullback drafted thus far. This is to be expected of course. Fullback is typically the player most teams start thinking about just before punters and kickers. The fourth round is the earliest we would see the first fullback drafted. If the Raiders want the best one they could ensure that with their next pick. Although that may be pretty drastic. They can most likely wait until the 5th round to get one with all the great prospects still available that could have gone higher. The list of draftable fullbacks is a short one. It consists of Virginia’s Rashawn Jackson, Kentucky’s John Conner, and Maryland’s Cory Jackson. Although you may be able to toss in UCLA’s Ryan Moya depending on who you ask.
You know that Al Davis can’t let the Raiders go through this entire draft without a corner. And the best one still out there is Akwasi Owusu-Ansah out of Indiana (PA). He is another one of those small school players that dazzled against bigger school competition much like the Raiders 3rd round selection, OT Jared Veldheer.
The next corner after Owusu-Ansah is from just up the street– Cal product Syd’Quan Thompson. Outside of those two Perrish Cox is a guy who is said to have some character issues but who did nothing but impress in the Senior Bowl and preceding practices. These are the only three top flight corners still around. And with Tom Cable admitting in his pre-draft interview that the Raiders would be looking to upgrade the secondary, one of these guys could be drafted very soon. Either with the next pick or with an additional 4th round pick acquired through trade (Howard or Morrison anyone?).
The Raiders along with the rest of the NFL, were very thin at corner last season. Heck, the Raiders were so desperate that they tried to transform wide receiver Jonathan Holland to corner. So they will be looking to add depth as well as competition for the nickel corner with Stanford Routt.
There is a slight need of adding depth and competition to the interior offensive line. There was a run on guards in the 2nd and 3rd round and there is really very few good ones left (that we know of). I only have one left that was projected in the top 150 picks and that is Brandon Carter out of Texas Tech.
Also, if the Raiders are looking to stock pile more offensive tackles, there are a couple still out there that both have ideal athleticism to play in the zone blocking scheme in Bruce Campbell and Selvish Capers.
It has been a fantastic and fun draft so far and it looks to continue tomorrow with so many great options still out there for the taking.