Whichever position you think is more urgent between offensive guard or center, there is no questioning the significant need at either or both positions. These are positions in much need of draft attention. Outside of last year’s round four pick, Bruce Campbell, the Raiders have not drafted an offensive guard or center since 2006. And there is no better time than the present.
Robert Gallery was the best guard the Raiders had and he is not coming back next season. Right guard, Cooper Carlisle, is a product of the zone scheme and is also getting up there in years. The jury is still out on whether Bruce Campbell can be an NFL starter. And then there is center Samson Satele, who has looked good at times but never quite seems like the long term answer.
Here are a few guards and centers from the 2011 draft who could be good fits in Oakland.
Stefen Wisniewski, OG/C, Penn State: Round 2
As the nephew of legendary Raider guard Steve Wisniewski, he is half way in the door already. But being the best player at two positions the Raiders need, offensive guard and center, makes him a virtual lock as the pick. That is, providing another team in round two doesn’t take him before the Raiders get a chance.
Clint Boling, OG, Georgia: Round 3
His stock has risen since the offseason began. That is saying a lot for a guy who was a three year starter facing SEC talent nearly every game of his college career. He is viewed as a very smart player whose only real knock is his athleticism in a complicated system such as zone blocking. But since the Raiders won’t be deploying the zone any longer, he should fit nicely. If the Raiders go with another position in the second round, Boling would be a wise choice here.
Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan: Round 3-4
Schilling’s stock rose after having some outstanding Senior Bowl practices. He was a four year starter for the Wolverines and a three time Most Outstanding offensive lineman winner as well. He began his college career at right tackle before moving to left guard. He has all the skills to play offensive tackle but his short arms forced the move to guard. He is a superior pass blocker and has been developing his run blocking skills. He has decent size (302 lbs) with the frame to add more weight.
Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU: Round 5
Kirkpatrick spearheaded a fine offensive line on a TCU team that won the Rose Bowl last season. This is a guy whose value is mostly in his potential. He has some good skills already but is considered a bit of a project. With the Raiders bringing back Samson Satele for next season, they may be thinking they don’t need to draft a center to start right away. Kirkpatrick would be just the type of guy to develop.
Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock: Round 6
A year after the Raiders got their small school stud and new starting offensive tackle Jared Veldheer in the third round, there is no way this small school standout has escaped their attention. The Raiders have been famous for taking lesser known offensive lineman in the late rounds, many of whom have turned out to be quite good pros.
John Moffitt, OG/C, Wisconsin: Round 6-7
Moffitt started at both center and guard on different occasions which means that he will most likely play guard in the NFL. At 6-5, 320, he is already one of the biggest guard/center prospects in this draft. He was initially projected as a mid/late round pick coming out of Wisconsin. It wasn’t for certain if he was just living in the shadow of his teammate, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, or if he was made to look better by the talent next to him. After a poor workout in the combine, teams are leaning more toward the latter. But if he were to slip to the sixth or seventh round, the Raiders would be an ideal team to take that chance.
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