There was a lot of speculation about who the Raiders might take with the #48 pick but in the end it was the guy we thought they had in the beginning—OG/C Stefen Wisniewski out of Penn State.
As the nephew of legendary Raider guard Steve Wisniewski, he was half way in the door months ago. But being the best player at two positions the Raiders need, offensive guard and center, made him a virtual lock as the pick. That is providing another team didn’t take him before the Raiders got the chance.
He was indeed there and with Stefen, the Raiders get an extremely smart and versatile player, even with the ties to his uncle Steve aside. In fact coach Jackson insists the pick had nothing to do with the ties to the Raiders legendary guard and current offensive line coach.
“I want you guys to know and Raider Nation to know,” Jackson responds. “this is not about Steve, this is about Stefen… Obviously, [Steve] probably knows more about his nephew than anybody as far as his upbringing but when we watch the tape, we watch the tape as far as ‘can he play football, wear the Silver and Black and do the things that we need a player to do?’ By no means was this pick made because of Steve and by no means is he here because of a relationship. He’s here because he can help the Oakland Raiders win football games. And that’s why he’s going to be play center for us.”
Stefen certainly has the intelligence needed to play the center position. He was an Academic All-American at Penn State with a 3.92 GPA and a 4.0 GPA his final four semesters there.
He played center in 2009 but he has a lot more experience at guard, the position he prefers.
“I’m a little bit more comfortable at guard,” Wisniewski said prior to the draft. “I like the ability to use both hands. That’s pretty cool when you’re blocking, not having to start with your hand between your legs.”
Hue Jackson did not hesitate in saying:”He’s going to play center for the Oakland Raiders and I’m very, very excited.”
When asked about how comfortable he was in playing center, Stefen seemed confident enough.
“I’m comfortable with that,” he said. “I mean, I had a whole year there and I felt good playing the position. I moved back to guard for this year, because our team needed that, but I feel good at center, I’ve been working on it a lot lately, too. Not too rusty. I think I’ll be fine there.”
Hue Jackson was expectedly excited about the pick. Calling upon legendary Raider Jim Otto when speaking of Stefen Wisniewski. Jackson waxed poetic about how the great Raider teams are built upon a tough, smart offensive line, saying that Wisniewki has all those qualities.
Stefen said he is excited to be playing for his uncle, going as far as saying he wants to be better than his uncle was in the pros. Those are lofty hopes to be certain but it is a great approach. But despite his uncle’s jersey number 76 becoming available, he said ”That’s his number. I’ll find my own.”
So everyone welcome the Raiders new center and get ready to see the name Wisniewski on the back of a Raider jersey. Hopefully for a good long time.