Raiders add many more players

Day three of the 2012 NFL Draft came and went yesterday and the Raiders added a number of new players to the team.

Coming into the day, the Raiders had 4 draft picks – one fourth, two fifths and one sixth.

With their fourth round pick, 129th overall and the second of three compensatory picks awarded the team, they took OLB Miles Burris from San Diego St.  He has good size at 6’2″ 246 and was a locker room leader.  He’s reportedly an instictive player and good in run support but may be a liability in pass protection.  He had some success as a blitzer in college.

When the Raiders got on the clock for their first fifth round pick, 148 overall, they ended up trading with the Lions out of the pick.  The Raiders moved down 10 spots to 158 overall and in exchange for moving, they received the Lions seventh round pick.

With the 158th pick the Raiders chose Jack Crawford, a 6’5″ 274 DE from Penn St.  Despite having only played football for five years, at this time, Crawford is a great athlete with good size and he was a three year starter at Penn State.

Crawford is from London, England, and came to the US to play basketball in highschool.  He eventually was recruited to play football and earned a scholarship to Penn State.

Crawford will be used as a DE for the Raiders, GM Reggie McKenzie said.

The Raiders then picked again 10 spots later, at 168 overall, their last of three compensatory selections.  They chose a very interesting prospect in former Arizona WR Juron Criner who is a towering 6’3″ 224.  Criner is a natural WR with above average hands and very good body control.  He likely fell to the end of the fifth round due to his 40 yard dash, which was a 4.68.

Teams had questions about his ability to seperate from faster, bigger NFL Cornerbacks.  However, McKenzie disagreed that his 40 time meant that Criner was slow, saying “the speed, it was a factor but it was not a red flag. Because if it was a red flag we probably wouldn’t have taken him,” and adding, “the guy, for a big guy, he’s quick.”

Criner will likely fill a role as an underneath route possession receiver and another good red zone target.

Perhaps the most bizarre pick came next, in the 6th round – number 189 overall, when the Raiders chose DL player Christo Bilukidi out of Georgia State.  Bilukidi, pronounced “bil-loo-KEY-dee”, was born in Angola and has lived in a number of other countries including going to primary school (high school equivalent) in Canada.  He went to Junior college in Canada as well before transferring to Georgia State.

Georgia State is not division 1-A but McKenzie wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on him, saying, “Well, for one, it’s not his fault who he plays against. But with that being said, he’s a big man with a great deal of athleticism and he hustles to the ball. You can see that type stuff in watching him play.”

He added, “But what you look for, did he dominate at his level? And that he did. Bottom line, he’s a big man with really good athleticism and he plays like he loves to play the game.”

Bilukidi is 6’5″, 290 pounds and the Raiders plan on using him as a DT, McKenzie said, but it’s also possible he’d be a good fit to slide over to DE when the Raiders use a 3-4 alignment.  He played DE in college.  He was the first player ever taken out of Georgia State.

The teams final draft pick was the seventh round pick they had received in the trade with the Lions, 230th overall.  With the pick they selected another Penn State player, OLB Nathan Stupar.  He moves very well and was the Combine leader for the 3 cone drill and the 60 yard shuttle for all linebackers for this year.

He’s not undersized but at the lower end of what the team wants at 6’2″ 241.  There are some questions about his ability to hold the point of attack. However, he was a team Captain at Penn State and a high football IQ.  He can contribute on special teams and compete as a backup as well.

Those players, along with Tony Bergstrom taken the day before in the third round, completed the Raiders 2012 draft class.  The Raiders then turned their attention to Undrafted Free Agents, rookies who were eligible to be drafted but were not.  Once the draft ends, any of these players can be signed by any team and it’s always a massive free for all as teams offer varying bonuses on top of the basic salary.  Last year’s new CBA included a cap on the bonuses allowed per team and that cap – a limit to the sum of all UDFA’s bonuses per team – is reportedly about $73K this year.

UDFA signing period is always complicated to follow with teams thinking they have an agreement with a player only to have the player work out a better contract with another team.  The Raiders’ 2012 UDFA class reportedly includes Wisconsin safety Aaron Henry, Fort Valley State punter Marquette King, Beloit wide receiver Derek Carrier, Pittsburgh defensive lineman Lucas Nix, Missouri defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, Southern California wide receiver Brandon Carswell, East Carolina wide receiver Lance Lewis, Utah cornerback Conroy Black, Penn State cornerback Chaz Powell and California (Pa.) wide receiver Thomas Mayo.

The team will hold a minicamp to get their first real look at the their new players in a couple of weeks at Alameda.  It is unknown at this time whether media will be allowed – they were not allowed at the recent veteran minicamp – but it’s likely media will have some time to view the players on the field.

For more Raiders news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews

About Asher Mathews

Head writer for TFDS Sports, covering the Oakland Raiders and NFL at large. Proud Purdue alum. Follow me on Twitter!

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