Oakland Raiders Draft Needs

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The Oakland Raiders finished up the 2012 season 4-12 overall, but thanks to the Chiefs struggles they avoided the basement in the AFC West. It wasn’t the season the Raiders faithful were expecting to see in the first year under head coach Dennis Allen. After a relatively quiet offseason, Oakland has been active the past couple of days. They first traded for Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who figures to have a great shot to start after the team traded Carson Palmer to Arizona for a a couple of late draft picks. Prior to the two trades things weren’t exactly looking great for the Raiders. They lost DT Tommy Kelly, WR Darrius Heyward Bey, DB Michael Huff, LB Philip Wheeler, DE Matt Shaughnessy, and DT Desmond Bryant. Most of the additions haven’t been big signings, but they could help this team. The list includes LB Nick Roach, DT Vance Walker, LB Kevin Burnett and DT Pat Sims. Here’s a quick look at the top five positions Oakland needs to be targeting in the NFL Draft.

Cornerback:

The Raiders defense struggled all over the field, but few would argue that this team needs to do something to improve the talent at the cornerback position. Not a lot of people are talking about the Raiders using the No. 3 pick on a corner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled the trigger now that it appears they aren’t in the market for Geno Smith. This becomes even more of a possibility when you consider the team doesn’t have a second round pick. If they do in fact decide to go this direction, they will almost certainly take Alabama’s Dee Milliner.

Defensive End:

The Raiders Lamarr Houston led the team last year with a whopping 4.5 sacks. There’s not a lot of people who are talking about Oakland using their first round pick on a defensive end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went in this direction. The ideal scenario would be to trade down and pick up some addition draft picks and address this need later in the first round. Regardless if it comes early in the draft or free agency, Oakland find someone who can put more pressure on the quarterback if they want to contend in 2013.

Defensive Tackle:

While Walker and Sims are a couple of additions that could help this team in 2012, they aren’t the impact players that can make a huge difference without someone to feed off of. This year’s draft is full of talented corners and one of the best ways to improve the play of the secondary is to start by addressing the defensive line. Utah’s Star Lotulelei is the guy I think Oakland needs to strongly consider with the 3rd pick, but I could also see them taking Florida Sharrif Floyd.

Offensive Guard:

The Raiders have a couple of nice pieces up front with left tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefen Wisniewski, but could upgrades at the other three positions. While right tackle is an option, I think Oakland first needs to look at adding in some talent at the guard position. Unfortunately if the Raiders don’t use their first round pick on Milliner, they might not be able to address this need until the 4th round or later, as they have to get help at cornerback.

Running Back:

Oakland has a pretty explosive running back in Darren McFadden, but he can’t stay healthy. McFadden hasn’t played in more than 13 games in each of his first five seasons. Finding an insurance option who can make an impact offensively is definitely something this team needs to do before the start of next season. Running backs come out of nowhere in the NFL and many times you can find a star in the later rounds. Look for the Raiders to take a chance on someone in the 5th-7th rounds.

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