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2012 Draft means bargain-bin shopping for Raiders

Posted By Jesse Scott On Apr 5 2012 @ 3:36 pm In Oakland Raiders | 3 Comments

The passing of Al Davis signaled the dawn of a new era for Raider Nation.  Unfortunately, that new era will begin without a first or second round draft pick.

Raider executive Reggie McKenzie has expressed interest in drafting an outside linebacker to fill what he believes is the last position on the team without a true starter.  This would be ideal, however, by the time the Raiders make their first pick (95th overall); there may not be an outside linebacker on the board who merits that high of a selection.

A viable alternative would be to draft center Michael Brewster from Ohio State.  Brewster is projected by several draft gurus to go somewhere in the late 3rd or early 4th rounds.  Brewster has been a rock for the Buckeyes, making 49 consecutive starts.   If available, the Raiders need to pounce on him.  I saw Brewster and Peter Konz, the consensus #1 overall center from Wisconsin, play several times this season.  Konz appeared to be slightly more polished, but had more help from fellow lineman around him than Brewster had at Ohio State.  Nonetheless, Konz has a chance to be a first round pick.  Getting Brewster as many as two rounds later would be exceptional value.  Drafting him would fill a void at center and eliminate the need to move Stefen Wisniewski from guard.

The fourth round might be where Oakland can help itself defensively.  The thing to keep in mind is that this defense will play 25% of its regular season games against Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers.  A knee jerk reaction would be to acquire more talent on the front seven to apply pressure to these elite quarterbacks.  Historically, however, Manning has proved to be more vulnerable against strong defensive backfields than consistent pressure in the pocket.  The Steelers and Patriots immediately come to mind.  Pittsburgh has flustered Manning by blitzing safeties and corners, while New England has enjoyed success against Manning by being physical with his receivers at the line.  Given that, it would be wise for the Raiders to bolster their secondary with a physically imposing defensive back with decent speed.  Alabama corner DeQuan Menzie fits that bill and should be available with the 129th pick.  At 5’11, 202 pounds, he was the Tide’s starting corner opposite likely first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick.  Nick Saban’s defensive schemes require his corners to be effective blitzers and Menzie was just that.

Oakland has 2 picks in round 5.  At this point, they have to start looking at the best players available, regardless of need.  Depth is a huge concern for this squad and these two fifth round picks are a great way to address it.  Boise State offensive tackle Nate Potter is a good place to start.  The All-Mountain West first teamer is seriously undervalued and should be available with the 148th pick.  Standing an imposing 6’6 and weighing 303 pounds, he anchored an offensive line that led the nation in fewest sacks allowed per game (0.67).  His skillset reminds some NFL scouts of New England’s 2011 first-round pick, Nate Solder.  You can’t do much better than scooping up a potential franchise tackle in round five.

With the 168th pick, the Raiders have a chance to add depth to a decent receiving core.  The Silver and Black are loaded with deep threats, but they don’t have anything on their roster like Iowa’s Marvin McNutt (pictured above).  McNutt was a superstar in a Big Ten conference loaded with talent.  He is one of those guys that was possibly hurt by the combine, but if NFL coaches pay attention to his game tapes, was a man among boys on the field.  Arguably the Big Ten’s most dangerous red-zone threat, this sure-handed receiver reminds me of a young Chad Ochocinco (the player, not the endzone side-show).  The fact that he’ll fall this far in the draft is less a knock on him and more of a testament to the wide receiver depth of this draft.   By drafting him, the Raiders would get a solid receiver who is poised to have a long and successful NFL career.

Rounding out the Raider’s draft weekend will be the 189th overall pick in the 6th round.  This is where the franchise needs to step up and take a low-risk gamble.  Carson Palmer is the man under center now, but for how long?  I honestly can’t see Terrelle Pryor as the franchise quarterback going forward.  The list of the best available quarterbacks on the board at this point should include the winningest college quarterback of all-time, Boise State’s Kellen Moore.  The comparisons to Drew Brees are inevitable because of Moore’s height (6’0), but to compare him to Brees on height alone would be selling him short.  His accuracy and pocket awareness combined with his leadership throughout his career were the catalysts of Boise State’s success over the past four seasons.  He has the “it-factor” and he wins.  Surely anyone who draws any sort of comparison to one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks merits a 6th round pick.

Regardless of the final decisions made in the Raider’s war room on draft day, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, Oakland’s selection strategy changes without Davis calling the shots for the first time since the 1970s.

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