Oakland Raiders 2012 NFL Draft Team Needs
The Oakland Raiders are starting from scratch. Maybe. There has been talk about them switching to a 3-4 defense, but there also have been rumors that they’re sticking with the 4-3. Regardless, they have a lot of work to do.
Things might be getting better in Oakland, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen over night. Here’s a look at the biggest issues on both sides of the ball, and how they might address them in this year’s draft:
Offensive Needs: QB, TE
Terrelle Pryor is as raw as it gets and Carson Palmer isn’t the long-term answer. With just five picks in this draft and all five coming in round three or later, it looks like Oakland will have to tank and hope for the best in 2012. However, if a solid quarterback prospect like Kirk Cousins or Nick Foles slides to them in the third or fourth, they might take notice.
Tight end is a glaring hole. However, it depends how much the new regime really cares, or what they want to do with the position. I highly doubt they’ll spend their highest pick on a tight end upgrade, but I could see them looking at guys like Michael Egnew, Taylor Thompson or Evan Rodriguez in the fourth or fifth round.
Elsewhere, Oakland could always beef up the depth on their offensive line, and they could also consider landing a bigger running back to backup the often-injured Darren McFadden. Michael Bush is gone and Taiwan Jones is more of a third-down back.
Defensive Needs: CB, LB
If Oakland makes the switch to the 3-4 as they’ve been rumored to be thinking about, then they’re pretty much screwed entering 2012. They have too many 4-3 parts that simply won’t transition. So, rather than draw a map with a key detailing all the many ways this will blow up for Oakland, I’ll stick to their current 4-3 and hope that’s what they roll with.
If they’re in the 4-3, their defensive line is pretty darn good. If they switch, they have to get a good 3-4 nose tackle, which they currently don’t have. They could force it with one of their big guys, but it simply wouldn’t work.
However, since it looks like for now they’re set with the 4-3, their biggest needs appear to be at corner and shoring up their line-backing corps. If they’re set with Phillip Wheeler as a starting outside linebacker, that’s fine. They could go a lot worse. But if they want to upgrade, they could look at Sean Spence or Terrell Manning.
Now, onto the big question mark. In two straight years, the Raiders have lost their best corners. They’re now down to a bunch of scrubs who are either inexperienced, not good enough, or coming off of injury-riddled 2011 seasons. In other words, even if Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell hang tight, Oakland at least needs to address the future of the position.
The third or fourth round would be a good place to start. It’d be nice to land a versatile guy like Chase Minnifield, who can develop into a solid cover man, but can also help out in the return game. Casey Hayward and Ron Brooks are two other prospects who could be solid NFL corners, but should also be available in at least the third round.
As I said, Oakland isn’t going to make everything right again in one season. This year could go down in bigger glames than 2011. In fact, it probably will. And if they try to suddenly switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, it’ll only be worse.