Thursday, April 24, 2008

How I Would Like the Oakland Raiders to Do the 2008 NFL Draft

Oakland Raiders, laughingstocks of the National Football League for the past several seasons, had a bit of a breakthrough in 2007. Although they went 4-12 last year the Silver and Black demonstrated a level of competitiveness and (six losses by 10 points or less) and competence under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin that had been sorely lacking in the Bay Area.

Following that encouraging campagin it's been a busy offseason in Oakland. To summarize, the big additions were CB DeAngelo Hall, FS Gibril Wilson, WR Javon Walker and DT William Joseph. Major losses include DT Warren Sapp, OT Barry Sims, WR Jerry Porter and return specialist Chris Carr.

The Raiders have only five selections in this year's draft. In order to take the next step the team needs to address several areas of deficiency. Barring any trades, this is a realistic Raiders draft board I wish would happen this weekend:

Round 1, Pick 4 (4)
Chris Long, DE (Virginia)

Let's see. Oakland needs a pass rusher to complement Derrick Burgess. Oakland fans would love a high-character, high-motor guy. Howie Long, Chris' father, was a Hall of Fame lineman for the Silver and Black. The Raiders can't do any better than selecting the All-American prodigy.

Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis and Vernon Gholston are other players that would greatly improve the Raiders run defense. Darren McFadden, possibly the best prospect in the draft and certainly the most exciting (and marketable), plays a position where the Raiders have an arsenal of good options. Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes, Lamont Jordan and Michael Bush (who missed last season with an injury) aren't elite running backs but a team doesn't need a Pro Bowl in the backfield to win. Remember the Giants won the Super Bowl with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and an aggressive defensive line.

Round 4, Pick 5 (104)
Lavelle Hawkins, WR (California)

Even with the addition of injury-prone Javon Walker the Raiders receiving corps is far from stable. Last year's top wideout, Jerry Porter, signed with Jacksonville. Ronald Curry, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Drew Carter hardly strike fear into the opposing team's defensive coordinator. Although DeSean Jackson received most of the accolades playing for California it was Hawkins who was the most consistent receiver for the Golden Bears. Take at look at their collegiate numbers:

Games Receptions Total Yards TD
Hawkins 42 159 3729 19
Jackson 36 162 3293 29

Note: Hawkins played seven games at community college before transferring to Cal.

Lavelle doesn't have DeSean's burst he's nearly as productive and would be a great addition in the middle rounds for a team looking for a vertical passing game.

Round 6, Pick 3 (169)
Oniel Cousins, T (UTEP)

The Raiders should select at least one offensive lineman in this draft. Cousins is a converted defensive tackle who's big (6'4", 308) and quick. Despite playing the O-line for only two years Oniel was named All-Conference USC first team in 2007. There's a good chance Cousins, a workout wonder, won't be on the board by Round 6. If that's the case Oakland could still get G Drew Radovich or T Geoff Schwartz.

Round 7, Pick 6 (213)
Marcus Monk, WR (Arkansas)

An imposing athlete at 6'4", 222 pounds and the all-time leader in receiving TD at Arkansas, Monk was highly productive his first three seasons. A series of leg injuries curtailed his senior campaign (16 catches, 144 yards, 3 TD), which in turn has the once mid-round draft prospect on the outside looking in. Monk has durability issues but his upside makes him a worthwhile gamble that could pay off huge.

Round 7, Pick 19 (226) (From Vikings through Jets)
Thomas Williams, OLB (Southern California)

Played the linebacker unit and special teams for the Trojans. Not the fastest or strongest guy on the field but always plays with passion. At the very least he's a guy with an unrelenting motor who's all about the team. Sounds like a diamond in the rough.

1 comment:

DUKE50 said...

In response to the 6th round pick, Geoff Schwartz on film is hands down better than Cousins and Radnovich! So many people say turn on the film of Jeff Otah, Turn on Schwartz film, HE DOMINATED EVERY END HE PLAYED THIS YEAR! Remember the ends he has to go against: USC, CAL , USF, UCLA (bruce davis started out the game on Schwartz's side and was dominated ), MICHIGAN, ASU!