Why are the Oakland Raiders seemingly the most forgotten team in the 2011 NFL Draft discussion? Well, mainly because they are the only team without a selection in the first round. The Raiders traded their 2011 first round pick to the New England Patriots for Richard Seymour a couple of years ago, and that trade seemed to pay some dividends for the Raiders, who finally were able to achieve single-digit losses for the first time since 2002 last year. The Raiders also were the best team in the AFC West in terms of division record. They absolutely dominated their AFC West foes throughout the year, but inconsistent quarterback play prevented them from making a playoff run.
What do the Raiders need to do to continue their success they had last year?
The biggest thing for the Raiders is going to be how they replace Nnamdi Asomugha. The Raiders doled out a ton of cash to the aforementioned Richard Seymour and voided Asomugha’s contract because he did not meet “incentives”. This would seem like a complete screw up on the part of the Raiders, and it likely is. If they lose Asomugha, it will be a gigantic hit to their defense.
The Raiders also have to figure out what to do with some of their other key free agents. Michael Huff, Michael Bush, Robert Gallery, Zach Miller, among others will likely have expiring contracts when a new CBA is reached, and it’s unknown how many of those guys the Raiders will be able to keep. One has to wonder if their fan base is nervous about another potential decline if their team is broken up.
What the Raiders have done the last couple of years that they did not do any of the years prior was draft some good players. In last year’s draft alone, the Raiders managed to come away with no less than three impact players when they selected Rolando McClain, LaMarr Houston, and Jacoby Ford, all of whom made significant contributions.
The biggest question mark–in my opinion–is the quarterback position. I don’t think Jason Campbell is the long term answer, and neither is Bruce Gradkowski. I think the Raiders would be in the market to take Colin Kaepernick in the first round if they still had the 17th pick in the draft, and picking near the middle of the second round, it might be too little too late for them to get a decent quarterback, because they are expected to fly off the board prior to that point.
Al Davis loves one thing when he is looking at the draft board–speed. Expect the Raiders to target guys again with a ton of speed and athleticism.
Oakland could use a boost at outside linebacker, cornerback, quarterback, and possibly tight end. They also might need some offensive linemen, though they did draft a couple of guys last year who could have starter potential.
It will be interesting to see if the Raiders try to work out a sign-and-trade for a guy like Asomugha or something to get back into the first round, but one thing is for sure–they need to take a quarterback.
One guy who makes sense–based on the speed and athleticism factor–is Colin Kaepernick, but he is expected now to go in the first round. Another guy that makes a lot of sense is Tyrod Taylor, who the Raiders could get in the middle rounds. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with their first pick, but with the CBA and no first rounder, fans have got to be on the edge of their seat, hoping and praying that the Raiders can keep some continuity from last season.
Follow us on twitter @nflmocks