Pick Number 4 Addressing Needs

7 04 2008

The Raiders have the 4th pick in this month’s coming draft and there is still not a consensus choice among Raiders fans. Some say they want to address the defensive line by drafting Glenn Dorsey or Vernon Gholston. Others want to draft McFadden or Jake Long. Where do we really need help?

Needs

Offensive Line

Jake Long                                                            Ryan Clady

This offseason, the Raiders cut last year’s starting left tackle, Barry Sims. This was an interesting move since it alludes to the fact that our offensive line coach, Tom Cable, thinks Mario Henderson is at least as good as Sims. If that is the case then Jamarcus Russell’s blindside could be in a dangerous position. We traded this year’s third rounder for Mario Henderson and he has not accomplished much in his one season with the Raiders. It would seem a little risky to put the livelihood of our future superstar quarterback in the hands of a second year player who failed to supplant anyone on the offensive line last year. It should be noted that we signed tackle Kwame Harris from the 49ers this offseason, but he played primarily at right tackle and did not impress across the bay. Kiffin has mentioned that they have been practicing with Kwame Harris at left tackle, which must mean that he has more mobility than average for a tackle. Ever since last year’s improved offensive line play, I have faith in Kiffin and Tom Cable to fix any problems. Since the Raiders utilize a zone-blocking scheme, the traits we look for in our offensive line differs from traits that might be seen in traditional offensive linemen. For instance, speed and athletic ability are much more valuable than size and bulk for linemen. This scheme decreased the amount of sacks allowed last year and increased the amount of rushing yards. If we were to draft for the offensive line, we would be looking at Jake Long or Ryan Clady. Long not only has size and strength, but he has mobility too. He ran one of the fastest offensive line 40s at the combine. If he is taken, he could probably start at left tackle on opening day or right tackle at the very least. Clady is slightly smaller but he played in a zone blocking scheme during his college years at Boise State. He is quick and has huge potential at left tackle. However, he is not valuable enough to draft him with the number 4 pick. Best case scenario: Either draft Jake Long or trade down and grab more draft picks and take an offensive lineman early.

Defensive LIne

Chris Long                                                                   Sedrick Ellis

The Raiders locked up defensive tackle/end Tommy Kelly this past offseason. He will predictably fill Warren Sapp’s retired presence as a three-technique on the defensive line. Currently, our other starting tackle is Terdell Sands, who played dismally last year right after signing a huge contract. The Raiders were horrible at stopping the run last year and an improvement on the defensive line is the starting point for improving this. Drafting Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis would improve our sack count and allow our linebackers to make plays on the running back. As is, our defensive line is not adequate since the only change that occurred was the loss of Warren Sapp to retirement. Best case scenario: We draft Sedrick Ellis with number 4 or trade down and hope he falls to us. In terms of our defensive ends, the only presence we have on the pass rush is Derrick Burgess. He had a downer last year, but he looks to bounce back, especially if he gets help opposite from him in the draft. This help could come in the form of Chris Long or Vernon Gholston. Both played defensive end and outside linebacker in college and both are tremendous athletes. Both can get to the quarterback and help stuff runs outside the offensive tackles. Best case scenario: Chris Long amazingly falls to us and we draft him with the 4th pick overall.

Outside LInebacker

Keith Rivers

Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard can both be future Pro-Bowlers. They are great in coverage and look to improve on run-defense. However, the platoon of Robert Thomas and Sam Williams at outside linebacker is not enough. Neither are sure tacklers and an upgrade is at the bottom of the list of needs but it could still be addressed. Best case scenario: Trade down and draft Keith Rivers in the middle of the first round.

NOT Needs

Darren McFadden

To start with, I should say flat out that we do not need another running back. Last season we we’re among the top in the league in rushing yards even though we had a mediocre offensive line. Not to mention the fact that we have Lamont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush as possible starters. What could Darren McFadden bring to the Raiders in the event that we do draft him? Well, I’m sure by now you’ve seen highlight videos of him at Arkansas running past everyone in the SEC. You may have even seen him throwing a pass or two in their Wildhog formation. Bottom line, McFadden has the ability to break the game open with a huge run. Paired with J-Russell, our quarterback and running back positions would be set for a decade. However, in case some people forgot, we still have a home-run threat in Michael Bush. Look up some videos of him busting out huge plays back at Louisville. We picked him up in the fourth round of the 2007 draft after he broke his tibia early in the college football season. He was projected to be a top ten pick when the 2007 draft came around but he dropped due to his injury. Now he is fully healed and will look to compete for playing time against our other running backs. Dominic Rhodes took a pay cut in order to come back in 2008 which means that Lamont Jordan will be either cut or traded. Hopefully we can get a draft pick for him.

Availability

Who will be available when the Raiders draft at number 4?

Jake Long will be gone to Miami at number 1.

Chris Long will be gone to St. Louis at number 2.

Glenn Dorsey will be gone to Atlanta at number 3.

And with number 4, the Raiders select Sedrick Ellis or Vernon Gholston

Vernon Gholston on the prowl

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