We start our 2011 draft previews with the only team that doesn’t have a first-round selection in this year’s draft. The Raiders are sitting the opening round out because they gave up their top pick two years ago in a trade for Richard Seymour. But as Chris Hansen of Raiders-Blog.com explains, not having an early pick isn’t always a bad thing.
1. How much does not having a first-round pick hurt this team?
I really don’t think it hurts the Raiders. Richard Seymour was acquired for the pick and continues to be a dominating force on the field and in the locker room.
It could also be said the Raiders are much better drafting later in the draft and the recent history backs it up. Matt Shaughnessy, Jacoby Ford, Lamarr Houston, etc.
2. The fact that free agency likely won’t take place until after the draft makes things particularly difficult this year. Do you think the Raiders will target players to replace guys like Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff?
Yes and no. The team paid Hiram Eugene as a fringe starter and also have Stevie Brown, who played the second most snaps last season at free safety to Huff.
The team has said cornerback Jeremy Ware could eventually move to safety. If the Raiders don’t bring back Huff, the replacement will likely come from within.
Asomugha is a different case entirely. The Raiders were thin at cornerback last season and Huff had to step in and play corner at times. If the Raiders are content to move on without Asomugha and Huff they will likely target a cornerback in the draft.
3. Any chance they take a quarterback with that second-round pick?
The organization wants to get behind Jason Campbell and wants no part of another quarterback controversy like the one that transpired last season between Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski.
Drafting a quarterback early would invite a controversy, even if it made sense to draft a developmental QB like Ryan Mallett that Hue Jackson can mold.
4. Any chance they trade up into the first round?
Since next year’s picks and players can’t be traded, I don’t think Al Davis has enough to do it, but with Davis, you can never be surprised.
5. What’s their biggest need? Offensive line comes to mind.
Absolutely the offensive line is the greatest need. Outside of cornerback one could make a case that there are no other glaring weaknesses.
The only player that is assured a spot on the offensive line is Jared Veldheer.
Robert Gallery and the team decided to part ways and the rest of the players are free agents, unproven or may no longer fit the scheme of Hue Jackson.
If the Raiders don’t address the offensive line, it will be difficult for the team to improve its eight-win 2010 season.