My prediction is, after the 2013 NFL Draft, one of the most tweeted phrases will end up being:
“Go Home, Oakland Raiders – You Are Drunk”
Actually that could have been true for the last…oh, I don’t know…10 years or so?
The draft strategies (or lack of) for the Raiders have to take a huge step up if the team is to even attempt to solve the myriad of problems they have. The Raiders have a multitude of needs, some of which can be addressed in the draft if they play their cards right.
What they don’t need to do is to throw all the broken eggs into one basket and try to land a single marquee player, with the hopes that a magic arm or pair of bionic legs will resurrect their franchise.
Just look at the stats the Raiders posted for 2012:
Rush Offense – 88.8 ypg (28th)
Pass Offense – 255.3 ypg (8th)
Total Offense – 344.0 ypg (18th)
Scoring Offense – 18.1 ppg (26th)
Rush Defense – 118.6 ypg (18th)
Pass Defense – 235.9 ypg (20th)
Total Defense – 354.5 ypg (18th)
Scoring Defense – 27.7 ppg (28th)
That’s a stat line of a team that could draft someone for just about any position, and improve themselves. Even the passing yards stat is somewhat misleading. Anyone can clearly see that neither Carson Palmer nor Terrelle Pryor are the long-term QB solution in Oakland, so it’s not even ridiculous to think that the Raiders might be looking at quarterbacks.
With so many needs, and such a history of draft pick and free agent failures, what is the best move for Oakland?
I’d say build upon what they did in the 2012 draft, where they concentrated on linemen for both sides of the ball, and only took one skill player. Find a big right tackle, like 6’6, 313 lb Kyle Long (Oregon), or 6’5, 310 lb Menelik Watson (Florida State). Then find at least one good pass rusher, such as DE Sam Montgomery (LSU) or Corey Lemonier (Auburn).
Once those two needs have been filled, then the Raiders should turn their attention to the backfield. Darren McFadden hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season during his entire NFL career. Having McFadden healthy would be the first choice of the Raiders, but being as that doesn’t seem a likely scenario, taking a running back in the third or fourth round–like Stepfan Taylor (Stanford) or Mike Gillislee (Florida)–would at least give some depth behind McFadden.
With the relatively weak QB group in this year’s draft class, it’s unlikely the Raiders would find their franchise play-caller anyway, so they should be content with the Palmer-Pryor duo for now, and look to the 2014 draft to find a new quarterback to continue to build around.
As far as who Palmer or Pryor throw the ball to, the Raiders are loaded with promise and potential at the WR and TE positions. They should probably give at least one more season to see if some of that potential kicks in before they start cutting ties with some of the high draft picks they’ve taken. Right now WR Darrius Heyward-Bey is one of the most overvalued players in the league, and should he not deliver in 2013, the Raiders will most likely be saying buh-bye to their 2009 first round pick.
The Raiders have a tendency to want to make a splash in the draft. Perhaps this year they should continue to just make ripples, and build a solid unit that will grow and compete for years to come.