Alright, alright when it comes to the free safeties of the 2011 NFL Draft we have discussed the ones we like and/or the ones the Raiders have shown interest in. With Robert Sands, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Chris Culliver, Chris Prosinski and Marcus Gilchrist there seems to be no way the Raiders will pick a free safety we haven't discussed. So, they will probably take someone we haven't discussed.
All that is left now is a casting of the ballots (no hanging chads please). Consider your choice carefully and thoughtfully and I will be sending the results directly to Al Davis via pigeon air mail. I hope that is not too high tech for him and don't worry; I'm sure they'll get there—I got the pigeons from Mike Tyson. First a quick recap:
Sands has experience in the single deep set. He is a big hitter. He is just plain big. At 6'5" he has unusual height for a free safety. Of course, that is also part of the reason why he might not make it as a free safety. He can be stiff and slow in changing directions, which can be problematic as he lacks good speed for the secondary to begin with. He is almost certainly going to be available when the Raiders select in the third and maybe in the fourth.
Jarrett is another big hitter. He is much smoother in his movements than Jarrett. Jarett has solid instincts, which is good, because he is slow and can occasionally struggle with his angles. He makes up for his lack of speed with incredible balance, quickness and efficiency of movement. He plays with passion and intensity. He is strong in run support. The big worry with Jarrett is that he will not be able to cover enough ground. The Raiders should have a chance to draft Jarrett in third, but that is certainly not a guarantee.
Culliver is an explosive athlete, but he has yet to put his skills to full use on the football field. He may be caught between positions and looks like he is better suited for corner. This could be of value to the Raiders as they could use the depth at corner, but ultimately we are searching for a free safety, and Culliver has some serious question marks there. Culliver's potential means he may be gone by the time the Raiders pick in the third. I see this guy as a poor man's Michael Huff. Which is bad, because Michael Huff is a poor man's capable free safety.
Prosinski is a surprisingly freakish athlete, but he has not yet figured out how to translate all of that athleticism onto the field. He covers a lot of ground, but he lacks explosiveness. He is a sure tackler, but not a big hitter. He would really struggle to get off blocks, and he lacks the quick twitch to change directions. He is, however, going to be available late—maybe even the seventh-round. He reminds me a little of Stuart Schweigert.
Gilchrist is another explosive athlete that is somewhat caught between positions. Scouts feel he could play corner and free safety in the NFL. He looks better suited for free safety to me. He is a solid tackler, but far from a big hitter. He has decent ball skills, and a fairly high ceiling, but he is raw and probably at least a year away from being a legit starter. For whatever it is worth he is a very accomplished return man.
There's are list of candidates. What do y'all think? It seems many are on the Sands-Jarrett bandwagon. Well, it is time to pick one or the other.
Me, I like Gilchrist, but I don't like the fact that he isn't likely to contribute right away. So, he is off the list. Originally I liked Sands, but I am off that bandwagon. I think he is going to be constantly a step late in coverage. So he won't mind when the Raiders are a round late drafting him.
Prosinski is easily worth a late-round look if the Raiders don't take one of these other guys, but there are a handful of players worth late-round looks
That leaves us with Jarrett. Of all the rookies he seems like the most likely to be able to contribute right away. However, I am not sold he is worth a third-round pick.
His big hits are nice, but given a choice between coverage skills and hitting, I'll take the free safety with coverage skills. I want a free safety that is going to help limit those wide open redzone TD passes. Jarrett is not a disaster in coverage, but I don't think he'd be an upgrade.
While I do believe he would be an upgrade in run support, I'd prefer they took a linebacker in the third so safeties weren't needed as much in run support in the first place.
So, after all of this, I say pass on 'em all. I don't like the value they offer. It is a slim free agent crop—take a look for yourself—but I say the Raiders try to bring in someone to compete and patch the defensive backfield together.
At this point, I think I am leaning towards a weakside linebacker in the third, or another offensive linemen (assuming they go OL in the second). They will be able to get a higher quality player, and a much better value.
Anyway, vote away. This wasn't the easiest thing to put in poll form, but I think I got a good representation of reasonable choices.