This is the third and final installment in a series discussing how the 2011 NFL Draft results will alter the opponents on the Raiders' Schedule. In case you missed the exciting results from parts one and two—you can catch up rright here. I pointed out last time the trend of Raiders opponents beefing up there front-seven. That trend is not as prevalent in the final four Raiders non-conference opponents, but they do face two of the best defensive tackles in the 2011 NFL Draft class. Stefen Wisniewski is going to earn his money in this stretch.
Week 12: Chicago Bears
Key Rooks: OT, Gabe Carimi, DT, Stephen Paea, S, Chris Conte
Summary: The Bears kinda almost traded up with the Raves to make sure they could draft Carimi before the Chiefs snagged him. The trade didn't go through, the Chiefs passed on Carimi, and the Bears got the lineman they wanted and needed. I expect Carimi to be starting on Week One. He has plenty of experience, and the Bears offensive line has the need. There is some question if Carimi can handle the edge well enough to be a tackle in the NFL, which should work out well for Wimbley, or whoever the Raiders line up over him on passing downs.
DT, Paea is a large and strong man. He set the Combine record for bench reps. If he isn't starting he will get plenty of snaps on run downs, and he is just adding to a defense that is pretty stout against the run anyway. S, Chris Conte is more of a project pick, and I doubt the Bears are planning on him making much of an impact his rookie year.
All in all, while the Bears spent their first pick on offensive line unless they bring in some free agent talent this is still going to be a serious weakness.
Week 13: @ Miami Dolphins
Key Rooks: C/G, Mike Pouncey, RB, Daniel Thomas, WR, Edmund Gates, TE, Charles Clay
Summary: The Dolphins offensive line was the strength of their team. It was the main reason why they were able to run all over the Raiders in '10. They were a little thin and aging on the interior of that line. Hence the pick of Mike Pouncey. Pouncey should be the starter from day one, and he is going to be charged with opening up some holes for Daniel Thomas.
Thomas is a compact and powerful back, and he should get plenty of carries next season. Neither Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown are currently under contract, and the Dolphins plan on being a run heavy team. Edmund Gates is a speedy and raw receiver. He is probably too raw to make much of an impact in his rookie year, but he will be a big play threat every time he steps onto the field. TE, Charles Clay may actually make more of an impact in the receiving game this year than Gates.
The Dolphins are setting up to be a grind it out team, and if Pouncey takes the reins like the anticipate they'll have the offensive line to do so. They did nothing to improve their defense in this draft, but they did not have many holes on D.
Week 14: @ Green Bay Packers
Key Rooks: OT, Derrek Sherrod, WR, Randall Cobb, RB, Alex Green, CB, Davon House
Summary: It is good to be the Kings. The Packers had very few needs or holes to fill. They mostly were drafting for depth. I wouldn't expect any of the players to be starting this season, unless the Packers get bit by the injury bug. Cobb will undoubtedly get some looks in the Packers spread sets, and maybe as a return man. He is fairly explosive, and may turn into a dynamic slot receiver.
Davon House was a great value, and will likely get some run in dime sets. The Packers aren't going to see much of an immediate impact from this class and they don't need to.
Week 15: Detroit Lions
Key Rooks: DT, Nick Fairley, WR, Titus Young, RB, Mikel Leshoure
Summary: The Detroit Lions defensive line is a little scary. I am hoping that by this point of the season the Lions are out of the playoffs, and the questionably lazy Fairley is mailing it in. This is going to be quite the test for Stefen Wisniewski.
The Lions also added some serious firepower on offense. Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure both should make their impact felt early and often. Leshoure will be an excellent compliment to Jahvid Best. While the Lions got tremendous value out of this draft they also failed to address positions of need at corner and offensive line. The QBs in this game need to be afraid.