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2011 NFL Oakland Raiders Draft Results: My take on Wiz 2.0, Van Dyke and Jones

Greetings! Been too long since I've been here.  Anyway, since I'm a complete and irredeemable draft geek, I thought I'd come share a few observations that I made of some of the Oakland Raiders draft picks, both during the season (I always take notes on top prospects intending to start a draft site which I never do) and from watching extended highlights on YouTube.  This will be neither long nor very extensive, but I wanted to share.

Stefen Wisniewski - First thing you notice about Wiz 2.0 is that he's a battler.  From snap to whistle, he's always playing and giving maximum effort.  If he's blocked his guy down, he'll go look for someone else to hit.  He never quits.  Secondly, his technique is flawless.  I love how he sets his feet and uses his hands effectively.  He's also rarely on the ground or moving backwards.  He's either pushing ahead or standing his guy up. 

If I have a concern about him (and this has been the knock I've read elsewhere) it's how well he can fare as the center in a drive blocking scheme emphaszing bludgeoning your opponent to death, particularly in the run game.  I actually love his pass blocking, where he can use his technique and football IQ to hold his own.  What worries me is his ability to blast open holes, especially against some of the 3-4 nose tackles in the league these days.  I'm not sure he has the pure strength and I worry he may be better suited to a zone scheme.  I hope he's spending a ton of time in the weight room waiting for the lockout to end and if reports about his work ethic and character are true, I'm sure he is.

Besides, if he's not, his uncle will end his life.

DeMarcus Van Dyke - If you're one of the crowd who doesn't like Asomugha because he doesn't make a lot of interceptions, then be prepared to hate Van Dyke.  He's not a playmaker in that sense.  He's a prototypical Raiders corner though:  tall, fast, and (potentially) awesome in man coverage.  He mirrors his guy exceptionally well and uses his length to bat away incoming passes.  He won't make many picks, but he can hopefully turn into an Asomugha-like player that can erase half the field through his technique and smarts.  Right now, I think his biggest flaw (other than being totally raw) is his run support ability.  He's a skinny dude, can he come up and smack an oncoming running back the way Nnamdi can?  With the way the Raiders run defense can be, that's an important question.

Taiwan Jones - His greatest asset?  His speed, duh.  He's as fast as advertised.  His acceleration is ridiculous and he hits the hole fast.  He's not a guy who dances around a lot.  He just goes ahead.  Love his moves in the open field.  He wasn't used a whole lot in the passing game at Eastern Washington (64 catches in 24 games the past 2 seasons) but from what I've seen, I'm excited to see him utilized in just that fashion.  I can honestly see him becoming a Charlie Garner type.  He's a tremendous home run threat.

I do have some large concerns though and they stem more from what I don't know than what I do, if that makes sense.  Watching the film, I was struck by something:  the holes Jones has to run through were always the size of a Mack truck.  Eastern Washington must've had a beast of an offensive line because Jones was constantly running through the Grand Canyon and hitting the second level instantly.  That's not going to happen in the NFL.  Can he pick his way through the muck and pick up the tough but necessary yardage?  Secondly, because of those huge running lanes and that blazing speed, I rarely saw him take many hits.  Again, that's not going to happen in the NFL.  Can he take a big time wallop and the consistent battering pro running backs absorb?

So, that's my take.  I'd offer some thoughts on Barksdale, but I have to cut it short and go right now (real life interferes!)  In brief:  great value where they took him; with proper coaching he could be a stupendous right tackle.  Sort of like Bruce Campbell, but with less pure athleticism but also less bust potential.

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