With the 2012 NFL season coming to a close soon, we can start looking to the draft. If the season ended today the Raiders would have the 3rd overall pick in the draft. They will probably beat the Chiefs tomorrow so that could very well change their draft position as there are currently five 4-win teams. (Titans, Eagles, Lions, Panthers, and Cardinals) I won't get into the possible scenarios as to how the draft positioning will shake out. I will instead make my case as to who I think the Raiders should draft.
My pick for the Raiders in the 2013 NFL draft is Star Lotulelei. The Raiders really can't stop the run or the pass this year and I feel that they should try to tackle one of the problems before solving the other. Fixing both in the same offseason is just not realistic. If you can consistently stop the run, it will make stopping the pass easier.
Lotulelei is a beast. He consistently drew double teams and still performed. His play may not reflect in the stat sheet but opponents certainly noticed him and always took into account where he was on the field. Star is simply massive and very quick for his size. He is good against the run and has some pass rush skills. My hope is that he develops into a Haloti Ngata type of player. Seymour and Kelly are both old and are more pass rushing DTs than run stopping. A lot of the runs coming against us are up the middle and Star would definitely help in this area. Looking back at our ranking in the yards rushing allowed per game, the Raiders have been consistently bad (among the 5 worst) the last several years. Star would help improve our run defense considerably.
Another reason I want Lotuleli is because of maturity. He will be 24 in his rookie year. He already has a wife and a kid. I'm hoping that will make him mature and we won't have another idiot on the team like McClain.
I like the ideas thrown around for drafting DE and pass rushing OLBs and they would certainly help our passing defense and our sack totals but we still have big issues with our defensive backs. We allow way too many 1st downs on 3rd and long and with our shaky defensive back situation I'm not so sure adding a pass rusher will improve us that much against the pass.
The keys to stopping the run are generally DTs and MLBs. Te'o is a beast but there are still other good middle linebackers out there that should be available in later rounds. For example, Stanford's Shayne Skov was playing really well a couple years ago before tearing his ACL. He is only starting to get his explosiveness back now. He should be available in round 3 or 4 for us.
Let me know what you guys think.