Regina defensive lineman Akiem Hicks does a footwork drill during the NFL Combine
The Raiders have two solid starters at defensive tackle in Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. They also have one good backup in Desmond Bryant. But what they don't have is a nose tackle. And with the hybrid switch, that is exactly what they need.
Nose tackle is an in-demand position for many teams. Good ones are often hard to find and once a team gets their guy, they hold onto them. The two best nose tackles are going to be gone before the Raiders make their first pick. The third guy on the board is less certain.
Here are the strongest defensive tackle options for the Raiders in the 2012 draft.
Josh Chapman, Alabama Round 3
Chapman is that third option of whom I speak. The 6-1, 315 pounder was the anchor of the defensive line for the National Champion Alabama Crimson tide. He had surgery to repair a torn ACL last January and if not for the injury, he would undoubtedly be a more highly rated prospect.
He started all but one game (due to injury) at nose guard in his senior season and 25 overall during his career at Alabama. He was named honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly, second-team All-SEC by league coaches and the Associated Press. As a display of his worth to the Alabama defense, the one game he missed as a senior, Georgia Southern ran for 302 yards on them.
Akiem Hicks, Regina (CAN) Round 5
He is a stout 6-4, 324 pounds and has the pass rush abilities of a defensive end. He is also somewhat of a local product as a native of Elk Grove California and later attending Sacramento City College. It was there that he became one of the hottest junior college recruits in the nation and was recruited by LSU among others. He would have attend LSU but was instead forced to play in Canada due to some recruiting violations by their coaching staff. He played in the East-West Shrine game where he showed himself to be clearly superior to the bulk of the talent on the field. He is one of those freak of nature types that are big but carry the weight well. A physique and athleticism reminiscent of Darrell Russell.
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor Round 6
Despite playing in every game for Baylor the past four seasons, Jean-Baptiste is still considered somewhat of a developmental player. He has the work ethic to continue to improve and with his 6-1, 335 frame, it may be worth seeing if he can. Not to say he isn't already talented. He was, after all, named to the All-Big 12 second team after starting all 12 games for the first time last season and amassing 36 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 3 balls batted down.