Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
There are a lot of different options that come with the 3rd overall pick in the draft, which is good because there are a lot of different positions that the Raiders need to fill. What direction would you go with the pick?
The first thing that I want to do is trade back in the draft. Trading back and stockpiling picks is the most efficient way to create a contender. With the 3rd pick in the draft there are plenty of teams that might be willing to trade up, however I wouldn't blame the Raiders for staying put and drafting one of the possibly elite players at number 3 either.
The most glaring weakness of the Raiders last year was absolutely their pass rush. There were several individual players in the NFL that had more sacks by themselves than the Raiders had altogether. When your player leading the team in sacks only has 4 total sacks there is clearly something majorly wrong.
With that being said it would lead most to believe that the Raiders will be looking to add either a defensive lineman or pass rushing outside linebacker. Don't jump too quick on the Star Loutelie bandwagon though because there are definitely some excellent pass rushers in this class.
DT Star Loutelie of Utah- The previously mentioned Star Loutelie is a defensive tackle that would demand extra attention on the inside and that could help the sack potential and running defense by freeing up other players to make plays. Drafting Star also could allow the Raiders to run a more multi-scheme defense with some 3-4 looks because Loutelie would be able to man the all important Nose Tackle position.
He is a powerful player that is able to do the things necessary to be a successful nose tackle in the NFL and definitely would be a useful asset to the Raiders. The Raiders probably should have drafted BJ Raji when they had the chance and could rectify that mistake with picking Star this year.
ILB/OLB Alec Ogletree of Georgia- Alec is a physical specimen and incredibly versatile. He actually was an inside linebacker at Georgia but he easily could transition to an outside linebacker in the NFL if that is what a team wants to do with him. He is a rare player that is very capable in coverage and in tackling.
Just to show how versatile Ogletree is I will also mention that when he got to the Bulldogs as a Freshman he actually was playing Safety. That versatility of playing inside or outside linebacker with his ability to cover makes him a very intriguing prospect.
OLB Jarvis Jones of Georgia- Not interested in Ogletree? How about his teammate Jarvis Jones who is also a monster on the outside. He is a quick OLB with good tackling ability but I would skip him for a couple of reasons.
One is at 242lbs he is better suited for a 3-4 defense where he can stand and rush the passer more often. If the Raiders were to draft him it would definitely be specifically to rush the passer but I would prefer to add a linebacker that is a little bigger than Jones is.
His size is not nearly as big of a reason for me not really wanting to draft him though as is his medical diagnosis of having spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine which causes pressure on the spinal cord. Its a condition that worsens over time where the disks in the back become drier and start to bulge while the bones and ligaments of the spine grow thicker. That does not sound good for a professional athlete.
That isn't to say he is guaranteed going to have problems during his football career but the chance of problems occurring are definitely increased. When it comes to back injuries my stance is pretty simple, just say no! If he were to fall in the draft due to this medical problem though I would consider drafting him later on, but not in the top 10.
DE Bjoern Werner of Florida State- If the Raiders do want to add a pass rusher I have to admit the one that I most would like to see is German born Bjoern Werner out of Florida State. What I find most impressive about Bjoern is that he didn't start playing football until he was 15 years old. That makes him still very raw and yet he was possibly the most impressive DE in college. The Raiders would likely have to stay put at 3 to get him though.
Werner is somebody who is absolutely a football player. His biggest strength is his quickness but he is also very strong. Despite his rawness he has already shown a strong ability to recognize plays and even better he knows how to get his hands up to block passes at the line. As JJ Watt showed this year that talent is incredibly useful and is going to be something that defensive players are taught aggressively in the future.
Other defensive line and linebacker options are: DE Dion Jordan of Oregon, OLB Damontre Moore of Texas A&M, MLB Manti Te'o of Notre Dame, OLB Barkevious Mingo of LSU, DT Johnathan Hankins of Ohio State, DT Sheldon Richardon of Missouri
Now that the more obvious choices are taken care of I would like to offer an alternative. Its a big alternative that a lot of people will probably think I am crazy for believing in but I might actually like to go Offensive Line.
LT Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M- That best player available argument would specifically be for Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel. The Raiders pick 3rd and that might be 2 picks too late for the behemoth that protected Johnny "Football" Manziel's blind side this past year though. There seems to be more and more evidence that Joeckel is drawing the interest of the Chiefs and Andy Reid with their 1st overall selection.
Luke is 6'6 and 310lbs with good long arms. He is athletic enough to seal the edge and strong enough to hold off power rushers. The last time that I remember seeing a lineman that I was so sure of was with Joe Thomas who has made the pro bowl in every year since he was drafted in '07. Joeckel has the whole package and unless he goes all Tony Manderich on whoever picks him promises to be a very good Tackle for a very long time.
I love the Raiders LT Jared Veldheer, although he did struggle a bit this past year with the ZBS. I do not consider him to be a weakness but the right side of the line very much is a weakness. If the Raiders were lucky enough to see Joeckel slide to them at number 3 they would be able to move Veldheer to that weak RT slot and immediately the ends of the offensive line would be set for the next 10 years.
OG Chance Warmack of Alabama- Another very intriguing offensive line prospect is Chance Warmack an OG out of Alabama. There are a ton of things to like about Chance even though he is a little short at 6'2. What he lacks in height though he makes up for in weight at 320 and he has surprisingly long arms for his height. That combination of size and arm length actually helps him use his shorter frame to his advantage by really knowing how to use his leverage well.
Warmack has been moving up the draft boards and is now projected as a top 10 pick. I had been hoping he would fall a little farther to give the Raiders a better opportunity of trading down and still getting him. I would not be at all against picking him and teaming him with Stefon Wisnewski to help solidify the middle.
Other Offfensive line options are: Alabama C Barrett Jones, Alabama OT D.J. Fluker, Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher, or North Carolina OG Jonathon Cooper.
The next most likely position to be drafted is at the Cornerback position. There are a few current prospects that are likely to go in the first round at corner and any one of them would be day 1 starters for the Raiders.
CB Dee Millner of Alabama- I consider Dee Millner to be the top Corner in this draft for one main reason, his tackling. He doesn't make a lot of interceptions although he does break up plenty of passes but what I love about him is his ability to seal the edge.
He does not shy away from contact and instead he embraces it. I love to have corners that are not afraid to hit the runner and he would go a long way towards helping stop some of the big play runs that are always killers. He is 6'1 and 198lbs so he is a pretty big corner too to match up against the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Dwayne Bowe.
CB Xavier Rhodes of Florida State- What I love about Rhodes is that he is 6'2 and 215lbs, but what I don't like about him is that he does not have great speed. He may even end up converting to Safety because of his size and lack of speed but he is somebody who can jam receivers at the line very well.
I love the big body that he brings because he reminds me of the Seahawks corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner who both have similar size. The future of the NFL are these larger corners who used to always choose the flashier position of wide receiver. Rhodes is one of those larger corners that could really make receivers earn their keep by fighting through his bump and run coverage.
CB Jonathon Banks of Mississippi State- The 2012 winner of the Jim Thorpe award is another tall corner at 6'2 but quite a bit leaner than Rhodes at 185lbs. Previous Jim Thorpe award winners include Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, and Eric Berry who are all very good players in the NFL. The Raiders defense lacked the ability to get turnovers and Banks is a bonafide ball hawk. His instincts are the best of any corner in this class.
He is a very aggressive player in general and that includes in his run support but at only 185lbs he definitely is a little slight of frame. He does not have elite speed already so adding more weight could further compromise that issue. There is a possibility that he will move to safety in the next level but I believe he will be a very good corner in the NFL. He can get burnt at times because of his aggressive nature but his high football IQ often has him guessing correctly.
Other options at corner: The only other option at corner that might go in the first round is 6'3 Corner from North Carolina David Amerson.
There are a bunch of Safeties in this draft as well but I don't see the Raiders going after them. They are Kenny Vaccaro of Texas, Matt Elam of Florida, Eric Reid of LSU, and TJ McDonald of USC.