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A strategic approach to Raiders 2013 off-season

Jonathan Daniel

As we all know, the Raiders are $6,612,500 million dollars over the cap coming off a 4-12 campaign. It is up to Reggie McKenzie to determine which positions he needs to upgrade via the draft and free agency. While the exact number of starters that need to be acquired is debatable, the Raiders do need to restock at many positions. The positions that need new starters in order of importance are as follows:

  1. Defensive End (The teams pass rush was abysmal last year)
  2. Cornerback (the team has 0 legitment starters)
  3. Offensive Tackle (RT position needs to be able to handle speed rushers)
  4. Middle Linebacker (Left empty by McClains departure)
  5. Defensive Tackle (Possibility of two new starters here)
  6. Offensive Guard (Brisiel doesn't fit new system and Carlisle is too old)

Now, as previously mentioned, the Raiders are over the cap, so they will need to choose wisely how they address these holes. Below is a figure showing the average salaries by position in the NFL.

Nfl-highest-paid_medium

While these averages are calculated using the five highest paid at each position, the averages remain relative down through the lower range talent. Using the positions that apply to the Raiders needs, a new order can be generated sorting the positions from most to least expensive:

  1. Defensive End (Previously 1)
  2. Offensive Tackle (Previously 3)
  3. Cornerback (Previously 2)
  4. Middle Linebacker (Previously 4)
  5. Defensive Tackle (Previously 5)
  6. Offensive Guard (Previously 6)

In this list OT and CB have shifted positions while the rest have remained the same. For sake of argument, we will assume that there are is no starting quality talent at these positions currently on the roster. While this assumption is most likely wrong, Reggie would be best advised to err on the side of caution. If the current players do not pan out this strategy will prove to be a wise insurance policy.

Due to the new rookie wage scale the Raiders should select the positions which are most expensive in the draft to save cap room. Inversely, McKenzie should target FA's from the bottom of this list up. Most experts predict that you can mold about 30% of your draft into starters. Assuming that the Raiders stick with the number of picks they have (8) 30% is 2.4 starters. Dennis Allen will most likely be forced to round the number of rookie starters up to 3 due to lack of talent on the roster. Assuming the Raiders get 3 starters from the draft, that leaves 3 starters to be acquired via FA.

Free Agency:

Starting from the bottom of the list, OG would be the cheapest position to fill. Below are a list of the top 5 OG's available in FA:

Second Position on the list is DT, again listed below are the top 5:

The final position to be addressed in FA would be the LB spot:

The Draft:

There has been a lot of speculation on this site that the Raiders will try to trade down to acquire more picks. While this is a reasonable scenario, for the purpose of this article we will assume that the team will stick with its current picks. Since it is most likely that starters are most easily found in the earlier rounds we will consider the team's 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks in this article. Again using the cost chart, Reggie should select players in the following order: DE, OT, and CB.

Round 1 (DE):

According to CBS these are the top 5 DE's, all of which should be available with the #3 pick:

RANK PLAYER POS. POS. RANK SCHOOL CLASS HT. WT. PROJ. ROUND
2 *Bjoern Werner DE 1 Florida State Jr 6-4 256 1
4 *Damontre Moore DE 2 Texas A&M Jr 6-4 250 1
9 *Barkevious Mingo DE 3 LSU rJr 6-4 240 1
16 Ezekiel Ansah DE 4 Brigham Young Sr 6-5 274 1
21 Datone Jones DE 5 UCLA rSr 6-4 280 1

Round 3 (OT):

the top 5 prospects at OT will definitely be gone by the time the Raiders select again. here are the top 5 picks that will most likely be available:

RANK PLAYER POS. POS. RANK SCHOOL CLASS HT. WT.

PROJ. ROUND

55 Kyle Long OT 6 Oregon Sr 6-6 304 2
57 Dallas Thomas OT 7 Tennessee rSr 6-5 308 2
65 *David Bakhtiari OT 8 Colorado rJr 6-4 295 2-3
79 *Chris FaulkInjured OT 9 LSU rJr 6-5 323 2-3
98 Jordan Mills OT 10 Louisiana Tech Sr 6-5 318 3

Round 4 (CB):

Top 5 CB's who will be available during round 4:

RANK PLAYER POS. POS. RANK SCHOOL CLASS HT. WT. PROJ. ROUND

105 Blidi Wreh-Wilson CB 12 Connecticut rSr 6-1 192 3-4
111 B.W. Webb CB 13 William & Mary rSr 5-10 183 3-4
123 *Tharold Simon CB 14 LSU Jr 6-2 193 4
139 Leon McFadden CB 15 San Diego State Sr 5-10 193 4-5
143 Dwayne Gratz CB 16 Connecticut rSr 5-11 200 4-5

Conclusions:

The Raiders are in another bind this year to fill holes with little money. Using the draft wage scale as an asset, Reggie should be able to fill these 6 positions and remain under the cap. The selections are up for debate, but the strategy should remain sound. If any FA signing or draft pick goes sour, this strategy should allow for it to make minimal impact on the team.

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