Ok, so we've spent the majority of the offseason debating on what the Silver and Black will do with the 3rd pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Floyd?, Smith?, Millner?, trading back? Well, you've got to believe that if the Raiders decide not to, or aren't able to, trade back and acquire more picks, that Reggie and company will take the best player available. The best player available to fill one of the massive holes in the roster that is. And, we've still yet to see if more holes will develop. Most notably the quarterback position. Releasing Palmer would certainly be an indication that the new Raiders' brass has unofficially hit the refresh button, but with few better options readily available, it might make more sense to keep the former No. 1 overall pick in town. The Raiders wouldn't gain much under the cap by releasing or trading Palmer at this point. (And it's doubtful that anyone would pick up his contract) Over $9.5 million of his salary is already on the books for the upcoming season. The sting of giving up on Palmer would be felt on draft day, as well, considering that the Bengals
possess the Raiders' second-round pick as the final compensation for the deal.
A lot is still yet to be determined. In my opinion, The best option for Oakland at this point may to be dump Palmer and give the reigns to Pryor for a season on the chance his untapped potential can develop into something. Oakland holds the No. 3 overall pick, but with so many holes on the roster, other areas need to be addressed first if trading down doesn't come to fruition. It's hard to say what the Men in Black would do with the their third round pick without knowing what hole they fill with their first rounder. So, lets breakdown different hypothetical situations.
"With the 3rd pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders
select... Sharrif Floyd from the University of Florida"
With the glaring need for a pass rusher put on the back burner for the time being lets look forward to prospects that could help the Raiders out with the rest of their needs.
Aside from quarterback, I think the Raiders have more immediate needs. Specifically, defensive back. After releasing Michael Huff
, and being god awful last season. This spot needs to be addressed immediately. Here are the guys I think could do just that. Maybe they're not instant starters, but would give them much needed depth.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
This guy has a big frame and size for the position. He's a press corner that likes to have a hand on his opponent at all times. He consistently does get some kind of contact or jam when pressing, remains balanced without overextending. He stays with quick twitch cuts and release with equally fast movements. Flashes strength to throw receiver to the side when wanting to get in on piles. Improved against the run as the season went along. Can really lay into a hit if it is lined up on the edge. Turns to find the football and adjusts well if in the hip pocket of a receiver downfield. If he manages to fall to the Raiders in the third round I think he'd be a great pick up. He's got some tackling weaknesses, but that can be coached.
D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
He's raw, and might not be worth a third round pick. But, I think he's got a lot of upside. He's got very good foot quickness which allows him to handle man coverage responsibilities on the outside in the slot equally well. Gives ground off the line without giving up position, and possesses the change of direction ability to trail on inside routes, turn-and-run up the sideline, and stop quickly when needed. When playing off, he closes fast to make plays on out routes or to wrap up on slants. His toughness helps him win fights with receivers for 50/50 balls downfield, and he will run through the play to recover, often getting to the ball just in case to knock it away.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
This is a guy I probably like more than D.J. Hayden. He's the younger brother of NFL cornerbacks Marcus and Isaiah. Again, maybe a reach with a third round pick but he seems NFL ready. He's got Very good short-area foot quickness, mirrors receivers on the outside on double moves up the sideline or quick out routes. Capable of playing either outside or in the slot. Has speed to run with better receivers. Plays a lot of press-bail but has length and tenacity in coverage.
Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
I really enjoyed watching Vaccaro play last season. The Longhorn's defense wasn't very good last season but he was definitely a bright spot (92 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defended) He's definitely NFL starting combo safety material with a very good blend of overall strength and athleticism. He was often used as a nickel back despite a thick overall build. Has very loose hips and good overall change-of-direction ability. Locks onto slot receivers at the line and has the agility and straight-game speed to stay with them on out routes and downfield. Physical with receivers trying to block him in the run game, has the strength to rip off and make a stop. Solid open-field tackler, uses great effort and his upper-body strength to drag down ball carriers.
Matt Elam, Safety, Florida
He's definitely a strong safety but could probably be converted to Free Safety. I think he's a beast. Look up his highlight reel on youtube. Definitely a big hitter. He's At his best when asked to make a play, either blitzing or one on one on the edge. Frequently assigned to cover the slot receiver. There are times when he flashes tremendous disruption when the play is developing in front of him. Has catch up speed to chase down when he wants to. Gets hand up to disrupt at the catch point even if head is not turned to locate the football. Gets downfield very quickly as a gunner in punt coverage.
If Oakland decides to go in a different direction and address the Quarterback situation (which I think would be a mistake) with the third pick this is who I'd like to see in Silver and Black.
EJ Manuel, Quarterback, Florida State
I like this guy more than Matt Barkly honestly. I like heart. And this guy has the heart of a lion. He played with a broken leg in the Champs Bowl against Notre Dame in 2011 for Christ sake. Last year Manuel started all 14 games and even topped off the 12-2 with a decisive Orange Bowl victory. He completed 263-of-387 attempts for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 310 rushing yards and four touchdowns while dealing with his mother's cancer treatment, something Manuel kept under wraps for a large portion of the season. Heart.
He's physically imposing passer. Throws from the shotgun formation quite often, but is also effective on play action. Flashes the velocity to stretch the field and throw in tight spaces between defenders and on the sideline. Displays good touch on throws to each level of the field, finds receivers between defenders and drop passes over their head. Good athlete with the mobility to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure and take advantage of openings to pick up first downs with his feet. Quick release, though it often looks as though he’s throwing darts on shorter throws. Intelligent, high character team leader. He's got some accuracy issues with his deep ball and he needs to mature as a quarterback. With some work he could be developed into a solid starter.
Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
Remember when he was considered a high first round draft pick? That was for a reason. He's got a high football IQ and has all the intangibles to be developed into a quality starter in the NFL. He's experienced running a pro-style system. Makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage (including the run game) and unloads the ball quickly when seeing a favorable matchup before the snap. Barkley is sually accurate when he is able to set his base and stride into his throws. While he isn't overly athletic, he showed the mobility to throw accurately on bootlegs and half rolls. Looks off and pump-fake safeties and communicates with receivers pre-snap on the opposite side of the field from which he intends to throw. He doesn't have the big arm the Raiders are used to but it could be a nice change of pace. Also, he gets knocked a lot on his height (6'2"). But, we've seen Russell Wilson
and Drew Brees
do a lot with less.
The Raiders obviously have a lot of progress to make. But, it won't happen over night. This is a rebuilding process and it's going to be painful. I have confidence in our new regime to set us up for success. Reggie is going to do whatever he thinks is best for our team. He's faced a lot of criticism in his short time in Oakland but this guy knows what he's doing. Be patient Raider nation. We'll get there. It all starts with solid draft picks. Whatever happens, we'll embrace the decisions (maybe not right away) like we've always done, and support the guys that suit up wearing the Silver and Black. We're headed in the right direction. Patients young grass hoppers.
Let me know what you think Raider nation and give me your feedback, I appreciate it.