Most of the focus in free agency this off-season has been on the lines. The first two players the new regime attempted to sign were both offensive linemen -- Rodger Saffold, and Austin Howard. Both were offensive tackles who Reggie McKenzie claims were/are going to move inside to guard. Saffold didn't pass his physical and his contract was voided so we'll never know, but Howard was signed and previous starting right guard Mike Brisiel was cut.
The team also added Kevin Boothe to compete for the starting job on the left side with incumbent Khalif Barnes and former third round pick, Tony Bergstrom. Boothe is about to turn 31 and Howard may end up back at right tackle when all is said and done. Both situations leave the Raiders with a possible need at guard. One which they could address if a player they really like is available later in the draft than they expected.
This draft is not very deep at guard with only two or three expected to go in the first couple rounds. The Raiders can afford not to reach so I expect they won't. Here are those guards with the goods the Raiders covet.
David Yankey, Stanford - Round 3
Where exactly Yankey will land in this draft has been much disputed. Some believe he is the best guard in the draft and could come off the board in the first round while others believe he could slide as far as the fourth round. Not to point out the obvious but where the Raiders take him will depend on how much they like him. If they really like him, they won't risk him getting swiped up by the fourth round. Otherwise they could hold out and hope he is still there with their next pick. Oddly, the guy in this draft named Yankey is not even American born - he's from Australia. The 6-5, 315-pounder has started every game the past three seasons for the Cardinal. He began his career at Stanford as a left tackle and was moved inside to guard due to his nastiness as a run blocker.
Cyril Richardson, Baylor - Round 4
Another former tackle who shifted inside to play guard due in part to his difficulty with some speed outside pass rushers. He had packed on 345 pounds onto his 6-5 frame while he was playing left tackle. He has since brought his weight down to a more manageable 329 pounds. Even though it sounds silly to even say that. He's still quite a load. He used to pass block for Robert Griffin III and then was a run blocker for Lache Seastrunk. Both pretty important jobs at which he excelled. Where he lacks is in athleticism. At one time, he was seen as perhaps a second round pick. But at the scouting combine he was not among the top performers in any category. His stock took a big hit that day.
Matt Feiler, Bloomsburg - Round 7
Big and strong, though not overly light on his feet for his size. The 6-6, 330 pounder was second at the scouting combine with 36 reps on the 225-pound bench press. The mere fact that a player from Bloomsburg was invited to the scouting combine should tell you something. A two-time AP Little All America first team as a left tackle but whose skillset as a tackle is limited along with having short arms (32) for the position. He is an ideal candidate to move inside to guard. Raiders fans will remember Robert Gallery who dominated at left tackle in college but struggled in the pros in part due to his short arms. Once he moved inside, he was one of the better guards in the league.