With the Raiders drafting twice in the Top 34 picks in a VERY deep draft, they have a chance to fill in each of their holes with a dominant player.
With Sims gone and Mario still a question mark, we'll consider LT as a hole, for now.
The holes that I identified at season's end were ENORMOUS because they were key positions that were being manned by sub-par play.
Some say that the D-Line was to blame for the ineptness against the run and that the team needs a BIG DT in the draft. I agreed, and the Raiders solved that by resigning Tommy Kelly who will play inside this season.
I think that Sands and Kelly will do a better job of forcing the rush outside than Sapp or Warren did. Sapp and Warren were always trying to get to the QB and disappeared against the run. They can still use a DT in the draft, and by adding Berrian through free agency, Trevor Laws would be a great addition in the second round, when it will be WR Central at the Top of the Round.
The largest hole on the team was wherever Stewart Schweigert was playing, except on special teams.
That hole was filled with the best player available at that position...THAT IS HUGE!!!
Gone is a bad angle taking, soft tackling, ankle grabbing player and HERE is a sure tackling, playmaking, WORLD CHAMP.
The Defense still needs a run stuffing linebacker and, with the exit of Chris Clemons, an edge rusher.
Those two needs can be solved in the draft with Vernon Gholston in the first round and Thomas Williams in the fourth or sixth round.
Thomas is a very underrated player according to our resident draft guru, Bud Light, and I cannot say that I disagree with him.
Williams has the size and speed to be a solid run stuffer and can play inside or outside.
He'd be a stretch in the 4th round, but may not be there in the 6th. The Gerard Warren trade really hurts right now. It will especially hurt if he goes to the Broncos in the 5th Round.
On Offense there is a need at LT, maybe, and there is a definite need for a field stretching receiver that has good hands and a quick slot receiver.
The LT options range from Jake Long with the First Pick and the possibility of Gosder Cherilus in the second. Neither is PERFECT for the Cable offense, so I am hoping that Mario Henderson IS the PERFECT LT for Cable.
IF Bernard Berian is signed then that leaves only one HOLE at the WR position and that can be filled in the second, fourth or maybe even the 6th or 7th Round.
If Berian is not signed then I expect the team to add a receiver in the second round.
Possible second round choices include Devin Thomas, Mario Manningham (Bad Combine, 5.58 40), James Hardy, Adarius Bowman or Early Doucett.
Possible 4th Rounders include Lavelle Hawkins, Dexter Jackson and Eddie Royal.
If Marcus Monk is available in the 6th and Thomas Williams is off the board I would love to see what he could do with his 6 foot 6 frame and 36 inch vert.
The toughest position for the Raiders to fill this year is already filled, and now the rest of the holes can be filled with incredible talent!!!
Signing Stallworth or Berian will allow the Raiders to go with something other than WR in the second round and I HOPE that we get one of them...
So Let's Recap...
S- Gibril Wilson
WR- Berrian and Hawkins/Jackson/Royal and Monk
DL- Gholston and Laws
LB- Thomas Williams
Others who may join this weekend:
Kwame Harris - At 26 years old, he is still young and is a punishing run blocker.
Ebenezar Ekuban - He is recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon and may not be a factor until mid season or next season, so he could be a steal on a three year deal.