"No Corners" should be the theme of the Raiders 2011 NFL Draft. The Raiders would be wasting a pick if they spend it on a corner. I know this is in stout defiance of popular logic, but that is the worst kind of logic.
Ol' man McKiper's boys over on ESPN, Mel and Todd, both have the Raiders taking a corner in their latest V.point McMock Draft. Todd McShay has the Raiders taking Colorado's, Jimmy Smith, at No. 48 and Mel Kiper Jr. has Ohio State's, Chimdi Chekwa, in the third.
Smith would actually be a really good fit. If he is still on the board it would be hard to find fault. Also a good fit would be Patrick Peterson or Deion Sanders in his prime, but I am not counting on them being available.
Smith just went 23rd to the Eagles in the latest SBNation mock, and yet that is the only semi-realistic possibility of the Raiders drafting a corner capable of beating Stanford Routt or Chris Johnson for the place-at-the-table squad with the 48th selection.
I know there is a greater need for depth beyond the starters, but bare with me for a second as I lay down a disclaimer on my assault on mockers...because they are probably right. Mock drafts aren't made to speculate best fit they are made to predict the pick, and in the draft guessing game "corner" is always a money play with the Raiders.
Al Davis loves him some corners. Check out this study by the National Football Post's, Joe Fortenbaugh. Over the last ten drafts more than 20 percent of all the Raiders' picks have been spent on defensive backs. The limbs are not breaking under these prognosticators.
Combine the just stated corner fetish and the likelihood that Nnamdi has played his last game in the silver and black, and you have more than enough evidence to suggest the Raiders will draft for a corner. Don't believe the hype.
The Raiders would be wasting a pick if they spent it on a corner. Take the jump....
Since the Raiders do not have a pick until the 48th overall it is a long shot that they will find a corner that will walk in as a rookie and outperform Stanford Routt or Chris Johnson. Beyond that the Raiders have Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware competing for depth. I am not convinced either of these guys can be the answer as the third corner—especially McFadden—he has a lot to prove after looking more like a bullfighter than a corner last year. Despite that he has enough athleticism to give him one more year and then hope he stays healthy and fulfill his potential.
Last year the Raiders carried five corners, which is a typical number. If the Raiders drafted a corner and he made the team it would likely mean the Raiders opened the season with Johnson and Routt and then three corners that have played in a total of 12 NFL games.
That is not a good idea. I like this one much better:
Check out the deep pool of free agent talent on the market this year. Here is a comprehensive list by WalterFootball.com.
That is where the Raiders turn to fill their hole at corner. They need someone battle tested. Someone they can count on in the secondary. Not a pack of question marks.
There are roughly 20 corners on the free agent market that are either good enough to start or be top-notch nickel guys. It is easily the deepest talent pool in the not-quite-yet free agent market. It is the one position they are guaranteed to have a chance to upgrade after the draft.
They need to draft for positions where they can't land better free agent talent. Otherwise it's a wasted pick for the 2011 season. And the Raiders need to do everything they can to build on their recent momentum.
I am not expecting the Raiders to offer big money to any corners, otherwise they would have already offered it to Nnamdi and not to Routt. That is not a concern. With the greater quantity of supply the demand diminishes—free agency will know no greater value than at corner.
There are going to be a few mid-level players they could land at a solid bargain. How do you like?
Here's my pick based on value, plausibility and fit: Buffalo's Drayton Florence. Florence started all 16 games for the Bills in 2010. He had three picks and 15 passes defensed.
He is not going to make a pro bowl, and he is not going to break the bank. By my estimation he is going to be in the 10-15 range in terms of the pecking order for corners whenever free agency picks up.
He also is a good fit for the Raiders. Here is his scouting report by Scouts Inc:
He has a ton of talent but has become a bit of a veteran journeyman-type of player. He is not a very smart or instinctive player. Florence is better in man coverage, where he can just line up and not have to really read or react. Florence really struggles in off coverage. He does not read routes well. He is not very physical in run support. He has a lot of natural ability but has never played up to expectations.
Hmm...better in man coverage and he struggles in off coverage? How has he not been a Raider yet? He struggles in run support, which sucks, but we are talking about the nickel corner here. He is not going to be perfect.
The Raiders need to sign Florence or another free agent. That would give them three veterans with starting experience that they can count on while hoping one of the two young corners emerges and pushes them for playing time.