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Oakland Raiders 2012 Draft Targets: Cornerback

RaiderDamus here with a look ahead to the Raiders' draft next April. The Raiders have somewhat put themselves in a bit of a bind in the draft, having traded two picks in the first four rounds and having forfeited another due to the selection of Terrelle Pryor in the third round of this year's Supplemental Draft. However, the Raiders do have a first-round selection. The Raiders are currently averaging 30.6 points per game, a total unthinkable under Tom Cable and Jamarcus Russell, so for now we will ignore the offensive side of the ball. The Raiders will go defensive, and there are plenty of strong cornerback candidates to choose from. They may want to go this route even if Chris Johnson becomes good or Chimdi Chekwa continues his strong play. Let's start with Cliff Harris:

Cliff Harris Highlight Video (via Spazman1619)


Cliff Harris is a lockdown cornerback of the highest caliber. He made that clear upon entering school. When he and his fellow freshmen were introducing themselves to the rest of the Oregon Ducks team, Cliff famously said, "My name is Cliff Harris, and I'm here to lock (expletive) down." Harris takes pride in absolutely cutting off one half of the field, a la Deion Sanders or the former Raider Nnamdi Asomugha (until quite recently). Harris is an outstanding athlete with blazing speed and a massive vertical leap, and can make so-called perfect passes seem like routine pass defenses. If you throw to where Cliff Harris is, you have made a grave error as a quarterback.

But Harris is also a punt returner, and one of the best in the country. He has DeSean Jackson-like elusiveness and is a threat to take it to the house every single time he touches the football. In the 2010 season, Harris returned four punts for touchdowns and only called for five fair catches. During the same season, he also had seven interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. It can be seen in the video in this post. Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti runs a complex scheme, so Harris is comfortable playing press man, zone, or blitzing. He can truly do it all.

However, Harris has only played in one game this season, due to off-the-field issues. He was suspended for the first three games of the season for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Cliff Harris is no altar boy, and in fact is probably a bit of a knucklehead. The good thing about his trouble is that nobody was hurt, and that incident may drive his stock down enough to where the Raiders have a shot at him where they draft in the first round, which I anticipate to be between #20 and #25.

The knock on Harris will likely be his size. He is not large, at 5-11 and 165 pounds, but he makes up for his stature with his physical play and outstanding athleticism. It remains to be seen whether the Raiders, who prefer larger defensive backs, would consider Harris at their slot.