We move on to the offensive guards as I work through the positions and players on the Raiders draft radar. Along with the player, I include the round in which the Raiders would be likely to take the player should he be available with their pick in that round.
After the terrible season the Raiders offensive line had last season, something had to give. The most important change was that of coaching and scheme. Out was Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp and Offensive Line coach Kevin Pollack, and with them the zone blocking scheme. The Power blocking scheme is back in which most of these Raiders thrived in 2011.
There is just one position on the Raider offensive line that is not set as of this moment - left guard. Cooper Carlisle has not been re-signed and as of this moment his most likely replacement would be last year's top pick (third round), Tony Bergstrom. There is no guarantee Bergstrom will be able to handle the starting job, especially because he was drafted as a zone blocking specialist. For this reason, the Raiders could look to infuse some competition for that spot in this year's draft.
Here are those offensive guards who show up on the Raiders draft radar:
Chance Warmack, Alabama - Round 1
Really, whose radar ISN'T this guy on? He is not just the best guard in this class but one of the best prospects in this draft. There is little chance the Raiders would take a shot at him with their number three pick as guards never go that high, but if they trade down in the first round, he becomes a legitimate option. They drafted Tony Bergstrom with their top pick (third round) last year but if you have a shot to shore up the guard position with an exclamation point by drafting a guy like Warmack, you take him. At 6-2, 325 pounds and 34-inch arms, he is wider than he is tall - what scouts like to call a "road grader". And good luck getting around him in pass protection. A full time starter the past three seasons for the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
Brian Winters, Kent State - Round 3
The hope is Winters manages to slip through the second round and into the Raiders' lap in the top of the third round. He was quite impressive in the Senior Bowl practices for Dennis Allen's North squad which put him solidly on their radar. He started every game that past four seasons at left tackle for Kent State and is seen as being more suited for a move inside in the pros. However, his experience outside shows his versatility should the Raiders need depth on the outside. Winters is capable of being an instant starter with plenty of upside. His experience and work ethic should make for an easy transition to guard.
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee - Round 4
Another former left tackle, Thomas moved to left guard as a senior and earned 2nd team All SEC. At 6-5, 308 pounds, he still has room to add weight to his frame. He is very athletic and carries the weight naturally. That durability has had him appear in every game in four seasons at Tennessee - starting every game the past three seasons. Thomas' contributions didn't go unnoticed by Reggie McKenzie who is a Tennessee alum and attended Thomas' Pro Day personally.
David Quessenberry, San Jose State - Round 6
Round six is a bit low for Quessenberry but that is not because this is where I believe he will be drafted. To the contrary, there is a good chance he will be gone well before the sixth round. He is also more of a zone blocking fit than a power blocking lineman the Raiders are looking for. However, he opened some eyes at Senior Bowl practices and if he did somehow slip this far, he would be worth taking a chance on.
Garrett Gilkey, Chadron State - Round 7
It speaks volumes of a small school player like Gilkey when scouts are scratching their heads as to how big time programs missed on him. There is a chance this 6-6, 312 pounds lineman isn't even still on the board come the seventh round. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and impressed there, invited to the scouting combine and impressed there. He was, two-time all conference, which makes sense considering that's the kind of accolades it would take for the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine to take notice. Gilkey has an interesting story as well, one in which he was bullied in school for being small and oddly shaped as a freshman. Little did they know, he was shaped that way because he was going to grow into his frame. Now, he is a large man with an even larger mean streak. In the meantime, he stood out academically. If Gilkey had gone to a division one school, he would be gone in the top two rounds.