Raiders trade for a center, draft philosophy comes into focus

That gaping hole in the middle of the Oakland offensive line has just been filled.

Various media outlets are reporting that the Oakland Raiders have traded an “undisclosed draft pick” to the Miami Dolphins for third year center Samson Satele.

Satele was selected in the second round of the draft by the Dolphins in 2007 and has started every game in his two years of professional football. The former Hawaii Warrior was a two time All-WAC first team selection and was a member of Pro Football Weekly’s All-Rookie team in 2007.

On first glance, this would appear to be a perfect fit for the Raiders and their zone blocking scheme. The Hawaii native is an athlete who was able to play left tackle and both guard positions during his college career before settling in as a center. In addition, Satele played in a Dolphin offense that utilized the now popular “Wildcat formation” which is sure to be a part of the Oakland playbook in 2009.

The Raider front office has continued to impress with a disciplined approach in the off-season, methodically filling out the roster with cautious spending and inspired personnel moves.

The irony, of course, is that former Raider center Jake Grove opted out of his contract in order to sign with the Dolphins. Now the Raiders have acquired the man that Grove replaced who, like Grove, wears #64. The initial thought was that Grove and Satele would compete for the starting job in Miami. Given the fact that Grove signed a 5-year deal worth nearly $30 million, it would appear that the South Beach brass had no intentions on seeing him on the bench. Miami is rolling the dice on the oft-injured Grove, while the Raiders are content to bring in a young talent to play in the middle of an upstart and promising offense.

With details of the trade still unknown, it is not possible to tell what value the Raiders placed on Satele, but this looks like a smart move. After last week’s pro day at Cal Berkeley, many began to speculate that the Raiders might actually use the #7 pick to select Alex Mack of the Golden Bears. Clearly, #7 was too high a value to place on Mack, or any center for that matter. However, it was not too far fetched to assume that the second round might be ideal to select a center. Now the indications are that wide receiver or possibly the defensive line are becoming the focus for the first round.

There are rumors that the Cleveland Browns are shopping Braylon Edwards, perhaps in hopes of selecting Texas Teach standout Michael Crabtree, leaving Al Davis to salivate over Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin.

The signing of former Jaguar tackle Khalif Barnes indicated that the Raiders were no longer looking at the bounty of left tackles in the 2009 draft. You can now cross off center on the Raider team needs list, but the safety position has now moved up a notch or two.

With the draft just over a month away, there is still plenty of time to fill other spots in need of immediate attention.  As of today, the Raiders have the look of a franchise poised to field a team capable of competing in an AFC West that was suddenly up for grabs in 2008.

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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Alex Mack Braylon Edwards Jake Grove Jeremy Maclin Khalif Barnes Michael Crabtree Samson Satele

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