As the old saying goes, you can’t properly evaluate a draft until at least three years have passed. We’ll have to wait and see how the 2011 class pans out for Al Davis. The one thing we can evaluate is just how well the Raiders addressed their immediate needs.
In a time filled with so much uncertainty you would think the Raiders would use the draft to find potential contributors in all their areas of need. Well, the 2011 draft began with that in mind then quickly devolved into an Al Davis stopwatch party.
Here is the Oakland Raiders’ draft class of 2011.
Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State – (2nd round, 48th overall) – There were plenty of rumors flying around that the Raiders had their sights set on Colin Kaepernick but that went out the window once the 49ers moved up to grab the Nevada QB. After it was all said and done the Raiders got the man they had atop their draft board all along. We all know about what the Wisniewski name means to the Raiders. All that aside, Stefen is his own man and would have been a solid selection no matter who is uncle is. It just so happens he’ll be learning the pro game from Uncle Steve. Stefen addresses an area of immediate need as he’s expected to compete with Samson Satele for the center gig or figures to be one of the starting guards. Either way the heady Nittany Lion arrives with some big expectations following him.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami – (3rd round, 81st overall) – The pick the world saw coming from a mile away. You just can’t go sub 4.3 and expect to slip by Davis. This might have been a bit of a reach as Van Dyke wasn’t even a starter his senior year at UM. But that hardly matters as he won’t be expected to start for the Raiders either. No matter what happens with the Nnamdi Asomugha situation Van Dyke’s best chance to contribute early will be in dime and possibly nickel packages. He’s going to have to put some weight on his small frame and will need to work on his technique. The good news is that he’s going to a franchise known for cranking out quality cover corners.
Joe Barksdale, OT, Louisiana State – (3rd round, 92nd overall) – Barksdale is another rookie that is going to be expected to compete for a starting job from day one. Whether that’s as a tackle or guard remains to be seen. But that hardly matters to Barksdale who moved from right tackle to left as a senior and was originally recruited as a defensive tackle only to be converted into an O-lineman. Beyond the 6’5”/335-pound frame he’s capable of being dominant but tends to play down to the level of his competition. If Barksdale is going to have a productive pro career then he can’t have the collegiate approach. Both he and Wisniewski are going to have every chance to be starting on opening day.
Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State – (4th round, 113th overall) – The selection of Chekwa is one I had pegged almost two months ago. Chekwa has Raider Speed but more importantly is a solid cover corner who figures to be involved in specialty packages as a rookie. The immediate concerns are centered on a wrist injury he suffered in the Sugar Bowl. Going forward the concerns relate to just how much room there is for him to blossom at the next level. Chekwa might not ever become an every down corner in the NFL but he could be a solid nickel back for years to come.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington – (4th round, 125th overall) – In the days leading up to the draft there was some serious flirtation going one between Jones and the Raiders. His stunning pro day drew the attention of every NFL franchise as the Big Sky’s offensive player of the year ran a jaw dropping 40-yard dash. Did he blow off a meeting with the Raiders? Was there ever a meeting even setup? Who cares? Jones is a Raider even if he doesn’t necessarily fill an area of need so much as he gives Hue Jackson another offensive weapon. Not viewed as an every down back, Taiwan will be a terror as a third down RB who will be dynamic on screens and draws.
Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee – (5th round, 148th overall) – It seems as if Davis is trying to catch lightning in a bottle at the receiver position. Since selection Darrius Heyward-Bey 7th overall almost three years ago, the Raiders have added receivers in every draft including Louis Murphy the same year DHB was drafted. Moore, as you would expect, is known for his speed. Not a great route runner, he’s best contribution to an NFL roster is being able to stretch the field. Denarius is in for an uphill battle as there is no shortage of receivers in the East Bay all of whom are competing for field time.
Richard Gordon, TE, Miami (6th round, 181st overall) – Gordon’s name wasn’t on many mock drafts. He was primarily a blocker at the U and is very raw. However, he is a freakish athlete that fellow Hurricane DeMarcus Van Dyke has compared to Antonio Gates. With the tight end position becoming such a valuable asset to all NFL teams, it only makes sense to stockpile raw talent in hopes of seeing it blossom. This pick doesn’t really provide much immediate help but down the road Gordon could develop into a real weapon.
David Ausberry, WR, USC (7th round, 241st overall) – This feels like a sentimental Al Davis pick. Ausberry is a Central Valley native who was a highly sought after recruit coming out of high school. While he never became the dynamic playmaker Pete Carroll recruited him as, Ausberry has a great frame (6’3”/233) and will likely be converted to a tight end or full back.
While I do feel as if the Raiders had a good draft I can’t help but feel they failed to address other needs. This team is looking at the possibility of having four new starters on the offensive line. It stands to reason that they could have done even more to get help on the line.
In addition, the defense still needs an upgrade at the weakside linebacker position and more help at safety. Either Oakland is banking on retaining Michael Huff or they’re envisioning a free agency window to open in the near future. But that is all speculation. Their chance to find talent in those areas through the draft has gone wanting.
Lastly we have to discuss the quarterback situation. Maybe a full year as the starter with no Gradkowski over his shoulder will give Jason Campbell the confidence needed to perform consistently week in and week out. If the Raiders really wanted Kaepernick then they needed to be much more aggressive. Of course, this franchise doesn’t have much of a history of drafting and developing QBs. Now finding NFL reclamation projects and making them MVPs…yeah…Oakland’s got that covered. So maybe Campbell is the future. Who really knows?
All we know for sure is that 8 men have just been brought into the Silver and Black family.
Topics: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured, Antonio Gates, Bruce Gradkowski, Chimdi Chekwa, Colin Kaepernick, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Ausberry, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Denarius Moore, Hue Jackson, Jason Campbell, Joseph Barksdale, Louis Murphy, Michael Huff, Nnamdi Asomugha, Pete Carroll, Richard Gordon, Samson Satele, Stefen Wisniewski, Taiwan Jones