Man, I was totally gearing up to write an article with eight draft predictions in honor of the eight Oakland Raiders draft choices. Then I find out they have traded one of the fifth round choices for Jags LB/DE Quentin Groves. Now I can only do seven predictions, but I’m not too upset and here is the reason why.
Who would’ve thought Oakland would get such good value out of two of their draft choices before the draft even opens on Thursday night? The simple fact of the matter is that the new defensive players Oakland added this offseason are very fast, strong for their positions, and recent former high draft choices.
Kamerion Wimbley was a first round draft choice in 2006 and Quentin Groves was a second round selection by Jacksonville in 2008. Wimbley ran a 4.61 forty time at the combine in 2006 and Groves ran a 4.53. No matter what these two guys do in Oakland (I mean they could have zero tackles) they are well worth what the Raiders gave up for them. Both are very young with plenty of tread left on their tires and both guys are bursting with upside if they have the right coaches to use them properly. In addition, both players have played a few years of NFL football already. Granted, they may not help the run defense directly, but they certainly will have a huge impact in the depth of the defensive roster regardless of whether or not they are named opening day starters.
Now that that huge spiel is out of the way, let me get to what I initially set out to do here. Seven predictions in honor of the seven draft choices the Raiders currently hold in the 2010 draft.
1. Taylor Mays will not be a Raider
Al Davis may have loved for Mays to come out last year, but Davis is looking to build a new dynasty, not further tarnish his image with stupid moves. I predict that Mays will be drafted in the first round of the draft, but it will not be by the Oakland Raiders.
I picture him going to help out Pete Carroll’s new defensive unit in Seattle, or Mike Singletary’s hard-nosed defense in San Francisco. Al Davis loves his height, weight, speed DB’s, but Mays missed his opportunity to play for the league's greatest franchise.
2. Oakland will draft at least two trench players in the first four rounds
I predict that the first draft choice of 2010 will be an offensive lineman. Odds are that it will be either Mike Iupati or Trent Williams. I’m thinking Davis doesn’t have too high of hopes for Brian Bulaga because when Davis thinks of Bulaga as the 8 pick in the draft he relives the entire Robert Gallery saga, being that both players are highly regarded rookie tackles from Iowa with short arms.
I’m not sure if they will take a defensive tackle in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, but I’m thinking they will in one of those rounds. If I had to put money on it, I’d go with Texas DT LaMarr Houston in the third round. I cannot, however, see the Raiders waiting until after the fourth round to work on their lines. It could be all four picks are trench players, but I’m going with two of the top four.
3. Oakland will draft a Sleeper in a late round:
2009 produced arguably the best wide receiver on the current roster right in 4th round pick Louis Murphy. In 2008, Oakland grabbed three late gems in starting strong safety Tyvon Branch in the 4th, starting weak side linebacker Trevor Scott in the 6th round, and starting wide receiver Chaz Schilens in the 7th round. Schilens has missed significant time as a Raider, but the other two players have been solid producers. In the 4th round of the 2007 draft, Oakland welcomed Michael Bush to their squad. Their first pick in the fifth round that year was defensive end Jay Richardson, and their first pick of the sixth round was fullback Oren O’Neal.
Oakland will draft somebody deep in this draft who will produce at a higher level than many day one selections. It could be OT Marshall Newhouse from TCU, or perhaps it already was DE Quentin Groves…yeah, I know what you are thinking…picking Groves is cheating. Nevertheless, there will be more, count on it.
4. Bruce Campbell is not be the Raider first round pick:
Yeah, I have said it before and I say it again. However, if he is available at the 39th pick in the draft, I can see him becoming a Raider. I guess what I’m saying here is that Al Davis will not take that huge reach he took last year with DHB.
I believe what Tom Cable says. When Cable says he wants guys who have experience playing the position in college against many DE’s, I believe Al Davis will listen to his concerns on the matter. I know Bruce is the “Workout Warrior” for the 2010 class that Davis is supposed to take, but it won’t happen early on.
5. Oakland will draft a QB in this draft…eventually
If there is a QB taken high by the Raiders, odds are it’s going to be Tim Tebow. If not, the Raiders could wait until very late in the draft, but I believe they do want one. They took a good, hard look at Tebow and also Northwestern's Mike Kafka. While both are project QB’s, Oakland knows the situation it is in at QB.
Kyle Boller was brought in to be an extra arm in mini-camp’s and OTA’s while Bruce Gradkowski recovers from surgery. JaMarcus Russell is walking a tightrope and Charlie Frye might help the coaching staff a lot more than he helps on the field this year. I believe they are holding out hope for Russell and Gradkowski, but I also believe they want to get a jumpstart on next season just in case those two guys don’t work out.
6. Another Linebacker is a high priority
I knew last year when the Raiders moved Trevor Scott to WLB, they were looking to help the run defense. When they traded for Wimbley this year, they were still looking to help the run defense. By getting bigger at the outside linebackers, the Raiders add some girth to what used to be a relatively small front seven with Derrick Burgess, Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard, and Ricky Brown playing four of the starting seven spots.
Now that they have Scott and Wimbley, only one piece is missing, the man in the middle. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Oakland move Morrison, or Howard, or both players to help them get in better position to take whoever they feel fills that roll for the team. Perhaps Quentin Groves comes in to play in that spot, but I think he will play defensive end for Oakland and they will draft an animal to be their heart and soul moving forward.
And now, my final 2010 draft prediction…drum roll please
7. This year’s draft class will get Oakland over the 11 loss hump
There is no denying that the Raiders have been laughed at, pointed, at, and circled on the schedule for the past few seasons. Tom Cable said that this is not a draft where the Raiders have to say, ‘ok, who is the best player available, let’s take him’ but rather that it is a draft where they can look for certain guys in particular and take who they want for the team. I take that to mean that they are close to where they want to be and are just missing mostly minor pieces.
There is no doubt that with a good ‘Trenches Based’ draft, Oakland can add a lot of depth to what they currently have on both lines. Right now, both lines are question marks, but the 2010 draft class will give Oakland an opportunity to improve on the goals they set for the beginning of the 2000’s going forward into the next decade of Raiders football.
--Bret Armstrong, TFDS Guest Contributor
Follow Me on Twitter: Raidersblogger