Ever since the Super Bowl loss to Jon Gruden?s Bucs in 2003, this team has not been the same. Oakland hasn't won six games or more since then, and
things do not seem to be on the upswing with so many needs in place. However, the AFC West seems to be up in the air a little bit outside of San Diego.
Denver is going through some drama. Kansas City has to transition to the 3-4. Could the Raiders be a surprise team in 2009? It all starts with the
NFL Draft for these non-playoff teams if they want to upgrade their depth charts. Let?s get right to their draft range at seven overall:
Offensive Tackle: I think this coaching staff is sold on Mario Henderson on the left side, however, Cornell Green could be upgraded at right
tackle. I am not completely sure if Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe will be on the board here. Neither Michael Oher nor Andre Smith ran solid 40s
in their workouts, so I do not think it is very probable the Raiders go with them. They are still in the No. 7 pick range, but I feel like there will be more
Michael Crabtree/Jeremy Maclin: I have said since early January if Al Davis has the chance to draft Michael Crabtree, he will pass. He simply loves
40s. I have been criticized by Raider fan bases before for this assessment, but then Michael Lombardi stated
exactly what my research showed. He is a former executive with Oakland, and he is adamant that Davis loves 40 times. Maclin is a possibility at this pick,
but I think Al Davis has something different in mind for his draft strategy. Read on?
B.J. Raji: Nose tackle is a need, but I just do not see the Raiders going here with other great athletes on the board. I have been wrong before,
Brian Orakpo/Everette Brown: If the Cleveland Browns pass up on Brian Orakpo at No. 5, that means he will fall to the Raiders. Orakpo is a workout
warrior and Al Davis would pull the trigger on him. Derrick Burgess lost a step and this team desperately needs a pass rush. Because I project Orakpo
to go to Cleveland, this means Everette Brown is the next pass-rusher Davis will look at. He should improve his 40 at his Pro Day, and Davis will
see the athleticism on film. Come to think of it, he also might seriously consider Michael Johnson at this pick. He is a height-weight-speed
specimen, and if he is drafted here then I lose $1,000 to his agent (seriously).
Trade up for Darrius Heyward-Bey: This is why I do not think the Raiders will draft Maclin at No. 7. I think they will take Orakpo or Brown,
then Davis will make a move up for the best 40 time in the 2009 NFL Draft. JaMarcus Russell needs a deep threat, and DHB is just that at 6-2 with 4.3 speed.
This seems like a match made in heaven. Look for Al Davis to do whatever he has to do to move into that 16-24 pick range to draft DHB. I really
believe this will happen, and it makes too much sense not to. He will probably not be on the board in the second round, and the Raiders will be
After the first round, the Raiders have options if they decide not to move multiple draft picks for Heyward-Bey.
After doing a serious in-depth analysis of the Raiders depth chart, I find absolutely no natural strong safety on the
roster. Maybe I am missing something, but after they released Gibril Wilson I can?t find anyone. Patrick Chung, Michael Hamlin, Jairus Byrd and
William Moore would be solid second-round picks.
If Al Davis elects not to select an offensive tackle at No. 7, Phil Loadholt, Gerald Cadogan, and Fenuki Tupou would be options to start at right tackle
immediately and could be had in Rounds 3 or 4.
Receiving options (outside of trading up for DHB) include selecting Derrick Williams or Mike Wallace in the second round. They bring the elite speed
Davis wants to the table. Other great speedsters include Louis Murphy, Johnny Knox, and Tiquan Underwood who could be mid-round picks.
Center is a big need on this offensive line after Jake Grove left for Miami as a free agent. Alex Mack would be a tremendous pickup in the
second round. Other talented centers include Jonathan Luigs, Antoine Caldwell, Max Unger and Eric Wood.
If they pass up on Orakpo and Everette Brown at No. 7, then they will look for a defensive end later on. Michael Johnson is exactly what Al
Davis wants in a pass-rusher. He is a freak of nature at 6-7, 265 and he runs in the 4.55 range. Davis might even trade up for Johnson into the
low portion of the second round. Other mid-round defensive ends include Lawrence Sidbury and Phillip Hunt.
The Raiders are a bit of a wild card early on, but I really do feel like when it is all said and done, they'll grab a pass rusher at No. 7, then make a
play up for DHB. We will see how it all plays out, but I think we can all agree this team needs to seriously start winning games to gain some respect.