The Silver and Black has seen a total makeover since the regime handed over the keys to general manager Reggie McKenzie. The new GM addressed the club’s gameplan in a press conference for the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft earlier this month.
Considering the massive mess that was left when he entered the organization, McKenzie and company have cleaned house exceptionally well from the get-go. They went into the 2012 NFL Free Agency frenzy cap-strapped to the max, and the deck won’t be stacked in their favor for the draft, either.
Barring any trades, the team’s first pick will come late Saturday night on April 27 after 94 players have already been selected. Becoming the first decision-maker other than Al Davis since the early 60′s is a tough task for him and his staff.
Former head coach Hue Jackson sold the farm for quarterback Carson Palmer, which left Oakland without a first, second, third or fourth-round pick this April.
Nonetheless, the lack of picks in this year’s draft has just as much to do with the moves to get Richard Seymour from the New England Patriots for a second-round selection, the decision to get Terrelle Pryor in the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft and the trade for Jason Campbell in the 2012 NFL Draft in exchange for a fourth round pick (now with Chicago Bears).
Prior to the announcement of compensation selections, the Raiders were entering the three-day festivities with just two draft choices. Oakland now has five total picks, with one compensatory pick each coming from the third, fourth and fifth round.
Expect the team to continue to make more daunting decisions to try to strengthen the team’s chemistry and instill much-needed discipline as the 2012 NFL regular season inches increasingly closer.
Here’s a fresh seven-round mock draft on the Oakland Raiders.
Third Round (95th Overall)—Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
In the Raiders’ current 4-3 system, Josh Chapman can take over for where John Henderson left as a two-down run stopper. Strong enough to handle double teams and maneuver past blockers to get to the ball carrier, Chapman returned to the bench press for the first time in over two months and lifted 225 pounds 29 times at his Pro Day in early March.
Chapman played through a torn ACL in the final eight games in his senior campaign and continues to recover from his mid-January knee surgery. When healthy, the 6-1, 315-pound interior lineman is a rock as a defender and plays with a low center of gravity and great balance. In his final two seasons at Alabama, he racked up a total of 54 tackles and 5.0 TFL.
He plays with the dedication and toughness the Raiders covet and could take on the reins as a starter by mid-season in a 3-4 or 4-3 system. He was also brought in by the team for a workout. Don’t be surprised if Oakland pursues a new-look 3-4 front at some point.
Fourth Round (129th Overall)—Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
An all-team Mountain West offensive lineman with a 6-foot-6, 303-pound massive frame, Nate Potter was the leader of Boise State’s offensive front which tied for first in sacks allow at 0.67 per game. While his numbers didn’t blow anyone’s socks off in offseason workouts, his film is as rock-solid.
An athletic, long and lean pass protector, Potter is a knee bender who plays with respectable range and is ready to make an impact in the NFL. He has the feet to mirror speed rushers and will bend well in running situations in the Raiders’ offense.
Potter is built to block coming out of the backfield, is a hard worker and displays solid understanding of all of the angles. There are questions marks regarding his durability, having a history of shoulder injuries, which could drop his stock on draft day.
He’ll need time to develop his strength, but has huge upside as a potential starting left tackle on Oakland’s offensive line.
Fifth Round (148th Overall)—Tony Dye, SS, UCLA
A sound tackler who breaks down well in open field situations, Tony Dye is an inbred strong safety with solid straight-line speed. He had a total of 96 tackles and one pick in 2010 in 12 starts, when his stock started to skyrocket.
The 5-10, 201-pound Bruin missed plenty of action in 2011, can be stiff in coverage and doesn’t possess tons of range. However, he often looks like a bigger hitter and is also a decent defender against the run and could have big-play potential at the next level.
Fifth Round (168th Overall)—Alex Hoffman-Ellis, OLB, Washington State
Alex Hoffman-Ellis collected a team-high 88 tackles and was awarded to the All-Pac-12 second team last season. He also finished with 11 tackles for a loss (TFL) with 2.0 sacks and one interception in 2011. His stock is on the rise, but he must put the past behind him in order to succeed in the league.
His biggest game last season came against Colorado where Washington State came back to win 31-27 and he registered a total of 14 tackles that day. In his college career, Hoffman-Ellis appeared in 35 games and started in 33 of them, chalking up a total of 253 total tackles (178 solo) and four interceptions (two returned for a TD).
Hoffman-Ellis needs to become more instinctive and improve his speed by reacting and reading the play quicker. He should adapt swiftly with the Raiders and showcase he can break down quickly on contact to make a tackle. For his first season, he looks to be used mostly on special teams.
Sixth Round (189th Overall)—Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado
The size factor is the biggest downside for Rodney Stewart.
After receiving an invitation and making a good impression at the Casino del sol College All-Star game, Stewart showcased his talents well in front of scouts and members of the Raiders in March at the Colorado Pro Day.
“I’m not sure what they’ll want to see from me, I’m just trying to put myself in a good position, show how athletic I am,” Stewart said in frot of local media earlier this offseason. ”They could put my numbers up against every other running back’s numbers in the country. I’m looking forward to that competition.”
He is the only player in CU history to lead the Buffaloes in rushing four consecutive seasons. Yet he still has some hills to climb in the eyes of NFL teams, who prefer running backs bigger than Stewart.
Stewart’s career school records include most carries (809), most all-purpose yards (4,828) and most receiving yards by a running back (969). He ranks second in CU history in rushing yards (3,598).
He stands at a little over 5’6, not at all the prototypical back, though Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles are both about the same size and have had immense success at the next level.
Stewart may be low to the ground, but he has an incredible vertical jump for his size of 36’inch vertical. He also had a top time in the 20-yard shuttle recording a time of 4.01 and final he wasn’t bad on his feet the 40-yard dash had a low time of 4.48.
In addition, Stewart benched 22 reps in comparison to the top back in this year’s draft Trent Richardson who is really known for his strength his Bench 25 reps and of course is a large back. What makes Stewart great is he’s hard to find on the offensive-line and he’s still hard to get down even once he’s spotted by a defender.
He has stop-go quickness and has the ability to create something out of nothing. Stewart is an impressive receiver and can become dangerous in space. Last season he was banged up bit but in the NFL with the Raiders he will become a third-down back.