Oakland’s long list of offseason needs is centered primarily around its defense. The Raiders finished 18th against the run, 18th in total yards, 20th against the run, 28th in scoring and next-to-last in sacks in 2012.
But important decisions will also have to be made at quarterback. Carson Palmer, 33, is expected to restructure his bloated contract or hit the open market and this could be the time the team gives Terrelle Pryor a chance to become the starter. In addition, not a single receiver with the Raiders has registered 1,000 yards in a single season since 2005.
Pro Bowl talent is also scarce and the team doesn’t have the resources to spend much in 2013 NFL Free Agency, so it’s clear that the Raiders won’t be build in a day, but general manager Reggie McKenzie branded himself in Green Bay as being able to build teams through the draft. And contrary to last year when the club had just two mid-round picks, McKenzie will have more to work with this April.
It’s entirely possible that the team—which enters the three-day event with six draft choices—could trade out of the third spot to stockpile additional picks, but let’s throw trade scenarios out the window right now and look at five prospects the team could take with the third overall pick on draft day (in no particular order).
1. Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Phillip Wheeler is an impending free agent and Rolando McClain’s days are numbered with the Raiders. Miles Burris was also a minor disappointment in his first year, but he was selected in the fifth round last April and would perform better with a stronger supporting cast. Enter Dion Jordan, a projected 3-4 outside linebacker out of Oregon with immense potential at the next level.
Equipped with a rare combination of size and athleticism for a player at his position, Jordan is a dangerous defender in the open field in coverage and whenever he pressures the quarterback. He was rock-solid at the scouting combine last month in Indianapolis, where it was revealed that he had gained about 20 pounds since the end of the 2012 season, yet only had 3.8 percent body fat.
Jordan collected a total of 44 tackles, including 5.0 sacks and a whopping 10.5 tackles for loss in 2012.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
West Virginia’s most accurate and prolific passer in school history put up stellar numbers throughout his college career, completing 369 of 518 passes (71 percent) for 4,265 yards with 42 TDs to six INTs in 2012.
Albeit his talent doesn’t necessarily warrant him being a Top 10-talent, it would be almost impossible for Smith to still be on the board after the first 10 teams have been on the clock as the supply of potential franchise quarterbacks doesn’t meet the need around the NFL.
It’s also worth noting that Ryan Tannehill was seen as a significant reach by draft pundits last year, but the eighth overall selection of the Miami Dolphins had a very solid rookie season and should only continue to improve with added weapons.
3. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Richard Seymour doesn’t appear to be coming back in 2013. Desmond Bryant is also a free agent and got in trouble for a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. Tommy Kelly is a lazy player more interested in hurting the opposing quarterback than winning a game.
Sharrif Floyd, an explosive and versatile defensive tackle on the rise, looks to be a lock for the Top 10—if not the Top 5 on draft day after a stellar junior year with the Gators and really raising eyebrows at the NFL Combine.
He has very good initial quickness with step-and-punch explosion. Slightly stiff ankles to COD (change of direction), but hustle, motor and production are all in place. Despite suspect arm length, he doesn’t play short-armed.
4. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Another star prospect that can fit right in and address a pressing need in the interior of the defensive line is Star Lotulelei. Despite concerns with his heart condition, Lotulelei remains at the top of many scouts’ boards. He has the ability to play in 3-4 (NT) and 4-3 (1-tech) schemes.
Star is a physical and violent player who plays until the whistle blows and was a star senior defensive tackle for the Utes this past season, recording three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries (T-2nd in the nation) and four pass breakups.
5. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
There’s no No. 1 CB in the Raiders’ secondary and Michael Huff needs to switch back to safety. Dee Milliner, a 2012 first-team All-American selection, racked up 51 tackles, 18 pass deflections and two interceptions this past season at Alabama. He’s the consensus top defensive back in this draft class and would provide a combination of size, speed and strength not seen from the position in a while in Oakland.
Oren Shiri is the Creative Director and an analyst at GridironGrit and Founder of NFL Draft Insiders. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow @NFLorentime and @GridironGrit on Twitter to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!