2012 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders' Middle-Round Prospects

big ROC Stockton, CAAnalyst IIIJanuary 8, 2012

This beast should help shore up the run defense.
This beast should help shore up the run defense.

After the Carson Palmer trade, the Raiders are without a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  They also have dealt away their second-, third-, and fourth-round picks.  The Raiders will, however, be receiving compensatory picks for losing Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery, Thomas Howard and Zach Miller in free agency last year.  

They likely will be awarded three third round picks and a fourth-round pick.  

The Raiders won't have any high draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft unless they pull off another trade of some sort.  Not to worry.  The Raiders have done fairly well picking up talent in middle to late rounds of the draft.  The Raiders have picked up guys like Michael Bush, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Shane Lechler and Tyvonn Branch after the first day of the draft.  

In 2011, the Raiders were really close to being a dominant team.  At times, they looked unbeatable.  They are just a few pieces away from being a legitimate contender.  

With new general manager Reggie McKenzie now in Oakland, it is safe to say the Raiders' late round success in the draft will continue.  Here are a few players who will be available when the Raiders are on the clock:


Defensive Tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor

In 2011, one of the glaring weaknesses of the Raiders was their inability to stop the run.  Early in the year, the defensive line looked like it was going to be a strength of the Raiders.  A season-ending injury to defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, along with nagging injuries to interior linemen Richard Seymour and John Henderson, made the Raiders' front four a weakness.  

The Raiders would be wise to add a big man like Jean-Baptiste to the rotation.  At 6'2" and 335 pounds he would give us much needed size and power in the middle.  Lets face it.  Seymour, Kelly and Henderson aren't getting any younger.


Defensive Tackle Hebron Fangupo, Brigham Young

Just like the first man I listed, the 6'1" 330 pounder would give the Raiders another big and powerful body to add to the rotation.  The California native is built just like Packers nose tackle BJ Raji.  General manager Reggie McKenzie just might have his eye on this kid already.  He should be available late in the draft.


Defensive End Jake Bequette, Arkansas

Another weakness the Raiders had in 2011 was their inability to get to the passer.  I know they had a decent amount of sacks (39), but the Raiders lacked a true defensive end who could get after the passer.  In the season finale with the division on the line, the Raiders couldn't get any pressure on Philip Rivers.  

Jake Bequette would give the Raiders a legit edge rusher.  He also is big enough, 6'5" 270 pounds, to help against the run.  He had 10 sacks in the 10 games he played last season.


Strong Safety Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

The Raiders secondary was probably the team's biggest weakness last season.  Michael Huff missed a lot of games and strong safety Tyvon Branch is an unrestricted free agent.  Undoubtedly, the Raiders are going to have to add a safety to the mix.  

Harrison Smith would be a very good addition to the Raiders.  He is big at 6'2" 215 pounds and is very good in coverage.  In 2010, he had 93 tackles and seven interceptions.  Three of his interceptions came against Miami in the Sun Bowl.  In 2011, he had another 90 tackles and 10 pass defenses.

Strong Safety Matt Daniels, Duke

Daniels has good size at 6'1" 210 lbs and is a tackling machine from the secondary.  In the last two seasons, he has 219 tackles, four forced fumbles and three interceptions.  He had double digit tackles in five games last season, including 18 tackles against North Carolina in the season finale.  

One thing the Raiders have been lacking is sure-tackling defensive backs.  Matt Daniels would help out a lot in that department.

Smith could start or give the Raiders much needed depth at safety.
Smith could start or give the Raiders much needed depth at safety.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


Guard Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State

Another weakness the Raiders had last season was the strength of their interior offensive line.  Center Samson Satele and right guard Cooper Carlisle are both sub-300 pounders.  They have problems against the bigger defensive tackles in the NFL.  

At 6'3" 324 pounds, Silatolu has the body and strength to hold up against the guys that gave Carlisle problems.  If Bruce Campbell or Joe Barksdale aren't ready to take Carlisle's spot, I think this kid can fill the void.  He finished second in the Gene Upshaw Linemen of the Year voting.

These were just a few of the guys who could come in and help the Raiders.  The Raiders definitely need some young defensive linemen with Seymour, Kelly and Henderson well into their 30s.  

The Raiders might lose Tyvonn Branch to free agency.  Even if they don't, they still need to add depth to the secondary because Mike Mitchell and Jerome Boyd couldn't cover if their life depended on it.  

The Raiders also need to upgrade the center and guard positions.  I think the Raiders offensive line looked the strongest when Samson Satele was hurt and Stefan Wisniewski started at center with Stephon Heyer at guard.  

The Raiders need some bigger offensive linemen if they are going to become the bully Hue Jackson wants them to be.

Well, that is it, Raider Nation.  Are their any other mid to late round prospects the Raiders should have their eye's on?  Let me know what you think.  Thanks for reading.