2011 NFL Draft Grades: Oakland Raiders Filled Top Needs, but Also Took Speed

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IApril 30, 2011

Stefen Wisniewski
Stefen WisniewskiJoe Sargent/Getty Images

Some teams draft for value and need. 

For Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders, the best value is always speed.

Going into the draft, the Raiders had only three immediate needs: two offensive linemen and a cornerback.

I had hoped that the Raiders would add a quarterback, and a defensive end or linebacker.

This Raiders' draft has had some head-scratchers, and some great picks.

The Raiders filled their primary needs at center and right tackle with solid prospects in Stefen Wisniewski and Joseph Barksdale.

Overall, I would give the Raiders a "B-" for the draft.

  • Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State - A
  • DeMarcus Van Dyke, DB, Miami - C+
  • Joseph Barksdale, RT, LSU - A
  • Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State - B-
  • Taiwan Jones, HB, Eastern Washington - B
  • Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee - B-
  • Richard Gordon, TE, Miami - C
  • David Ausberry, FB/WR, USC - D

I love the Raiders' pick of Stefen Wisniewski. With the way that the Raiders run the ball, the New Wis could easily be a Pro-Bowler simply because of name-recognition.

He'll sell jerseys. He plays mean. The only knock on him was strength, but that can be fixed; especially under the tutelage of his uncle, Steve Wisniewski.

I think Joseph Barksdale will start at right tackle, and Bruce Campbell at right guard. Barksdale fell because he's projected as a right tackle, not a left tackle.

Right tackles are rarely top prospects because most quarterbacks are right-handed, thus the blind side is on the left. Barksdale must learn technique, but other than that, he's a mauler that should fit nicely into the offense.

The selection of two cornerbacks likely means that Michael Huff and/or Nnamdi Asomugha will not return.

The pick of cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke in the third round is highly debatable, but most teams have made some debatable picks this year. Van Dyke could, hypothetically, move from corner to free safety.  The Raiders also selected Chimdi Chekwa in the fourth round.

Neither player was considered highly for their ball skills. 

The Raiders must be banking on position coach Rod Woodson to coach them up.

Taiwan Jones was projected as a second round pick, so for the Raiders to select him in the late fourth round is good value. Remember, the Raiders did not have many immediate needs, so the Raiders can afford a, "luxury pick."

You also have to consider the big picture.

The Raiders need Jacoby Ford to be a wideout rather than a return specialist. (I've seen that Ford will still return punts, but I would prefer Jones as the punt and kick returner.)

In terms of height, weight and speed, Jones is comparable to Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson.

Adding Taiwan Jones gives the Raiders a home-run threat on kickoff and punt returns. Moreover, most NFL teams carry two or three running-backs these days, while Michael Bush is still technically a free agent.

Jones' injuries were a concern for most teams, but the Raiders depth at running back should allow the Raiders to maximize the home-run ability of Jones.  Moreover, the NFL has been emphasizing rules against hard hits (sometimes overemphasizing), which could make Jones an ace in the hole.

Jones will need to be more durable in the pros, and could learn from Darren McFadden, who corrected his durability issues with better eating habits.

The fifth-round pick of wideout Denarius Moore from Tennessee is also a head-scratcher, simply because the Raiders have several other wideout prospects on the roster.  Moore is considered NFL ready, so he could be a sleeper pick.

The Raiders selected Richard Gordon in the sixth round. A very raw prospect with next to no collegiate production in football, but has intriguing multi-sport talent for a tight end, and the willingness to work in order to develop his potential.

My guess is that the Raiders see him as another Antonio Gates; same height, similar weight (difference of five pounds) and Gordon reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, which is the same as Antonio Gates. Gordon also played basketball.

With the final pick, the Raiders took David Ausberry. Sportsline.com has him listed as a fullback, yet his profile is related to his role as a wide receiver.  My guess is that Al Davis sees him as another Marcel Reece.  Or perhaps competition for the third spot at tight end in a draft that was not deep at tight end