Gutierrez: Five players the Raiders might be targeting


Gutierrez: Five players the Raiders might be targeting

Paul Gutierrez

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft passed without a word from the Oakland Raiders. Here are five players Oakland could look at in the second and third rounds Friday:1) UNR quarterback Colin Kaepernick
The Raiders seem smitten with the athletic signal caller who operated out of the "Pistol" offense in Reno. His build is reminiscent of Marc Wilson; his release that of Bernie Kosar. With Jason Campbell the starter and Kyle Boller signed to be the backup, Kaepernick would have time to develop.2) Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski
He has the bloodline (uncle Steve is a Raider great and the team's new assistant O-line coach), the nasty temperament to match and would fill a need. But does Li'l Wiz excel at left guard or center. And in a zone-blocking scheme or power-running scheme? Raiders fans would still love to find out.
3) Florida State offensive lineman Rodney Hudson
Many draftniks see the Raiders intrigued by this mobile center-guard specimen as well. Especially if he's as much a grinder in the trenches as advertised.4) Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke
With Nnamdi Asomugha still a huge question mark, and last year's draftees at corner, Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware, unproven, the Raiders need to lock at fortifying the secondary as well. Why not do it with the fastest player at the Combine?5) Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh
A physical, pressing corner who seems to fit the Raiders' brand of man-to-man defense. He has also long been linked to to Oakland, though he might be had in the later rounds.

Raiders select DT Eddie Vanderdoes in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Raiders select DT Eddie Vanderdoes in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Defensive tackle
College: UCLA
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 305 pounds
Selection: Third round, No. 88 overall

The Raiders needed depth at defensive tackle. They got some in Eddie Vanderdoes. Whether he helps provide an interior pass rush – he needs improvement in that area -- or joins a run stuffing rotation will be determined in time, but the UCLA product is a solid athlete despite not looking the part. He’s agile with exceptional strength capable of dominating blockers along the interior line.

Good push is needed against the run and pass, especially with Dan Williams released in a salary cap move earlier this month.

Draft analysts say Vanderdoes brings toughness to his position group, and doesn’t mind taking on double teams. He has better pass-rush ability than his stats and shape suggests, assuming he can continue to develop that aspect of the game.

He’s from Auburn, just northeast of Sacramento, and will be happy playing closer to home the next few seasons.

Vanderdoes has an injury history. He missed most of the 2015 season with an ACL tear and didn’t seem to be 100 percent in 2016, when his performance took a dive. If Vanderdoes can return to pre-injury form, the Raiders have a solid player on the roster.

They didn’t produce enough in the middle against the run or pass, and need help to form a rotation capable of slowing opponents down on the interior. He can play on the nose or in three technique if asked, adding strength and versatility to the base package. Creating interior push could help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin off the edge.

The Raiders entered this draft needing defensive help, and have added three players on that side of the football. The Silver and Black still need help at linebacker as they move into the draft’s third day, where depth can be added to this group.

Raiders select safety Obi Melifonwu in second round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Raiders select safety Obi Melifonwu in second round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Safety
College: Connecticut
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 224
Selection: Second round, No. 56 overall

The Raiders don’t have many safeties, a position group with Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph and not much else.

They added a physical specimen in the second round, someone who can play aggressive near the line of scrimmage. Melifonwu stands 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, which gives him an advantage intercepting and breaking up passes.

This is an excellent value at this spot in the second round, and provides depth and competition at a key defensive spot. He can cover tight ends well without being a size mismatch, an asset the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons. He’s a hard-hitting tackler with breakneck speed. He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine and jumped out of the building during agility drills.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said during the draft broadcast that Melifonwu can play press cornerback and linebacker in certain packages outside his natural safety spot. He has great range, helped by size and speed to cover miscalculations.

Analysts say he can be slow to diagnosis plays, but could be aided by veterans around him in the Raiders backfield. He also struggles at times as the last line of defense.

The Raiders have taken two defensive backs in as many selections, trying to fortify a pass defense ranked a disappointing 24th last season. They gave up too many big plays in the back, and the Raiders had drafted players who can shore up that deficiency.

General manager Reggie McKenzie prefers size in the secondary, and they got a player with great physical traits who can be developed into an even better player.

Incumbent members of the Raiders secondary should be on notice, with young bucks set to compete for significant playing time. It should be a deeper, tougher unit with Melifonwu and first-round pick Gareon Conley.

He impressed at the NFL scouting combine and the Senior Bowl, where he proved he compete with higher-level competition. If Melinfonwu and Conley make an immediate impact, the Raiders pass defense should be much improved.