Raiders' defensive draft needs

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Raiders' defensive draft needs

No doubt the Raiders' defense was their Achilles' heel last season. Enter Oakland's first defensive-minded coach since John Madden in Dennis Allen and, oh yeah, a general manager who played linebacker in the NFL in Reggie McKenzie.That said, the Raiders figure to address needs on the defensive side of the ball in the draft...DEFENSIVE LINE
Who's here: DE Lamarr Houston, DT Tommy Kelly, DT Richard Seymour, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DE Mason Brodine, DT Desmond Bryant, DT Jamie Cumbie, DE Hall Davis, NT Travis Ivey, DE Dave Tollefson.REWIND: Signing with Raiders a homecoming for Dave Tollefson
Draft needs: Simply by pure numbers, it would seem the Raiders have it covered on the D-line. But not so fast. Especially not with Allen promising multiple fronts, which would necessitate at least contemplating taking a defensive tackle such as Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman if he's still on the board at No. 95. The Raiders have also reportedly worked out Nevada defensive end Kaelin Burnett and South Florida defensive end Claude Davis.
Josh Chapman
LINEBACKERSWho's here: SLB Philip Wheeler, MLB Rolando McClain, WLB Aaron Curry, WLB Travis Goethel, OLB Carl Ihenacho.Draft needs: Extremely thin at linebacker, the Raiders might focus here early and often in the draft. Thing is, there might not be a difference-maker to be had. Oakland has reportedly worked out Houston's Sammy Brown and Washington State's Alex-Hoffman-Ellis but the most intriguing draft prospect out there is also the guy slipping off so many draft boards because of so many purported character issues -- Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders react if Burfict is still on the board when they pick.
Vontaze BurfictDEFENSIVE BACKSWho's here: CB Ron Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer, FS Michael Huff, SS Tyvon Branch, CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB Chimdi Chekwa, SS Mike Mitchell, DB Terrail Lambert, DB Pat Lee, DB Bryan McCann, DB Curtis Taylor, DB Brandon Underwood.Draft needs: A change in philosophy -- no longer simply a man-to-man coverage team -- will allow the Raiders to branch out when it comes to scouting potential DBs. The Raiders have shown interest in Iowa safety Jordan Bernstine and Albion cornerback Chris Greenwood, so they are interested in adding depth. Greenwood, though, is perhaps the most intriguing prospect, given that the Division-III All-American is tall (6-foot-1), fast (4.34 in the 40) and has already drawn comparisons to Antonio Cromartie.

Jordan BernstineSPECIALISTSWho's here: PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo.
Draft needs: The three just represented the Raiders at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and are the best at their respective positions in the AFC, if not the entire NFL. Hard to imagine the Raiders using a draft pick here. They'll sign someone for camp to spell their kickers in Napa, but that's about it.Projected starters in italics

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”