Trade rumors swirl, Raiders stand pat Thursday

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Trade rumors swirl, Raiders stand pat Thursday

April 28, 2011RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEONFL DRAFT-TRACKER: RAIDERS
NFL PAGEPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

ALAMEDA - The morning began with rumors of the Raiders trading up into the first round to draft UNR's Colin Kaepernick as their quarterback of the future.The afternoon started with stories of the Raiders instead trading up into the first round to select Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith to replace Nnamdi Asomugha.Instead, Oakland stood pat.Without a first-round draft pick for the first time since 1989 - Oakland traded this year's first-rounder to New England for defensive lineman Richard Seymour on the eve of the 2009 season - the Raiders are scheduled to pick 16th on Friday, No. 48 overall. They should go on the clock at about 5 p.m. PT.That's not to say the Raiders did not entertain thoughts, or offers, of moving up."There was so much phone-calling going on in that room like you wouldn't believe," said first-year coach Hue Jackson. "There were a lot of opportunities but nothing that really fit for us, for exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Obviously, the player has to be there when you want to trade with somebody.
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"I think a lot of people wanted to get out of the first round. It's a different type of draft, obviously, because of what's been going on (with the work stoppage), so I think a lot of teams wanted to make sure that (the) value of a player was very important."The Raiders, coming off an 8-8 season, their best finish since the 2002 Super Bowl campaign, are in a situation where they can draft for need, rather than simply take the best player available.As such, the Raiders have immediate needs at offensive line and in the secondary. And they are still rumored to be interested in Kaepernick. Smith, meanwhile, was selected No. 26 overall by Baltimore.The player many draft observers have long seen the Raiders taking with their first pick is Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, nephew of former Raiders offensive guard standout and new Raiders offensive line assistant Steve Wisniewski.
GUTIERREZ: Five players the Raiders might be targeting
Coincidentally, the elder Wisniewski was drafted No. 29 overall, the first pick of the second round, by Dallas in 1989. Yes, the last time Oakland did not have a first-rounder before the Raiders immediately acquired his rights.Jackson said he was confident the player, or players, the Raiders have on their radar would be available when they pick."There's still a lot of good players on that board, a lot of guys that we evaluated and are sitting there for us," he said. "This is a process. It can change. You can wake up in the morning and after our first pick, the whole board can go upside down or it can stay consistent and just keep on flowing."Tomorrow, I have a very good idea of how this is going to unfoldhopefully, there'll be five or six guys hat are there, we'll wrassle with them and figure out who the best guy is to wear Silver and Black."

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.