Jan 23, 2013; Mobile AL, USA; Senior Bowl north squad head coach Dennis Allen of the Oakland Raiders during the Senior Bowl north squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders: An Early Look At Potential Draft Prospects

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Heading in to the 2013 NFL offseason, the Oakland Raiders are going to have a ton of holes that they need to fill.

They had one of the worse defenses in terms of points allowed as they gave up an average of 27.7 points per game and 354.5 yards per game. Their offense was not much better but they were middle of the road in terms of yards per game at 344. Their main problem on offense was their total lack of scoring offense as they had the seventh worse scoring offense with a pathetic 18.1 points per game.

I strongly believe that this is a team that needs to looks to the future and blow up the current team and rebuild around what little young talent that they possess.

As I said earlier, this team has a lot of holes in the roster, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. They could use a talent increase in all three levels of the defense.

This is the prefect draft for the Raiders to add pieces to the defense as the draft is deep in defensive talent, especially on the defensive line where the Raiders finished second to last in creating sacks with just 25.

Let’s put this in perspective, the Raiders as a team had less sacks that Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks had combined for at 26. So building that defensive line is going to be important for a much maligned Raiders’ defense as it sets the foundation of the defense and can hide deficiencies in the other positions. So let us take a quick glance at several players the Raiders would possibly be interested in looking into during the early rounds of the draft.

* A quick disclaimer as I feel the Raiders should look into making trades to compile more picks than they currently have, but this article is going to under the premise that they stay with their current selection of picks.

Defensive Line:

Nov 10, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) during the game against the Washington Huskies at CenturyLink Field. Washington defeated Utah 34-15. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Star Lotulelei, DT – Utah: The Raiders inability to rush the passer probably has you thinking why would they go for defensive tackle that early in the draft. Think of players such as Haloti Ngata and Justin Smith as players that make the others around them better as they can take the spotlight of opposing offenses opening up things for other players.

Lotulelei has that ability as he comes in at six foot and four inches tall and 320 pounds. He will help the Raiders run game immediately as he can collapse the interior and will help the pass rush as he takes up multiple blockers allowing the guys on the outside to get one on one match ups. Projected: Top 10

Bjoern Werner, DE – Florida St.: Werner is the top pass rushing defensive end in this year’s class. Werner racked up 23.5 sacks during his time in Tallahassee, including 13 this last fall.

Werner is a superb athlete that has a very quick first step and has good strength. He also has surprisingly good instincts and football awareness, despite just playing the sport for just five years.

The one area that Werner can look to improve is his run stopping ability and his run pursuit. Werner has immediate impact potential as a pass rusher and he still has a lot of room to grow as he is still raw when it comes to sport of football. Projected: Top 5

Demontre Moore, DE – Texas A&M: Moore is not that far behind Werner for the top pass rusher and has the potential to be selected before him. Moore is a long, lean athlete in the mold of Aldon Smith.

Moore has great athletic potential as he has a very quick first step and flashes impressive speed off the edge. He also displays the ability to seal the edge in the run good and flashes good potential as a run stopper in the NFL. The knock on Moore is that he sometimes plays with a high pad level and fails to get proper leverage. Can play as a 4-3 end or 3-4 rush backer. Projected: Top 10

October 20, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Devin Taylor (98) rushes as Florida Gators offensive linesman Chaz Green (75) attempted to block during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 44-11. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Taylor, DE – South Carolina: Taylor is an intriguing prospect due to his combination of size and athleticism. He stands at six feet and eight inches tall and weighs in around 270 pounds and looks to be able to add more weight to his frame without sacrificing athleticism.

Taylor is fast, explosive athlete at the defensive end position. Taylor is a high cut athlete that his stiff in hips, which leads to lack of flexibility and agility in the short area spaces. Projected: Rounds 3 – 4

Sylvester Williams, DT – North Carolina: Williams is the victim of a very deep defensive line class.

Any other year, Williams would probably be off the board around the middle of round one, but with so many elite talents available it will push him to the second or third round. He has great size and girth, but also possesses great short area quickness. He can sometimes fail to get great push in the interior as he looks to penetrate rather than hold the point. Projected: Rounds 2 – 3

Akeem Spence, DT – Illinois: Spence looks to be more of a run stopper than a pass rusher. He is strong at the point of the attack and is a physical tackler around the line of scrimmage.

He would be an excellent option for the Raiders if they choose to go with a pass rusher early on in the draft as Spence lacks the off the ball explosion to be a legitimate pass rusher, but his ability to be stout in the running game will make him a valuable role player. Projected: Rounds 3 – 4

Linebacker:

Arthur Brown, OLB – Kansas St.: Brown looks to have the potential to be an elite sideline to sideline linebacker. He posses good speed and instincts that allow him to make plays all over the field.

Also displayed the ability to be fluid in coverage. Brown possesses great blitzing ability that will allow him to be pass rush threat at the next level. He will be looked at as undersized, which could cause him to slip in the draft as teams wonder if his frame could hold up over the long term. He could play either inside or outside, depending on whether he can add more size to his frame. Projected: Round 2

Brandon Jenkins, OLB – Florida St.: Jenkins was an explosive pass rusher for the Seminoles. He shows good burst and acceleration. He shows good strength in his arms and upper body, but can get swallowed up by blockers on occasion. Jenkins needs to improve his leverage as he can play high. He is coming off a season ending Lisfranc injury. Projected: Rounds 3 – 4

Nico Johnson, ILB – Alabama:Johnson is the type of player coaches love as he does whatever he can to help the team and provides

November 3, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson (35) reacts against the LSU Tigers during a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

maximum effort on every play.

He is a very smart player and shows very good awareness and always plays to his assignment. He is only an adequate athlete as he lacks great top end speed, but he shows good hustle and a non stop motor.

He may not be as athletic as fellow Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, but does not come with the headaches that McClain has become infamous for lately. Projected: Round 3 – 4

Kiko Alonso, ILB – Oregon: Alonso is the type of athlete that exemplifies the Oregon defense as he is explosive and aggressive. Alson possesses decent speed and attacks down hill very well.

He makes a lot of plays where he slashes in through the with quickness and cuts down the ball carrier. Flashes decent coverage skills and is a versatile athlete as he could play inside or outside. He can be over aggressive at times and runs himself out of the play. He also can have trouble shedding blockers in the run game. Projected: Round 4

Kevin Reddick, ILB – North Carolina: Reddick is very similar to Alonso as they both seem to linear athletes that are at their best when attacking down hill. Reddick is a faster player than Alonso, but he tends to be too stiff and lacks the agility to be a sideline to sideline player.

He is intelligent player and during the senior bowl showed the ability to be leader as he was vocal and stepped to the forefront as a leader for the North defense, which was coached by the Raiders’ staff. Reddick will probably be better suited in an interior role in mainly run stopping situations. Projected: Round 4

Defensive Back:

David Amerson, DB – NC State: Amerson is versatile player that could potentially play corner or safety at the next level. He possesses great play making ability as he flashes elite ball hawking skills. He also has great size and shows good physicality in his play. He seems a little stiff in his hips and seems slow in his ability to transition from his back pedal. That is the major factor that could ultimately push Amerson to safety. Projected: Rounds 2 – 3

Robert Alford, CB – Southeast Louisiana: Alford looks to be the big name of players from small schools. Alford possesses decent size at the corner position. He has great physical tools as he pairs great speed and quickness with fluid hips.

He also displays the ability to be a solid return man at the next level. Alford can be ineffective in the run game as he has tendency to not be an overly strong tackler. He can be over aggressive in coverage and pushed around by bigger receivers. Projected: Round 2 – 3

November 10, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs cornerback Leon McFadden (2) during the game against the Air Force Falcons at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Leon McFadden, CB – San Diego St.: McFadden has the potential to be a solid cover corner in the NFL. He shows good athleticism with his quick feet and good overall speed.

He displays fluids hips in his ability to transition from his back pedal. He possesses good ball skills and will make plays on the ball with solid hands. McFadden also shows a willingness to stick in his nose in the run game and make a tackle. He does not have great size for the position and can get pushed around by bigger receivers off the line and in jump ball situations. Projected: Rounds 3-5

T.J. McDonald, S – USC: McDonald is the son of former Niner great Tim McDonald.

T.J. McDonald possesses elite size and athleticism for the position that will draw many comparisons to former Trojan Taylor Mays. McDonald seems to be more fluid in coverage and can be a legitimate cover safety in the NFL.

He is a ferocious tackler and has the ability to step up and be a major force in the run game. He also flashes good hands and the ability to make plays on the ball. He does not posses great coverage skills as he lacks short area quickness and agility. He also does not have good instincts in coverage and can get burned by the play action pass and double moves. Projected: Rounds 3-5

Robert Lester, S – Alabama: Lester was a big name on the Alabama defense after recording eight interceptions during his sophomore season, but has not been able to reproduce that output since.

Lester possesses great size and length to be a good coverage safety. His play making abilities are his best attribute. He shows great tracking abilities and good hands when making a play. He does not possess great top end speed and that could ultimately hinder his ability to be a deep cover safety at the next level. He also lacks fluid hips and does not show quickness with his feet. Projected: Rounds 4-5

Offensive Help:

The Raiders need a young quarterback that they can groom into their quarterback of the future, but there are no quarterbacks that will solve that problem in this draft.

Travis Frederick, OG/C – Wisconsin: Frederick is a big bodied lineman that can play either center or guard. He is technically sound as

Oct 27, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Travis Frederick (72) during warmups prior to the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Camp Randall Stadium. Michigan State defeated Wisconsin 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

he comes from a program known for turning out solid linemen. He possesses good strength to anchor at the point of attack. He lacks quickness and athleticism to effectively get around the edge on a pull. He will also have to keep his weight in check as he gets older. Projected: Round 2 – 3

Kyle Long, OT/OG – Oregon: Kyle Long is the son of former Raider legend Howie Long.

Long does not have much experience playing football as he initially played baseball coming out of high school. He possesses tremendous upside as he is a natural athlete. He has good size and strength as he shows good push in the run game. He has a nastiness to his game that you would like a lineman to possess.

Long has good mobility to get around the edge. He is still raw in his development as baseball was his early focus out of high school, but he has been on the rise ever since stepping on to campus at Oregon. He would have possibly been a first round prospect if he would have been granted a second year at Oregon. Projected: Rounds 2 – 3

Le’Von Bell, RB – Michigan St.: Bell was a work horse back for the Spartans during his career. He possesses great size at the running back position. He has the ability to thrive as a short yardage back, but he does have the potential to be a solid two down back.

He has a nice burst, but lacks the top end speed to pull away at the NFL level. He also does not possess great vision as he is better going north and south than trying to get to the outside. Projected: Round 4

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