The Oakland Raiders filled some holes in the NFL draft, but their draft wasn’t perfect.
Oakland selected D.J. Hayden with the 12th pick in the draft, and they got some potential stars in Sio Moore and Menelik Watson. However, they also failed to address some major needs, which will cost the team in the future.
Which needs did the Raiders fail to address? Here are three glaring holes Oakland failed to fill in the draft.
Oakland lost Brandon Myers to the Giants in free agency, and their current tight ends combined for a measly nine catches in 2012. The Raiders took tight ends Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera in the sixth round, but neither are great players, and neither will make a huge difference.
David Ausberry caught seven passes in 2012, and he is Oakland’s leading tight end in terms of 2012 production. Rivera is a speedy tight end who caught one pass or more in his last 18 games, but he isn’t going to be a star. Rivera caught 36 passes in 2012 and was able to put up solid numbers, although some attention was deflected away from him due to Tennessee’s dominant wide receiver tandem of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson taking up defenders.
Kasas wasn’t as productive as Rivera, but he still averaged 15.6 yards per catch. Both of these guys can make an impact, but they won’t be as productive as some of the draft’s top tight ends. Obtaining Tyler Eifert wouldn’t have been a great move due to lots of other needs to be fulfilled in the first round, but adding a tight end in the second or third round wouldn’t have been a bad move at all.
The tight end is becoming an extremely important position, especially for a team that needs to support Matt Flynn with playmakers. Flynn lit up two below-average defenses during his two starts in 2010 and 2011, throwing nine touchdowns and two interceptions during those games. However, he had talented receivers to make plays for him there.
And in Oakland, Flynn doesn’t have that.
Oakland had lots of holes to fill, but they need to realize that Flynn (assuming he wins the starting job) won’t be effective without playmakers. Flynn torched the 23rd-ranked Lions defense in 2011 and the 25th-ranked Patriots defense in 2010, but he’s going to face good defenses too. The Raiders already don’t have great pass-catchers, and they failed to add one by avoiding the tight end position.
Tight ends are becoming primary targets for quarterbacks, and if Flynn developed good chemistry with a solid tight end, it could pay dividends. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Flynn won’t have the luxury of a security blanket.
Defensive Line/Pass Rush
Aldon Smith had more sacks than Oakland’s defense at one point in December, so it’s safe to say the Raiders could have used a quality pass-rusher.
The Raiders used their first pick on Hayden and their second pick on Watson, and neither of those guys are pass-rushers. Oakland took Moore with 66th pick in the draft, and he was a solid pass-rusher at Connecticut. However, there were 65 players drafted ahead of him, and Moore was inconsistent at times.
Adding a defensive end in one of the first two rounds would have been smart. Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan, Sharrif Floyd and Ezekiel Ansah were on the board for the Raiders before they traded down with Miami, and Floyd hadn’t been picked when Oakland made their first selection.
Picking Floyd would have been risky, and the same goes with Jordan. However, while there are concerns about both players, both are talented, and both would have helped the Raiders. There were plenty of defensive lineman who registered a solid amount of sacks and would have been nice additions for the Raiders, but Oakland chose to veer off in another direction.
The Raiders ranked 20th in pass defense, and they ranked 31st in sacks. Hayden is a solid corner who could develop into a star, but Oakland’s primary focus in the first round should have been the pass rush. Getting pressure on the quarterback helps the secondary, and adding a good pass-rusher could have filled that need.
Ansah and Jordan didn’t put up great numbers, but there were plenty of pass-rushers who registered gaudy stats throughout the draft. Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t in this year’s draft class, and he could end up in Oakland next year, but adding a good defensive end still should have been higher on Oakland’s list of priorities.
The pass rush will struggle again, and the Raiders will pay for failing to select a pass-rusher early. The pass rush was Oakland’s biggest need in 2012, but the Raiders shied away from it. If Moore exceeds expectations, things will be fine for the Raiders, but it’s safe to expect Oakland’s dreadful pass rush to put up poor numbers again.
Flynn could definitely use some playmakers, and the Raiders didn’t make much of an effort to get him any.
It’s hard for any quarterback to succeed without much help, but it will be even harder for Flynn in Oakand. Flynn has thrown five career interceptions on 141 throws, which is one interception every 28.2 throws. That’s about one interception per game, which is too many.
When you consider that Flynn has thrown to playmakers in his limited action, it’s even more concerning. Flynn has poor arm strength and isn’t extremely accurate, and he needs big-play receivers to bail him out. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were able to make some great catches in Green Bay, but no one can do that in Oakland.
The next Calvin Johnson wasn’t going to be obtained in the draft, but there were some noteworthy players. The receiving class was very deep, and the Raiders could have added a potential top-tier wideout even with a fourth-round pick. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they didn’t do this.
Flynn threw 11 interceptions in college, when he last saw major playing time. He’s going to turn the ball over a lot, and as the Raiders know from turnover-prone Carson Palmer going 8-17 as a Raider, that’s not a good thing. Flynn isn’t great at threading the needle when he has a small throwing window, and he’ll likely have to throw into a lot of those due to a lack of separation gained by Oakland’s wide receivers.
If he can’t find a receiver open, Flynn is more likely to force passes and make mistakes. Flynn isn’t a game-changer and needs help, which a top-notch pass-catcher could have provided. If Flynn is frustrated with the production from the wide receivers, it could cause discord in the locker room, and that’s the last thing the Raiders need.
Because when you are coming off of a 4-12 season and have the worst Super Bowl odds, any extra problems will kill the team. The Raiders have a huge one on their hands at wide receiver.
This article was originally published on Bleacher Report.