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Raiders Just Couldn’t Do Much in 2012 NFL Draft

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The Oakland Raiders couldn’t do much during the 2012 NFL draft, but don’t blame new General Manager Reggie McKenzie, or new head coach Bruce Allen. In all likelihood, the Raiders are not ready to compete for an AFC West title this season, but McKenzie and Allen have added depth and did what they could.

The jury is still out on the Carson Palmer trade. Before either McKenzie or Allen were leaders of the franchise, the ‘Silver and Black’ pulled off a gutsy trade for the former Pro Bowl quarterback. This year’s draft was immensely affected by the trade, and the Raiders could be feeling the blow for a long time if Palmer cannot live up to the expectations the Raiders have for him.

To be fair, Palmer had little time to learn the Oakland offense and had no training camp. One would hope, for Oakland’s sake, that the former top-tier quarterback can reenergize his career.

As for the draft, McKenzie showed his willingness to look toward the future – something the Raiders have gambled on in the past. Yes, McKenzie, the former Green Bay executive, could have traded up to get a pick in first or second round of this year’s draft, but that wouldn’t have solved Oakland’s problem. The problem that McKenzie inherited was former management betting the future for the now. The Carson Palmer trade and even the drafting of Tyrell Pryor indicated that prior to bringing in McKenzie that Oakland was intent on getting players instead of stockpiling draft picks. All one has to do is look at the team that covets draft picks more than any other franchise – the New England Patriots. The Pats have traded back a staggering amount of times in the last decade. They draft players who fit needs and build depth instead of eyeing one player and doing all it takes to jump up and get him.

McKenzie, the first-year GM, did just that this year. He bided his time and made a nice pick in the third round, Oakland’s first selection of the draft The Raiders selected Tony Bergstrom from Utah. Bergstrom started games at both guard and tackle during his time as a Ute and bolsters the Oakland running attack.

Bergstrom might even for a starting job, not likely, but he is a talented guard that gives Oakland options.

In the fourth rounder, Oakland picked a player who is versatile and could help a defense that struggled last year. San Diego State’s Miles Burris is a good outside linebacker that has ability to pressure the quarterback as well as cover. He can provide depth behind Kamerion Wimbley and also might be able to play with his hand on the ground in certain pass situations.

The Raiders addressed the front seven and that’s a must in the AFC West. You have to be able to rush the passer in a division that has Manning, Rivers, and even Matt Cassel.

Oakland continued to add defensive help in both the fifth, sixth and seventh round. All three players, Crawford, Bilukidi and Stupar add depth and size to the front seven. Last year, behind the starters, Oakland was thin up front and these picks should bolster the bottom-half of the depth chart.

Switching up to the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders’ fifth round pick, Juron Criner is a little puzzling. I thought Oakland may look for more depth on the offensive line, but Criner might be a good asset. He’s almost the complete opposite of the current receiving corps. He’s on the bigger side, measuring in at just under 6’3 and 225 pounds. With Heyward-Bey and a speedster, Criner might add some size to the position. However, he definitely lacks speed. He ran a 4.68 at the NFL combine which, for a receiver, was on the slower end of the spectrum. It was also a puzzling pick because he really did not produce at Arizona State. He played in 13 games last season, caught six balls for 77 yards and scored one touchdown. Definitely an interesting pick, but if the Raiders’ have a hunch it might be worth a late-round pick.

Unrelated to the draft, the Raiders signed Matt Leinart. Not a bad move here. It is not flashy and there are always people who say he hasn’t lived up to his first-round pick, but he can be a solid backup. What do you want out of your backup quarterback? You want him to be there if your No. 1 goes down, you want him to know the offense, and you want him to be supportive of the starter. Well, Leinart can do those things. He may never be the player he was drafted to be, but Leinart can be an effective emergency starter. More importantly, he knows the offense and can help Palmer get up to speed. New Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp came from Houston, which is where Leinart played last season. Leinart knows Knapp’s system and he proved to be a useful backup in Houston. Finally, you want a guy as your No. 2 that can work well with the starter. What do Leinart and Palmer have in common? Well, how about wearing the USC uniform and both winning a Heisman? The guys know each other and work well with each other. This would be a good move for Oakland. And let’s be honest, anybody who thinks Tyrelle Pryor could be a legitimate backup and more than just a offensive gimmick is kidding themselves.

Overall , a decent draft and weekend for the Silver and Black. Nothing flashy, but they did alright considering their limitations. Raider fans, be patient, McKenzie has a plan and he’s going to stick to it.

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