2012 NFL Draft: How Will the Oakland Raiders Use Their Compensatory Draft Picks?
John Doublin – Mar 27, 2012
The 2012 NFL owners' meetings began yesterday in Palm Beach Florida. One of the topics of discussion, (aside from "Bounty-Gate") was what teams would receive in compensation for losing free agents prior to the 2011 NFL regular season.
The Oakland Raiders and their fans were perhaps the most interested in this because without these compensatory picks, the Raiders would have just two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft this April.
It was decided that Oakland would receive three compensatory picks. The 95th overall, (end of the 3rd round), the 129th overall, (end of the 4th round) and the 168th overall, (end of the 5th round).
Since teams are not allowed to trade these picks, the question becomes what will general manager Reggie McKenzie do with Oakland's new-found selections for the 2012 NFL Draft?
NOTICE: This is not a "mock draft." This article will focus only on the compensatory picks the Raiders received at the owners meetings, not on their other two picks. A full mock draft, emcompassing the Raiders' full complement of picks is forthcoming.
Round-3: (95th overall)—Bruce Irvin, Linebacker-West Virginia
The Raiders are currently in the market for the services of linebacker Manny Lawson. However, so are the Colts and the Packers—both of which have more money to spend than the cap-strapped Raiders. Whether or not the Raiders sign Lawson, linebacker is a position of need for the men from the East-Bay.
Irvin shined at the 2012 NFL Combine. He ran a 4.5 second 40 yard dash, jumped 33 1/2" in the vertical jump, and did 23 repititions of the requisite 225 pound bench press. Irvin led all linebackers with a 6.7 second cone drill and a 4.03 second short-shuttle drill. These numbers attest to his athleticism.
At 6'3", 240 pounds, Irvin has proto-typical size to play outside linebacker in the NFL. Tape reveals that Irvin is very good in the open field and extremely stout at the point of attack, setting the edge without much trouble. His block shedding skills will serve him well in the pros as well.
Irvin's weakness lies in his inexperience. He was mis-placed as a down defensive end in West Virginia's 3-3-5 scheme, but still managed to earn all ACC honors in 2011 as a situational pass rusher.
Regarded in some circles as the best natural pass rusher in the draft, Irvin has a lot to learn about playing linebacker. This inexperience and his troubled past may cause Irvin to drop far enough that Oakland can get him late in the 3rd round.
Round-4: (129th overall)—Lucas Nix, offensive guard-Pittsburgh
Nix is a fifth-year senior that has some versatility. Having started at right tackle early in his college years, Nix was moved inside to right guard during the 2010 season. The Pitt Panthers went on to win seven of their last 10 games that season behind the blocking of Nix and the offensive line.
There are flaws in his game, but Nix shows great toughness and understanding of angles. He has shown the ability to pull and trap effectively, but sometimes struggles to find and engage linebackers at the next level. This can be coached and his pass protection should out-weigh this weakness in his game.
With the addition of Mike Brisiel and the re-signing of Cooper Carlisle at the guard postions, the Raiders don't have a pressing need for a starter at guard, but with the lack of any "natural" guards on the roster, the Raiders are extremely thin on the interior line and Nix would be a great "depth" pick-up.
Round-5: (168th overall)—Terrance Ganaway, running back-Baylor
With the loss of Michael Bush to free agency, the Raiders have signed Rashawn Jackson and practice squad player Lonyae Miller in an attempt to fill the void. However, neither of these players were able to make the active roster with their respective teams, (Panthers and Raiders). Therefore, another running back may be McKenzie's pick in the fifth round.
Ganaway had his best season in 2011 when he averaged over six yards-per-carry and scored 21 times in his 12 starts. Known more for being a power runner than a speed back, Terrance easily broke arm tackles and proved difficult to bring down. His low center of gravity and good leg drive resulted in the ability to move the pile and fall forward more often than not when being tackled.
At the 2012 NFL Scouting combine, Ganaway didn't light up the stop watches, running a 4.6 second 40 yard dash. He did, however, display good agility and the ability to catch the ball naturally and exhibited good field awareness when running routes.
It's not clear at this point if McKenzie and the Raiders staff see running back as a need, but if they do, Ganaway would provide a similar body type and running style as Bush. Using a fifth round pick to bring in a player like Ganaway to compete for the back up spot could be a great move for the Raiders.
In Closing: With the passing of the late, great Al Davis, it is becoming more and more difficult to predict the moves the Raiders will make. Regardless of what one thought of Mr. Davis' approach, Raider Nation always knew what to expect.
Those days are gone and virtually no writer or site is going to be able to accurately nail down the course of the "new era" Raiders.
With that said, don't take these draft predictions to the bank. This represents just one writer's best guess based on team needs and player availability.
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