2012 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Mock Draft
John Doublin – Mar 29, 2012
As the NFL owners meetings began, the first order of business was to dole out compensatory draft picks for the 2012 NFL Draft, of which the Oakland Raiders received three—a third round, fourth round and a fifth round. This gives general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders a total of five picks with which to work.
At the moment, the Raiders are extremely close to the salary cap having just a reported $3.72 million to sign players. This isn't a lot of money in NFL terms and it will be extremely difficult for McKenzie to fill the holes on the Raiders roster. Oakland still doesn't have a starting strong side linebacker since the departure of Kamerion Wimbley.
This mock draft will operate under several assumptions and circumstances:
- The Raiders will not carry out any trades. The team isn't particularly "deep" at any position, compensatory picks cannot be traded and their remaining 5th and 6th round picks don't carry much value.
- There are no free agents at the strong side linebacker position the Raiders can afford, so it will be presumed they will address this need in the draft.
- It will be assumed that team's needs lie at strong side linebacker, depth at offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and running back.
- It appears that no other Raiders' players will restructure their contracts to save money as none have come forward to do so.
Taking these assumptions into account, what players from the incoming class of talent would fit the Raiders scheme and provide the talent required to make the Raiders better?
3rd Round (#95-Compensatory) Kyle Wilber-OLB-Wake Forest
In a previous draft article, linebacker Bruce Irvin from West Virginia occupied this position on the draft board, but after further investigation Irvin's athleticism and elite pass rushing skills will far out-weigh the off-field issues that may have caused him to fall this far on draft day.
Wilber is a very instinctive and intelligent player at the linebacker position and always seems to find the ball. He's got the length and athleticism to be solid in coverage and is a great tackler. Coming from the same school and system as Aaron Curry, Wilber should find himself right at home in Oakland.
Not known as a great pass rusher, Wilber sometimes struggles to set the edge effectively. That would be a problem in a 3-4 scheme, but Oakland will likely wait another year or two to convert to the 3-4 and for now, Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy will be responsible for the edge, leaving Wilber to do what linebackers are expected to do—make tackles—something at which Wilber excels.
4th Round (#129-Compensatory) Lucas Nix-OG-Pittsburgh
After starting his college career at right tackle, Nix was moved inside to right guard out of necessity by the Panthers' coaching staff. All he managed to do was anchor the Pitt line on their way to winning seven of their last 10 games, culminating in a Bowl win in 2010.
Nix possesses great strength at the point of attack and is an outstanding drive blocker. He consistently blows defensive tackles back and creates running lanes with apparent ease. In pass protection, Nix shows a lot of effort and determination to keep his quarterback clean. He does lack ideal quickness, but still manages to show the ability to pull, trap and lead on run plays outside the tackle when asked to do so.
Identifying the right opponent to attack in the open field has proven problematic, but that can be coached. When he is confident of his assignment, Nix explodes into opponents with authority.
With the signing of Mike Brisiel and the re-signing of Cooper Carlisle, Nix shouldn't be asked to start right away and his willingness to learn and improve will make him a viable option to replace the aging Carlisle in the future.
With his imposing physical presence, (6'5"-318) Hicks is extremely raw with a ceiling that could reach monumental proportions. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this young man is his agility and speed for his size—his "measurables" are nearly off the charts.
When a player comes from a small school coaches expect them to totally dominate their competition, and Hicks did just that. Constantly in the back field causing havoc, other-worldly burst at the snap and great penetration skills separated Hicks from the other players in his Canadian conference.
Hicks has faults as all rookies do. His lack of experience shows when he often plays too high and fails to use his arms to maintain separation from those blocking him. Game film shows Hicks taking plays off from time to time, but with the leadership of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, that is likely to be addressed immediately.
Assuming the coaching staff can improve his footwork and fundamentals, Hicks has all the tools to be elite in the league after a few years of learning from Seymour and Kelly. Hicks would provide great depth and the added bonus of being capable of playing the nose in a 3-4 should Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver choose to utilize an "odd" front.
5th Round (#168 Compensatory) Terrance Ganaway-RB-Baylor
With the loss of Michael Bush to free agency, the Raiders will be looking at running back in the fifth round and Ganaway would fit the bill nicely. Similar size, (6'0"-239 pounds) but more speed that Bush, the pile always seems to move forward when he finishes runs.
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.
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.
A 2011 second-team Academic-All American, a two time Baylor Dean's List and a five-time Big-12 Commissioner's Honor Roll selection, it's clear this kid is much more than just another "meat-head jock." He is more than capable and willing to put in the study time and work required to learn an NFL offense.
6th Round (#189) Ryan Miller-OG-Colorado
With tackle size and guard agility and speed, Miller is an intriguing prospect. Great strength and effort combine to make Miller a solid pass blocker who rarely gets beat on effort alone. His drive blocking skills in the run game are exceptional and he often puts defenders on the ground.
Having missed the 2008 season due to a broken fibula, Miller rebounded to become a reliable, hard-working player that isn't afraid of the classroom or the weight room. He was one of only 14 offensive linemen considered for the Outland Trophy and the only player from Colorado invited to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this year.
Miller's injury concerns seem to be in the past since he played all of the Buffalo's offensive snaps in 2010 and 2011. However, many "experts" are still put off by the nature of his injury and he has dropped a bit in the draft.
The weaknesses in Miller's game are all coachable. He sometimes fails to extend his arms upon initial contact, allowing the defender to get into his body and gain the leverage advantage. He also lacks some lateral quickness making it difficult to engage smaller, more agile defenders in the open field.
That said, his great agility for a man his size makes him almost ideal for the screens and sweeps Raider fans are likely to see with a healthy Darren McFadden and second-year back Taiwan Jones.
Despite the injury concerns and minor flaws in his game, Miller would be a fantastic depth pick for the Raiders in the sixth round.
With all the changes that have happened in the Raiders' organization such as the passing of Al Davis and the assumption of power by his son, Mark Davis—who promptly handed control to Reggie McKenzie, it is nearly impossible for any Raider fan, (regardless of the number of years following the team) to make an accurate prediction of how the Raiders' 2012 draft will go.
Whomever the Raiders draft in April, one thing is evident: McKenzie will get players at positions of need, that fit the system Dennis Allen is building and won't cost the team more than they're worth. This is a track-record McKenzie is creating in Oakland, and there is nothing to suggest this will change any time soon.
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