2012 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Potential 4th Round Picks
John Doublin – Apr 12, 2012
With Reggie McKenzie spear-heading the charge into the "new era" of Oakland Raiders football, a new mentality permeates the team. There will be no more ridiculous salaries, no more prima-donnas and only young, hungry, reasonably priced players will be donning the Silver and Black in 2012.
The moves already made by McKenzie prove this new philosophy. Philip Wheeler, Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, Mike Brisiel and Dave Tollefson have been signed to reasonable contracts in line with their past production. More importantly, these players all expressed interest in being Raiders for the sake of being a Raider.
Look for the same philosophy to be applied to the 2012 NFL Draft.
McKenzie will not be taking the fastest or the strongest guy regardless of position. It's more likely the Raiders will be drafting players that are the best available player at positions of need.
With their first pick not coming until the end of the 3rd round, McKenzie and the Raiders will have to make each pick count more than ever. In the article Five Potential 3rd Round Picks a colleague, David Wilson, highlighted five players the Raiders may target in the 3rd round of this year's draft.
This article is the follow up to that piece and will examine five potential picks for the Raiders in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilber is an extremely instinctive player that does very well at shedding blocks and finding the ball carrier. Coming from the same system and program as Aaron Curry should go a long way to helping Wilber adjust to the NFL.
Not known as stout at setting the edge, and not a particularly great cover-backer, Wilber is effective when asked to blitz and is a more than adequate tackler in the open field. Ultimately, his natural instincts and desire to win on every down will serve him well at the NFL level.
With the starting linebacking corps already set, this young man would provide nice depth at the linebacker position for the Raiders and could be taken by Oakland at the end of the 4th round as a back up and developmental prospect.
If McKenzie is looking to replace the pass rushing ability from the linebacker spot vacated by Kamerion Wimbley, Massaquoi would be a nice choice. The Lawrenceville Georgia native has rare speed and suddenness for his size and is a great pass rusher as evidenced by his 19.5 sacks in just two seasons as a starter.
In run defense, Massaquoi's size makes him great at setting the edge and solid when engaging offensive linemen. His unusual agility for his size also helps him not miss one-on-one tackles on running backs in the open field.
Of course like all rookies, Massaquoi has a lot to learn. He often plays too high upon engagement with blockers and he sometimes plays recklessly and finds himself out of position with respect to the design of the play.
Having players like Curry and coaches like defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, (former linebacker coach for the 49ers) will go a long way to improving his weaknesses. Assuming he can learn and takes it seriously, Massaquoi could become a great Raider in a few years.
A versatile player like Kelemete will help the Raiders fill out the depth along the offensive line. He has started at both guard and tackle for the Washington Huskies and played each spot at a high level against good opposition.
His strong hands provide a great initial blow to defenders and Kelemete isn't satisfied with simply blocking the man in front of him. Game tape reveals a nasty streak and a strong desire to look for another defender to hit once his initial responsibility is on the ground and out of the play.
Kelemete's weaknesses are relatively few. He has a tendency to make initial contact, but then fails to remain engaged with defenders. His feet often stop moving while drive blocking and he loses the man he's trying to block.
Overall, Kelemete is a great zone blocking prospect; perfectly suited to the system offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and offensive line coach Frank Pollack will employ in Oakland in 2012. A season or two behind veterans like Cooper Carlisle and Mike Brisiel will help him tremendously. His ability to play guard or tackle will make him a valuable depth pick right away.
Perhaps the highest rated small school prospect in the draft, Norman comes with some great skill. Although his "measurables" at the combine were a bit suspect, he improved every one of those numbers at his pro-day in front of 27 pro scouts and coaches—including representatives from the Raiders.
His strengths include almost proto-typical body type with long arms and a narrow frame. Norman is constantly seen on tape fighting for the ball, going up for it at the highest point and winning more often than not.
Excelling in press-man coverage, Norman does a great job winning at the line by redirecting and disrupting the timing of routes. That said, he also does pretty well in zones and off-man coverage. He is essentially a very balanced cornerback.
Norman has played elite talent. He was expected to cover the Raiders' very own Jacoby Ford and surrendered just 4 catches for 49 yards and a TD to the Clemson standout. Honestly, there are Pro Bowlers, (Like Champ Baily) that couldn't do that well against Ford!
The weaknesses in Norman's game are minor when compared to his considerable strengths. He often plays a bit too high in his back pedal and gets himself into trouble on occasion trying to bait the quarterback into a throw. All of this can be coached.
Although the Raiders currently have seven cornerbacks on the roster, some of them like Bartell and Spencer have some injury concerns. This would make Norman an extremely wise pick up late in the 4th round.
Forston is known more for being an elite run-stuffer—something the Raiders need desperately. His size is almost perfect to play inside in the 4-3, but his unusual agility for his size could translate well to a 3-4 defensive end should the Raider eventually convert.
Not known as a pass rusher, Forston is extremely good at anchoring down against the run and soaking up double team blocks. Even when doubled, Forston always seems to find the ball carrier, push his man, (men) into the way of the back and clog the middle.
Sometimes he gets stood up at the line of scrimmage and fails to show the ability to shed blockers. Forston plays streaky and will often lose leverage due to playing too high. There are also questions about his work ethic which have caused him to fall down draft boards to this point.
That being said, practicing and playing with mentors like Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Aaron Curry will likely be all it takes for this young man to put in the work necessary to be great. If he can do this, his 2nd round physical talent will shine and Forston will be a great addition to the future of the defensive tackle position to go along with Desmond Bryant in years to come.
Obviously, the only thing that any prognosticator can be sure of when it comes to the new-look/"new era" Raiders is—the odds of any one being right about anything with respect to the moves the Raiders will make are astronomically high. There was no predicting what McKenzie has already done, and there is no predicting what will happen in the future.
This is just one "prognosticator's" best guess based upon the current roster and perceived team needs. Don't expect it to be totally accurate!
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