2012 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Draft Recap
John Doublin – May 1, 2012
Headed into the 2012 NFL Draft, fans of the Oakland Raiders had no way to predict how general manager Reggie McKenzie would operate the annual re-infusion of NFL talent for the Raiders.
Some suggested McKenzie would stick with team needs only; some thought he was satisfied with the starters he had and would simply take the best player available. As it turns out, both theories were accurate.
McKenzie took the best player available at positions of need with the Raiders' first few picks, then added depth at positions most of Raider Nation wouldn't have expected. In all, it was a solid draft for the Raiders and will make the team much deeper and more competitive at every position.
3rd Round (compensatory): Dave Bergstrom-OT-Utah
It what came as a shock to most, (except David Wilson from Raider Nation Times) McKenzie selected offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom of the University of Utah. Although he played offensive tackle in college, "experts" feel that Bergstrom projects better inside at guard.
Although he has great strength and drive blocking ability, a lack of initial burst may cause the Raiders to move Bergstrom inside. He was fantastic when run blocking, but was susceptible to speed rushers and had a tendancy to over-anticipate the speed rush and then get beat with change of direction by quicker defensive ends.
Whether asked to compete at right tackle or guard, Bergstrom was a great pick for the Raiders because of his high motor, strong work ethic and versatility.
4th Round (compensatory): Miles Burris-LB-San Diego State
This pick may turn out to be the steal of the draft. On paper, Burris isn't the fastest, biggest or strongest linebacker in the draft, but he may very well be the most instinctive. On film, Burris is constantly around the ball and making plays. That's what the Raiders need more than anything—football players, not workout warriors.
Not known as a great cover guy, Burris plays extremely well against the run. He shows great reaction time and explosion to the ball carrier when the play happens in front of him. However, he does get lost in coverage from time to time, but with his reported work ethic and desire, that can be coached out of him.
Burris is good enough to push new Raider Philip Wheeler for playing time right away. His instincts suggest that he could even play inside if he can put on a few pounds, so Rolando McClain better be prepared to bring his "A-game" every day.
There is little doubt that Burris will contribute on special teams right away, but the sky is the limit for this former Aztec from San Diego.
5th Round: Jack Crawford-DE-Penn State
The selection of Crawford surprised some people, (including this writer). He's not overly athletic or imposing, but he looks the part with his long frame and body type. There is some upside, but most people don't know exactly how much.
There are things Crawford does well, like rushing the passer with speed and containing the edge. His lack of overall strength makes him a bit of a liability against the run. He does not create much push on the offensive tackle and doesn't shed blocks all that well.
Crawford is a developmental/project pick for the Raiders and will provide some depth at the defensive end position, but don't look for him to start any time soon.
5th Round (compensatory): Juron Criner-WR-Arizona
Criner was an intriguing pick by the Raiders. With all the great, young talent at the wide reciever position, it was a bit shocking to see McKenzie select a wide receiver. However, the value of this pick is extraordinary.
Criner was an all Pac-12 player and was projected by most to be taken in the early to late 3rd round, so getting a talent like this at the end of the 5th round was a great move by McKenzie. Criner's upside is great and he will likely develop into a great possession receiver in the future.
Criner is a big, physical receiver that catches the ball naturally with his hands. He won't run past anyone, but his ball skills are excellent and he's tough to bring down in the open field. His route running is solid, but he'll need to learn how to get off press coverage more regularly and how to come back for the ball more frequently at the top of his routes.
With the current players on the roster and the addition of Criner, new wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore will have plenty of talent to work with in 2012.
6th Round: Christo Bilukidi-DE-Georgia State
As the first ever player from Georgia State University to be drafted into the NFL, Bilukidi has the size to play at defensive tackle, but also possesses the speed to play outside at defensive end.
Not much is known about this young man originally from Angola, but he was a top prospect for the Canadian Football League because of his unique agility, speed, and acceleration for his size.
Coming from such a small school, Bilukidi has a lot to learn about the speed and power of the NFL game, but with his reputation for hard work and a strong will, the coaches are sure to get through to him eventually.
A developmental prospect, he may need a season or two on the practice squad, but Bilukidi has all the physical traits to be a solid player in the NFL someday.
7th Round (compensatory): Nathan Stupar-LB-Penn State
An extremely value-laden pick in the seventh round, Stupar comes from "Linebacker U" where he led the Nitnay Lions in total tackles in 2011. That's some serious production for a seventh round pick.
Stupar also has a nice little connection to the Raiders as his uncle is former Raiders' quarterback, Jeff Hostetler.
An outside linebacker in college, Stupar doesn't possess the speed to play outside in the NFL, but his body type and great instincts will allow him to be successful inside at the "Mike" position.
Inside linebacker depth was an area of need for the Raiders and Stupar was a great pick by McKenzie and the Raiders because he has all the intangibles you look for in an NFL player—heart, stamina, experience and a will to win.
Being limited to just six picks, (one acquired by trade) in the 2012 draft, the Raiders didn't make any headlines and the sports talk shows aren't saying much about them. However, when you consider the state of the team and the players already there, the players McKenzie and the Raiders selected fit the team perfectly.
In most cases, it takes several years for players in the third round and later to make an impact, but watch for guys like Bergstrom, Burris and Criner to make an instant impression in the NFL.
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