Raiders have holes to patch

The Raiders addressed some of their most glaring needs with the recent signings of safety Gibril Wilson, wide receiver Javon Walker and offensive tackle Kwame Harris but they still have more holes to patch in the coming weeks.

Gibril Wilson, a starter the past four seasons for the New York Giants, is all but certain to replace Stuart Schweigert in Oakland's starting lineup while Walker will fill the void left by the departure of Jerry Porter. Harris will likely get the nod at either of Oakland's two vacant tackle slots but the team has yet to decide which side they'll use him on.

Coupled with the team's ability to re-sign running back Justin Fargas and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly, along with the decision to franchise cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders avoided heading into the draft with a laundry list of positions to fill.

They do, however, have work to do. Here's a quick analysis, in no particular order, of the other holes Oakland needs fill:

* Offensive tackle: The decision to part ways with left tackle Barry Sims was somewhat surprising only because he had been at the position for so long and because it left the team without either of its starting tackles from 2007 since right tackle Cornell Green is a free agent. Harris will slide into one of the vacated slots but that leaves one more position open. Mario Henderson, a third-round draft pick last year, is on the roster but didn't play a single down as a rookie.

* Center: Jeremy Newberry held up rather well despite playing on creaky knees that have had numerous surgeries. Newberry is a free agent and the team hasn't decided whether to re-sign him. If they don't, the Raiders will be looking to pick up some help. Jake Grove isn't the long-term answer and Chris Morris is still an unknown at this level.

* Defensive end: Kelly is expected to slide inside to replace the retired Warren Sapp at the three-technique spot, meaning Kelly's right end position is open. Chris Clemons would have been the obvious choice but he signed with Philadelphia. Tyler Brayton is also gone, giving Oakland one less option. For now, the job will fall to second-year player Jay Richardson, who excelled at times and struggled at others.

* Wide receiver: Walker is on the back side of his career and has a history of injuries while Ronald Curry is coming off a tough year in which he led all Oakland receivers in drops. Porter was never a big-play receiver so the Raiders won't miss him much but they do need to add at least one or two more receivers to be secure. While the rumors about a possible trade for Cincinnati's Chad Johnson have quieted down, don't be surprised if Al Davis pulls a trick out of his hat on draft day to acquire Ocho Cinco. * Back-up quarterback: Daunte Culpepper isn't coming back and Josh McCown is in Miami now, leaving only Andrew Walter to work behind starter JaMarcus Russell. Walter, remember, was on the trading block for most of 2007 and would have been gone had Culpepper and McCown managed to stay healthy. The Raiders need to bring a veteran quarterback in to help continue Russell's learning curve and help the youngster out, much like Culpepper did last season.


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