The Raiders will have a big hole to fill at cornerback if Nnamdi Asomugha isn't there anymore to take away half the field in the passing game. (Joe Robbins/Getty)
Prior to the 2009 campaign, the Raiders sent a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Patriots for defensive end Richard Seymour.
The move turned out to be a relatively good one for Oakland, as Seymour has continued to be one of the top players in the league at his position and made his sixth Pro Bowl appearance this past season after a four-year absence -- at 31 years old, no less. While the trade was especially risky when it went down because Seymour was at the time entering the final year of his contract, he got slapped with the franchise tag last February and will likely suffer the same fate this offseason. The former Georgia Bulldog is due in the neighborhood of $15 million for 2011 should that indeed happen.
However, now it's time to pay the fiddler, as the Silver and Black are the only franchise without a selection in Round 1 this April.
With the expert assistance of Brian Park from SilverAndBlack.com, here are a handful of prospects that could be on the radar at No. 48 overall in Round 2 for Al Davis -- even if trying to predicting what he's going to do is as futile as Lake Kiffin trying to cash his last check from 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway:
Texas CB Curtis Brown
Not only are the Raiders likely to say sayonara to Nnamdi Asomugha, perhaps the best cornerback in the game, after his contract voided and the franchise tag isn't an option going forward, but fellow corner Stanford Routt is also a free-agent-to-be -- at least one of them is expected to depart.
Brown (6-0, 180) fits the mold of a Raider since he has the one thing Davis has proven to be a sucker for in the draft time and time again: speed. Although there wasn't a corner at the Senior Bowl that truly stood out and gave the impression he was the cream of the available crop, Brown has as much potential as any one of them invited to Mobile and showed the kind of physical toughness and closing ability that makes Asomugha such an asset Sunday after Sunday. A bit of a late bloomer during his time in Austin, he can only get better and has a world of upside.
Even if he isn't able to grab hold of a starting job as a rookie, Brown was a tremendous special teamer at the collegiate level and will be able to assist Sebastian Janikowski on kickoffs and Shane Lechler on punts immediately.
Penn State C Stefen Wisniewski
Incumbent center Samson Satele was a second rounder himself of the Dolphins just four years ago, and while he did play better down the stretch in 2010, he may not be a long-term solution and there is virtually no depth behind him.
Possibly the top-rated center available in the draft, although that depends on Florida's Michael Pouncey and Florida State's Rodney Hudson both ultimately lining up at guard, Wisniewski (6-3, 306) was a four-year starter in Happy Valley and has experience at center and guard. He helped anchor a Nittany Lion offensive line that surrendered but 12 sacks in 2010 and was a first-team All-American. Not only did he make the most of his career playing for Joe Paterno on the field, but he was also on every All-Academic team imaginable and went above and beyond the call of duty from a community-service perspective off the field -- although, needless to say, the Raiders have never been the NFL's equivalent of the Boy Scouts.
On top of that, he is the nephew of offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski, who started 206 of 208 possible games for Los Angeles/Oakland from 1989-2003.
Tennessee TE Luke Stocker
There is only one franchise designation available for the front office to employ, so if it's placed on Seymour for the second year in a row, that means tight end Zach Miller may hit free agency.
But even if Miller -- he led the Raiders in receptions (60), yards receiving (685) and receiving touchdowns (five) in 2010 -- does return, and initial indications suggest he will, a secondary tight end that can help block in the running game and also provide another target in the passing game makes sense. Stocker (6-5, 255) caught everything thrown his direction during Senior Bowl workouts and is more than big enough to move some people around as a blocker, too. If Oakland wants to get the most out of Darren McFadden on the ground and open up the deep ball for first-round bust Darrius Heyward-Bey, the pairing of Miller and Stocker underneath would be great place to start.
According to Park, Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph is all but guaranteed to make an impact immediately, but chances are he won't be around at No. 48 overall.
|John Crist is an NFL Analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.|