Grading the Draft: Oakland

After a devastating loss in the Super Bowl the Raiders entered the draft with a boatload of picks thanks in part to the coach who beat them in the big game. The franchise has needs at several areas and more than anything else, must start to replace aging veterans.

Round Pick Player Pos School
1 31(31) Nnamdi Asomugha S California
1 32(32) Tyler Brayton DE Colorado
2 31(63) Teyo Johnson* WR Stanford
3 19(83) Sam Williams OLB Fresno St.
3 32(96) Justin Fargas HB Southern Cal
4 32(129) Shurron Pierson* OLB South Florida
5 32(167) Doug Gabriel WR UCF
6 31(204) Dustin Rykert OT BYU
7 32(246) Siddeeq Shabazz S New Mex. St.
7 48(262) Ryan Hoag WR Gustavus Adolph

Oakland always finds a way to surprise on draft day and the organization kept that trend going with the final two picks of round one this year. Needing another pass defender, they took a stab at Cal's Nnamdi Asomugha, which shocked many. Asomugha is a solid defensive back with excellent cover skills. As a corner, he is best in press coverage; possibly the only system he could flourish in. As a safety, he combines cover talents with intellect. Our main criticism is Oakland's seemingly emphatic desire to list him as a corner. In Buchanon and Woodson, Oakland may soon have the best pair of pure cover corners in the league, yet there is still a gaping hole at free safety. One that Asomugha should eventually fill.

The next pick in that frame was a reach to our minds. Tyler Brayton is a player that has a good amount of upside potential, though it could take him a while to reach it. Brayton did not stand out at the Senior Bowl and we'd go as far as saying he may have not even been the best defensive lineman for Colorado in 2003. He offers hustle and growth potential but may be slow coming around.

Teyo Johnson at the end of round two was a solid pick. Johnson is very rough around the edges but his sheer size offers mismatches against opponents. He will have the chance to slowly develop as Oakland's pair of elder receivers end their career.  Along with Jerry Porter, the Raiders could have a terrific pass catching duo in the future.

In the middle rounds, the Raiders did a knockout job.

Some quip Sam Williams was taken early and carried a second day grade. Regardless, we like him as a player. Williams has terrific strong-side linebacker size and may eventually grow into a defensive end. He needs to refine his game but that will come in time. He has a lot of upside.

Justin Fargas was also a bargain in that same frame. Fargas fell after a great post-season as many were scared off by his surgically repaired leg. In fact some jokingly say Fargas can't get through metal detectors at the airport there is so much steel in his limb. Whatever the situation, if he stays healthy Fargas is a great running back to have carrying the ball in a rotational situation and can be effectively used as a receiver out of the backfield. Look for him to be used in goal line situations.

Fourth round pick, Shurron Pierson could be a diamond in the rough. An explosive athlete, Pierson's performance at the combine moved him from free agent status to the middle rounds. Where will he be used? We feel Pierson is too small for defensive end but can develop into a very productive linebacker.

After not running as fast as hoped in the post-season and having a very non-descript Senior Bowl, Doug Gabriel fell out of the first day and thus, was good value in round five. Gabriel is still developing as a wide out yet improved his overall game the past two seasons. Look for him to flash skills during his first season and eventually develop into a solid number three receiver.

Dustin Rykert is a hard working lineman but a limited blocker who lacks the top upside. Siddeeq Shabazz hits like a ton of bricks and plays an intelligent brand of football. He could make it as a back-up and special teams player.

Finally, with the last pick of the draft, Oakland made Ryan Hoag "Mr. Irrelevant." A sure handed receiver who showed well at the combine, Hoag could squeeze in as the team's fifth wide out, otherwise, he will land on someone else's roster.

Analysis: The focus on this draft is the pair of choices in round one, as both were surprising. That is too bad as Oakland chose value as well as prospects that are great developmental players from round two on.

 


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