Reviewing the draft: Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders entered the 2004 NFL draft with the second overall pick and a rapidly aging team. Help along both lines and offensive skill positions were critical needs. After being linked to several top prospects the Raiders settled on a conservative approach which was unusual for Al Davis.

Oakland began their draft selecting Robert Gallery, hardly a surprise to anyone. Gallery is a prototypical left tackle that has the attitude perfectly suited for this franchise.  As the Raiders develop a new generation of young offensive stars Gallery should man the left tackle position for a decade.  Continuing to build along the offensive line Oakland selected Jake Grove in the second frame.  Grove was widely regarded as the drafts best center and though not a blocker with great range or athleticism, he is an efficient pivot man that plays with good leverage and consistently opens holes for runners.  He also has potential at guard.  Stuart Schweigart gives the Raiders a young physical defensive back that could grow into a free safety in time.  A hard-hitting presence in the secondary, Schweigart needs to refine his game and work hard at learning not only the Raiders defense but the opponents offense.  Should the mental side of his game match the physical physical skills he already possesses, Schweigart will start for the team down the road.  Oakland used their next two selections to get younger and faster at receiver.  Carlos Francis has the speed that Al Davis covets and with some polishing he could develop into an game breaking receiver.  Johnnie Morant, meanwhile, has prototype size and speed but does not learn quickly and has the reputation of being a lazy player.  Should he apply himself Morant could have a long and prosperous career as an Oakland Raider. Shawn Johnson gives the Raiders another young defensive end with nice size/speed numbers.  He is a candidate for the  practice squad but could ultimately be placed on injured reserve as shoulder surgery may keep him out of action until the summer. Cody Spencer is a physical inside linebacker that does not have the great playing speed or range needed to excel in pass defense.  Spencer does have an attitude on the field which helps. Courtney Anderson is a big bodied athletic tight end that could develop in the future if given time.  While he excels in the passing game he is only a marginal blocker.  With several good young tight ends already on their roster, Oakland can afford to bring Anderson along slowly.  Andre Sommersell may have a shot at making the roster with a solid preseason but is most likely to be on a practice squad come September.  The college defensive end projects to linebacker and offers potential on special teams.

Overall the Raiders did a nice job using this draft as a building block for the future.  Gallery and Grove should give the team a foundation on the offensive line for years to come while the rest of their picks are solid developmental players.  Stuart Schweigart will make the most immediate impact of the other selections and could develop into a starter for the team in a year or two.  Should the Raiders be able to answer questions at quarterback and running back they could again find themselves in contention for a playoff spot.

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