Raiders mulling over draft picks

With the draft less than two weeks away, it's still anybody's guess as to what the Raiders intentions are with the plethora of picks they've accumulated. Will they combine some of their picks to move up in the early rounds or will they stand pat and stockpile players for the future? One thing for sure is that this year's draft could be one of the most pivotal in franchise history.

With a veteran-laden team, the Raiders don't need to draft players with the intent on playing them right away. Most of the holes the team had were patched through free agency, putting less emphasis on this season and more on the future.

That plays right into the hands of owner Al Davis, who has long been a believer of drafting the best available player rather than drafting to fill a need, a pattern many NFL teams have adopted as their own in recent years. And with a team where the majority of star players are nearing the end of their careers, drafting for the future might not be such a bad move.

''If you draft for help right away I think you're making a mistake,'' said Davis, speaking on the day the Raiders hired Bill Callahan to replace Gruden. ''Once in a while it comes right away. Charles Woodson, there's no question that he's a truly great player. Our defense suffered last year because he couldn't practice during the week. Unfortunately Darrell Russell was a truly great player, but you can't foresee something like that, what did happen (with Russell's pending rape charge), which is a very said situation.

''So this game is a funny game today. You've got to be alert. You've got to be on top of it and hope that you don't make mistakes or that the other guy makes more mistakes than you do.''

All eyes will definitely be on the Raiders when they make their first selection with the No. 21 overall pick, one of the two selections claimed in the Gruden trade. While there has been speculation Oakland might want to package both of their first-round picks (the other is at No. 23) in order to move up to a slot in the top 10, there has been nothing done as of yet. In addition to their two first-round picks, Oakland also owns a pair of second-rounders, Nos. 53 and 55 overall. From there, the Raiders will make the 89th overall pick in the third round before making one selection each in rounds 4-7.

Predictably, the team is not tipping its hand but there are confirmed reports Oakland has at least listened to an offer from the Detroit Lions about potentially moving up.


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