By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 10:20 am in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders hold the rights to the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Here is a list of 10 potential players the Raiders might target with their first-round pick:
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia – Incumbent starter Carson Palmer will be 34 next season and third-year player Terrelle Pryor hasn’t played enough to give the Raiders a firm idea on whether he is a long-term option. It’s also conceivable that the Raiders will cut or trade Palmer before the draft and turn over the reins to a young quarterback. Smith passed for 42 touchdowns last season, while being intercepted only six times. He is considered the most likely of all the quarterbacks to be taken in the first round.
OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M – He dominated some of the game’s top pass rushers in 2012. He is an outstanding run blocker, though he still needs work on his pass protection. If Joeckel makes it past the first two picks, the Raiders will be tempted to select him and begin the process of fortifying their offensive line.
LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia – His play is likened to that of Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller. Jones recorded 14 ½ sacks in 2012 and played some of his best football against highly ranked opponents. There are those that question Jones’ work ethic and commitment in the weight room.
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah – He has it all, according to everyone that watches him play: size, power, speed, strength and explosiveness. He played well against top-tier competition and placed himself in contention for a top-10 pick. This is the kind of player the Raiders need in light of Richard Seymour’s departure and the lack of an imposing figure in the middle of the line.
DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State – He plays fast, is relentless and oftentimes draws double-teams. The Raiders lacked an imposing pass rusher since Derrick Burgess left several years ago. Werner’s skill set is precisely what the Raiders are looking for right now.
G Chance Warmack, Alabama – Regarded by some as the best guard prospect in a long time. He validated the praise with a great showing in the national championship game. He figures to be an immediate starter in the NFL and he could take over for aging left guard Cooper Carlisle.
DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M – He recorded 12 ½ sacks in 2012 and thrust himself into the discussion about potential top-10 picks. Also, don’t rule out the fact Moore played at the same college as Raiders coach Dennis Allen. So, Allen won’t have any difficulty getting an air-tight scouting report on Moore.
LB Barkevious Mingo, Louisiana State – By some accounts, Mingo had a disappointing 2012 season. Still, there are those that view Mingo as a very productive outside linebacker, especially in a 3-4 scheme. He has superior speed and the kind of body that can handle substantial weight gain if a team views him as a defensive end.
OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan – His stock soared after a great showing in practice the week of the Senior Bowl, as well as in that game. He dominated the competition at his level and is experienced at both tackle spots. He’s someone that Raiders no doubt will consider if Joeckel is gone within the first two picks.
LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame – The Raiders are very high on Te’o, though they are like most teams now in trying to gauge how much to factor in Te’o’s fake girlfriend story and his horrendous showing in the national title game against Alabama. Te’o is a tremendous leader, instinctive player and very solid against the run and pass – he had seven interceptions in 2012.
Here are the five positions of need for the Raiders as they approach the NFL draft:
Offensive tackle – Khalif Barnes is eligible for free agency, and the Raiders aren’t sure if second-year player Tony Bergstrom is a long-term solution at right offensive tackle.
Defensive tackle – Richard Seymour is gone. Tommy Kelly might be a salary-cap casualty. Regardless, the Raiders need big-time help in the middle of their defensive line.
Defensive end – The Raiders are in sore need of a reliable pass-rusher off the edge. There aren’t any promising candidates on the roster.
Cornerback – It’s likely that the starting cornerbacks for the Raiders next season aren’t even on the roster yet. This position has to be addressed.
Wide receiver – The Raiders still don’t have a No. 1 receiver. It’s also possible that Darrius Heyward-Bey won’t be back next season unless he accepts a massive pay cut.