Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Would the Oakland Raiders take an offensive linemen with the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft if Star Lotulelei is already gone?
The 2013 NFL Draft is right around the corner, though it's going to feel like an eternity for the fans. Fortunately, the Scouting Combine is coming in late February and free agency opens in March, so there are things with which to occupy their time prior to the draft.
But the draft is, in fact, the main event. Many of the teams that struggled the most at the end of last season will consider the draft their primary means of improving. For the Oakland Raiders, that means a top-three pick, which of course means a chance to land one of the three best players in the nation.
In the latest SB Nation mock draft, Dan Kadar and Matthew Fairburn alternated picks, and after Star Lotulelei went to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2, they have the Raiders taking Luke Joeckel, an offensive tackle out of Texas A&M.
With Star Lotulelei off the board, the Raiders turn to another area of need; the offensive line. The running game struggled to get going at times last season, and Oakland needs to revamp the offensive line. Luke Joeckel is considered by some to be the best player in this draft, so this happens to be a value pick as well.
It's an interesting pick, given that most mock drafts around the Internet have sent defensive linemen to the Raiders. It's true that Lotulelei is considered the best in that vein this time around, but there do seem to be some other players that could make an impact for the Raiders on the D-line. They need more help up front than any other team in the league, it seems.
That being said, the offensive tackle route is a smart one. Their offense has been incredibly lacking and drives were often killed by running back Darren McFadden going nowhere or quarterback Carson Palmer getting sacked. Joeckel carries the "sure thing" label, which hasn't necessarily worked out for the Raiders in the past, though.