The biggest thing to note about the Oakland Raiders draft is the fact that they didn't have a first round pick. As such, folks need to take that into account when making a grade for the team. You can't just look at the names drafted and say, for the lack of star power, that it was a bad haul, you have to grade on something not entirely unlike a curve. For instance, if you eliminate all of the first rounders from the teams that had them, how does the Oakland draft look in comparison? Let's list the picks and then we'll get to the official SB Nation Bay Area grade.
Oakland Raiders 2011 NFL Draft Selections
Round 2: Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn St. (48th overall)
Round 3: Demarcus Van Dyke, DB, Miami (81st overall)
Round 3: Joseph Barksdale, OL, LSU (92nd overall)
Round 4: Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio St. (113th overall)
Round 4: Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington (125th overall)
Round 5: Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee (148th overall)
Round 6: Richard Gordon, TE, Miami (181st overall)
Round 7: David Aubsberry, WR, USC (241st overall)
Well, when you do happen to set out to grade this haul on a curve, it's still a little underwhelming. Wisniewski is a very solid pick who will contribute from day one, likely as the team's starting center in lieu of Samson Satele, who will likely be leaving in free agency. He's got good value and fills a big need, so there's plenty of points there. The biggest problem with the draft is Oakland's propensity to draft guys based on speed and athleticism and not much else. It's not that Demarcus Van Dyke is a bad pick, it's just the fact that he was a backup at Miami and there were still multiple corners on the board who project as better players in the NFL. It makes even less sense when you see that the best corners in the NFL today aren't guys that are burners on the back-end, including Oakland's own Nnamdi Asomugha, who could be departing the team in free agency before the 2011 season.
In fact, Chimdi Chekwa in the fourth round is the perfect example of what the Raiders should be doing with their draft picks. He's a corner with good speed and athleticism who actually makes plays and has a lot of upside, much more than Van Dyke, who was picked almost exclusively for the fact that he ran a 4.28 40-yard dash. Their late round selections don't project to do much, but Richard Gordon out of Miami could use his athleticism to become a reliable target in the NFL, but he wasn't thrown to a lot in college. With Zach Miller potentially leaving for free agency, one would think the team might address the position earlier on.
For positives, Taiwan Jones is a vintage Raider pick, but one that has a ton of upside and has what you'd call "boom" potential. In the fourth round, you're looking at solid value for a guy who brings a different dynamic to any offense with limited bust factor. Joseph Barksdale is also a very strong pick in the third round, and adds to an Oakland offensive line that could take a big hit in free agency. At least they know how to draft those linemen, or at least they appear to. It's a case of "smart pick, not-so-smart pick, smart pick, not-so-smart pick."
Value: D+, Need: B, Overall: C