The guys over at profootballtalk.com have posted their list of team needs for the Oakland Raiders heading into the NFL draft. Pro Football Talk has become known as a great go to source for breaking news regarding anything related to the NFL. They often have news up on their site before anyone else, including ESPN.
However, while they are a great source for breaking NFL news, I sometimes question their analysis. The list of team needs that Pro Football Talk believes the Raiders need to address heading into the NFL draft are as follows: offensive line, tight end, quarterback and linebacker. While they do not state as much, it would appear as though they listed the positions based on what is of the most need to the Raiders at this point. Needless to say, I am in disagreement with some of their analysis.
Offensive Line - It is most certainly true that the Raiders could use some upgrades along the offensive line, however, this is no where near the position of the biggest need for the Raiders. Left tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefan Wisniewski are both young studs and are playing very well. Newly acquired guard Mike Brisiel is a big upgrade and a great fit for the zone blocking scheme the Raiders are going to implement. Cooper Carlisle is on the back side of his career, but he excels in the zone blocking scheme, so I expect him to play better next season than he has the past two years. Finally, the right tackle position is in need of an upgrade as Khalif Barnes is not good enough to be a starter. But, with that being said, there are still other team needs that are far more important, such as linebacker and defensive line.
Tight End - I understand why this is listed as a position of need for the Raiders considering the departure of Kevin Boss. However, it is by no means one of the bigger positions of need. The Raiders have a solid blocking tight end in Brandon Meyers, and really like what they have seen in David Ausberry. While PFT notes that Ausberry is a seventh round pick, they fail to mention that he is a converted college wide receiver who creates the kind of mismatches they claim are needed for the Raiders. They also fail to mention that he showed promise to be a very good tight end last pre season.
Quarterback - Once again, PFT is right in that the Raiders need to sign a quarterback. They are wrong, however, in implying that it would be a quarterback to replace Carson Palmer. Far too much is being made about Palmer's mobility. While Knapp does run an offense that includes things like bootlegs, it's not an offense that requires a superb athlete. While Palmer will never be a threat to scramble for huge yards, that is not what Knapp will be asking of him. The mobility that people keep referring to in Knapp's offense is rather limited. Palmer is a professional athlete and is perfectly capable of rolling out of the pocket to one side of the field or the other. No, he is not going to out run many defensive lineman, but bootlegs are designed to fool defensive lineman into going the other direction, so, if performed well by the offensive line, Palmer will not need to do much more than run ten yards to one side. Does PFT honestly want me to believe that Palmer is incapable of running ten yards?
Linebacker - Finally, they got it right, too bad its the last position they list as being one of need, and the one which they provide the least feedback on. The Raiders have their three starters, but are VERY thin beyond that point. Travis Goethal has shown that he has the ability to be an NFL linebacker if he can stay healthy. Unfortunately for him, and the Raiders, he cannot stay healthy. Besides Goethal, the Raiders do not have a back up linebacker worth noting. If they want to run plays with a 3-4 base defense, this is a position that MUST be upgraded before they an do it. Even if they just run a 4-3, they will need upgrades to the linebacking corps.