I have got to admit, predicting this year's Raiders picks are much more difficult than previous years for a couple of reasons. First, the Raiders do not have any picks in the first two rounds. Coincidentally, those are the rounds where one is able to find the most information about prospects. The draft consists of over 250 picks, and the majority of information readily available is centered on players that are expected to be taken in the first two rounds.
In addition to the relatively thin information available about the potential picks, there is also the Al Davis factor. Before this year, predicting Raiders picks was relatively easy. The first step was always to rule out the skill position players who ran a 40 time that was slower than 4.5 seconds. That alone cut down the available picks by a large amount. In addition to speed, Davis also loved work out warriors. Combine stars were always a favorite of Al Davis' and much like great speed, he could rarely pass up an athletic freak.
With Reggie McKenzie, we have no history to go on. While he was clearly involved with the Green Bay Packers' drafts while he worked there, he was not the one making the final decision, so we do not know where he stood on every pick. There is, however, some evidence of what McKenzie's thought process might be. We know from his interviews that he is in favor of taking the best player available, rather than drafting to need. We know from how he handled the free agent period that he is practical, going for the solid player at a good price. We also know that his experience with a solid drafting team like the Packers means he knows his way around a draft room.
Thus, with those factors in mind, this mock draft is a combination of what I think the Raiders should do with each pick, with a little bit of Reggie McKenzie hypothesizing mixed in. Without further ado, I present my 2012 Oakland Raiders Mock Draft:
3rd Round, Pick No. 95: Josh Chapman
With the 95th pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Josh Chapman, defensive tackle, Alabama. To me, this seems like a Reggie McKenzie type of pick. Green Bay has always been able to find talent late, and one of the ways to do that is by getting a talent with injury or character concerns. Chapman is a talent that likely would go much higher but for injury concerns.
4th Round, Pick No. 129: Emmanuel Acho
With the 129th pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Emmanuel Acho, linebacker, University of Texas. Acho is a real solid player who could be a sleeper in this year's draft. He is a versatile linebacker who can play at a number of positions in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses.
5th Round, Pick No. 148: Chris Greenwood
With the 148th pick of the NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Chris Greenwood, corner back, Albion. Greenwood is a very talented athlete that is a little raw in his football skills. I know, sounds like an Al Davis pick, right? Well, the fact that McKenzie brought Greenwood in, tells me he might see a guy that can learn to be a football player and not just an athlete. Greenwood may very well be gone by this point in the draft, but if he is there, he could be a good pick up for the Raiders.
5th Round, Pick No. 168: Senio Kelemete
With the 168th pick of the NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Senio Kelemete, tackle, University of Washington. Kelemete is a very athletic offensive lineman who excels at blocking in the run game and has shown improvement in his pass blocking. He would be a good fit in the zone blocking scheme, and even though he is more likely to play guard at the next level, his experience at tackle means he can provide depth at both positions as he attempts to learn and compete for a starting role.
6th Round, Pick No. 189: Tim Fugger
With the 189th pick of the NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select Tim Fugger, defensive end, Vanderbilt. Fugger is a guy that can come in and contribute right away in special teams. He is a pass rusher that can play at defensive end as well as be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
And with that, you have the 2012 Oakland Raiders draft class. The thing that stands out most about my board is the fact that it is dominated by defensive players. I really think the Raiders are going to take a lot of defensive guys this year. I was tempted to take a big bodied receiver or running back at times, but I would expect the Raiders to take primarily defensive front seven guys and offensive linemen with their limited picks.