The Raiders gave up their first round pick in the 2012 NFL draft in the trade that brought Carson Palmer to Oakland. Now that the first round of the draft has played out, we can look at who the Raiders would have taken had they not traded away their pick. The Cincinnati Bengals used the pick to get corner back Dre Kirkpatrick, but I do not think that is the way the Raiders should have gone.
There were two players on the board who are both high quality players and would fill key needs for the Raiders. The first player I would have chosen was David DeCastro, an offensive guard out of Stanford. DeCastro is one of the best offensive linemen in this year's draft and could develop into one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. The second is outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama. Upshaw is a solid all around football player. He is strong in pass rush and more than holds his own in run defense.
Let's assume I am as good at this as Reggie McKenzie and that he would have taken one of the two players I discussed above. Let's also assume that had the Raiders not traded for Palmer, they would have re-signed Jason Campbell. Given these assumptions, I present to you:
Carson Palmer vs. The Pick No. 17 Options
Carson Palmer vs. David DeCastro
While I think David DeCastro is a great player who would have been an obvious choice for the Raiders at number 17, I do not think he would have as big of an impact on the Raiders as Carson Palmer does. Cooper Carlisle is on the downside of his career, but he had a decent 2011 season, and he played very well in Tom Cable's zone blocking system. WIth the Raiders moving back to zone blocking, Carlisle is a decent starter at the guard position. Meanwhile, Palmer provides a big play ability that even under poor circumstances last season was clearly better than Jason Campbell ever provided.
Carson Palmer vs. Courtney Upshaw
This is a much closer competition. Upshaw would be a big upgrade to the Raiders weakest position at outside linebacker. In addition, Upshaw would have been an instant upgrade to the Raiders pass rush, and makeup for much of what was lost this off season with the departures of pass rushers Trevor Scott and Kamerion Wimbley. On top of his pass rushing abilities, he is a solid run defender and the Raiders can use as many of those as possible.