Oakland Raiders Training Camp Preview: Draft Pick Expectations

The Oakland Raiders did not have many opportunities to upgrade their roster during the off season. While salary cap issues hindered general manager Reggie McKenzie in the free agent market, prior trades that left the Raiders with no first or second round draft picks hindered him during the 2012 NFL draft. The Raiders did not have their first pick until the 3rd round, only had six picks in all and two of those picks were 6th round or later. With those picks, the Raiders took:

3rd - Tony Bergstrom, OG

4th - Miles Burris, OLB

5th - Jack Crawford, DE

5th - Juron Criner, WR

6th - Christo Bilukidi, DT

7th - Nathan Stupar, OLB

Despite the odds against him, McKenzie did fairly well with what he had. Of the six picks, five are very likely to make the roster, three have the potential to have an impact in their rookie season and two could push for a starting role, three if you consider the slot receiver position to be a starting position.

Tony Bergstrom and Miles Burris will push for starting roles if for no other reason than those are two of the weaker positions on the Raiders. While the left guard position is solid with Mike Brisiel, right guard is a position of need for the Raiders with Cooper Carlisle being the favorite to be the starter. Bergstrom played tackle in college but is too small to play tackle in the NFL. He is athletic and would be a good fit in the Raiders zone blocking scheme.

At outside linebacker, the Raiders have Aaron Curry and Philip Weaver, both of whom have deficiencies in their game and are not guaranteed a starting role. Burris is a little small at 6'2 236, but makes up for that with a high motor as well as very good vision and instinct. He will likely start the season as a back up, but will see the field and if he adapts to the NFL game quickly he could push to unseat a starter mid season.

There are really only two starting wide receiver positions, but with the specialization of athletes, the slot receiver position has become almost a mini starting position. While Juron Criner will not likely earn one of the starting wide receiver positions, he could wind up being the Raiders go to slot receiver, especially on third down and around the goal line. Most of the Raiders receivers are speed guys who can stretch the field while Criner is the exact opposite. He does not have good speed but runs good routes, has great hands and at 6'3, 221lbs, Criner's big body will be an asset that Carson Palmer will like to take advantage of.

The Raiders 6th round pick is a project who will likely wind up on the practice squad. Bilukidi was a basketball star who did not start playing football until his senior year of high school. However, he showed a lot of promise in college and could develop into a solid player. The Raiders' 7th round pick, Nathan Stupar, has a good shot at making the team solely due to his special teams abilities. The Raiders lost their special teams captain to the San Francisco 49ers this off season in Rock Cartwright. They also lost a strong special teams contributed in Hiram Eugene. Stupar was picked primarily to fulfill the lack of quality special teams players and should be able to make the roster.

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