You never want to be without a first-round pick in any NFL Draft, especially when you finished with a .500 record the previous year, but the Oakland Raiders are not without options in the draft. They can come out of it very well in fact, especially if they lean on their 2009 propensity to draft smart. Their biggest needs are on the offensive line and potentially at the cornerback position, things we've already covered this far.
Fortunately, the draft is deep at almost every position, I really only see lacking production out of this crop of safeties and tight ends, while interior linemen, cornerbacks and project quarterbacks dot the mid-rounds like a minefield. The biggest question mark for Oakland is cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is now a free agent and might be out the door. Thirty-one other teams are now interested in Asomugha's services, and he is almost certain to break the bank. That isn't to say that the Raiders are not an option at all, but it's going to be hard at this point.
With his absence, cornerback is automatically the biggest need for the Raiders. Obviously, when you lose someone of Asomugha's prowess, you would love to be able to get the Patrick Peterson's and Prince Amukamara's of the draft, but without a top fifteen pick, they'll be unable to secure such a scenario. Instead, they will have to settle for the second tier of cornerbacks, but what does that mean? Is it a bad sign for them, a consolation prize?
Not at all, as I said months ago, this draft is largely deep at the position. There are starting caliber corners throughout the top three rounds, and the Raiders could be in excellent position to grab a guy they want. That's the beauty of a draft deep with talent everywhere. When someone like Brandon Harris out of Miami has a chance of being there at the 16th pick in the second round, you know it's a deep draft.
Still, he will probably be gone, but I'd wager that the Raiders will land one of Aaron Williams of Texas, Ras-I Dowling of Virgina or Curtis Brown of Texas, if they are going for a corner. It certainly would be the safe option with the uncertainty of free agency. Ras-I Dowling is intriguing because he's got that speed that Al Davis loves (4.40 40), and would immediately be a starter in the Raiders secondary. If he's the guy that Oakland walks away with, they will have done very well for themselves, especially without a first round pick.
Guard, center and tackle can all be addressed at the position as well. Someone like Mike Pouncey can fall, and the Raiders would literally dive on that opportunity. Marcus Cannon of TCU might be available as well, and has even been mocked as going to the Raiders several times from what I've read. Oakland will get a starter in the second round, rest assured.