Without a first round pick, the Oakland Raiders still managed to make out of the 2011 NFL Draft with a player many considered to be worth taking in the first thirty-two, when they made Stefen Wisniewski out of Penn State the 48th overall pick. He's not a sexy pick, and could be considered a bit of a reach if taken in the first round, solely due to the other players available at that point, but he is definitely the safe pick and almost unanimously accepted as a sure-fire starter and potential Pro Bowler.
In the other stream, we took a look at Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and his battle to earn a starting job. Wisniewski's journey to the starting rotation is considerably easier, with a caveat or two. For instance, last season's starting center, Samson Satele, grew into the role and looked very good there at his best, and inconsistent at his worst. If he's to stick around in Oakland, one has to feel like he'll stay in the middle of the line.
That doesn't disqualify Wisniewski from a starting role, considering he's projected to excel at any position along the interior. At that point, he'd likely be guaranteed a starting role opposite Robert Gallery, that is ... if Gallery is even back. Much like Satele, he could be on his way out the door, which definitely doesn't bode well for the Raiders and their hopefully productive rushing attack in 2011.
Either way, if there's any certainty, outside of some big issues that almost everybody failed to notice prior to the draft, it's that Wisniewski will find a starting role for day one along the interior of the line. Most likely, he'll be at center, as the team tries to keep Gallery locked down at a guard position. He's virtually made the jump to starter just with his talent alone, now he's got to perform.