With ‘Cupboard Bare,' Raiders' Roster Needs Are Plenty

Early draft projections have Oakland all over the map, taking a quarterback, linebacker, defensive linemen and cornerback

With the third pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders will select … quarterback Geno Smith of West Virginia.

Well, that’s one prediction in one mock draft this week by former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt on NFL.com.

But with a long time to go until the first pick of the three-day draft is announced on April 25, nothing is written in ink, let alone stone. And, there’s every possibility the Raiders could trade the pick away to gain other selections, such as a second-round pick (which the team gave up in 2011 to acquire quarterback Carson Palmer from the Bengals).

The only thing certain for the Raiders is that they need a large infusion of new talent after going 4-12 this past season and missing the playoffs yet again.

As former Raiders coach John Madden told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle this week, first-year head coach Dennis Allen had very little chance for success in 2012 because the talent level on the roster was thin.

“He was playing the game without a full deck,” Madden said. “To be honest, they don’t have enough players. The cupboard was pretty bare. It would have been tough to do much more than what they did.

“If he’s going to do well, they gotta get a lot more. Some teams need a quarterback or a running back or a pass rusher. … The Raiders need a whole barrel of guys.”

Which, of course, makes looking at the mock drafts in January an interesting exercise, because the pro football observers who make their projections can pick prospects at a number of positions and fill an Oakland need.

This week, of the six mock drafts posted on NFL.com, the Raiders are projected to take:

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones (who picked up two votes); Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei; West Virginia’s Smith; LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo; and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.

Each of those spots – with the exception of Smith at quarterback – fills an obvious need now, and Smith (projected by some to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft) would fill a future need if Palmer sticks around for the 2013 season.

General manager Reggie McKenzie faces a busy offseason of trying to re-energize the roster with young talent. If he were to trade the No. 3 overall pick for a lower No. 1 and additional picks, it might serve his interests better – if he doesn’t see a sure-fire, high-impact pick he loves at No. 3.

Additionally, ESPN.com’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson speculated Wednesday that new Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly might have interest in Raiders backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor. 

Kelly, who ran a fast-paced spread offense at the University of Oregon – one in which a mobile, option QB such as Pryor would be a good fit --  reportedly tried to recruit Pryor to the Ducks as a high school senior. Mobile QB Michael Vick already is on the Eagles roster, of course, but Williamson wrote that already some in Philadelphia are suggesting Kelly might want to go after Pryor – and that Oakland (without second- and fifth-round picks) might be willing to listen to a deal for him.

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