The Raiders completed day three of the 2011 NFL draft by selecting Chimdi Chekwa, Taiwan Jones, Denarius Moore, Richard Gordon and David Ausberry to add to the selections of Stefen Wisniewski, Demarcus Van Dyke and Joseph Barksdale yesterday.
With the selections on day three, the Raiders finished plugging at least three team needs and added depth a wide receiver. Al Davis doesn’t hide his affection for speed and in this, his 39th year as managing general partner, he again selected multiple players who ran the 40-yard-dash in under 4.4 seconds.
Now that the draft is complete and since the NFL is enduring a lockout, we have time to properly analyze the Raiders draft picks. Who are these players and what are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they fit on the team in 2011?
Stefen Wisniewski is the safest pick the Raiders could have made in the second round. Most if not all the top-tier talent had been selected and he’ll be an instant starter at center and should play for a decade. The fans will love this one also, because Stefen is the nephew of former Raiders all-pro guard guard and current assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski.
Strengths: Smart, technically sound, knows how to use his hands and plays with a good base most of the time. Natural bender, bends at the knees. Agile and has good footwork. Fires off the snap quickly. Whistle-to-whistle player that is successful because he never gives up on a play.
Weaknesses: Average overall strength and may struggle with big nose tackles. Sometimes overextends and gets off-balance. Frame maxed out, can’t carry much more weight.
Overall: Wisniewski is a very high floor player that doesn’t need a lot of time to develop to help the Raiders. He’s durable and the Raiders have been looking for a center since Barrett Robins hailed a cab to Tijuana just before Super Bowl XXXVII. He’s a natural leader and should be an instant starter and upgrade over Samson Satele.
The simple fact that Al Davis drafted Demarcus Van Dyke should not define the Raiders 2011 draft class. He’s one player and he does have potential.
Al Davis drafted Van Dyke in the third round, which is why analysts will not like the selection. The experts believed Van Dyke was a fifth or sixth-round prospect and very much a project. He’s a thinly-built burner and needs work on his technique to make use of his speed.
Thankfully, the Raiders have Kevin Ross, Rod Woodson and Willie Brown as coaches and mentors for the young corner project.
Strengths: Solid ball skills, length and speed, fluid hips, reads and reacts to what he sees quickly.
Weaknesses: Needs help with his footwork to maintain his speed when he turns and runs, needs to add ten pounds to his frame, will not be a great jammer without adding bulk and strength.
Overall: He has the physical skills to be a good corner in the NFL, but he’ll have to add bulk and work on his footwork. He will contribute on special teams and his best chance to get on the field on defense is probably in the dime or nickel package. He’s a faster version of Walter McFadden.
The Raiders needed help on the offensive line and they chose Joseph Barksdale over other quality options on the board. He’s an athlete that hasn’t played consistently well. He became an offensive lineman in college after being recruited as a defensive tackle. He was a five star recruit out of high school and some people believed he was the next Haloti Ngata. He projects to right tackle, but may have a home at guard as well.
Strengths: Athletic and strong. Can slide and move his feet. Long arms. Can be nasty is a solid run blocker. Agile for a man his size and carries his weight well.
Weaknesses: Bends at the waist too much and can get himself caught out of position. Inconsistent. Not an elite athlete, probably can’t play left tackle in the pros.
Overall: The Raiders see a ton of potential in Barksdale and if he can become more consistent and focus on his craft he has a very good chance to start at right tackle for the Raiders as a rookie. Having Steve Wisniewski and his nephew around could help him as he’s only been playing offensive line for four years. He could be a gem of a right tackle in time.
As the clearest sign that Nnamdi Asomugha will not be a Raider in 2011, the Raiders drafted another corner in Chimdi Chekwa. Chekwa is a raw prospect, but he has the size and he is athletic enough to become a starting corner in the NFL.
Strengths: Long arms and strong. Fast enough to keep up with NFL receivers. Solid ball skills. Willing tackler.
Weaknesses: Needs a lot of help with his technique. He loses speed transitioning from his backpedal. Hips are tight and most of his agility comes from his legs. Needs to become more compact and controlled. Doesn’t play very instinctively and needs to trust what he sees.
Overall: I don’t see him pushing for starting time this season, but time spent with the coaching staff could turn him into something special down the line. If his feet and hips don’t develop quickly could be moved to safety and find a home there. Could end up being better than Van Dyke.
Taiwan Jones missed his visit with the Raiders, but the Raiders watched his tape and ran his pro day workouts. Of course the Raiders were dazzled with Jones, he has 4.3 speed and showed an ability in college to score from anywhere on the field. He’s a physical freak and has been compared to Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Reggie Bush.
Strengths: Elite speed, obviously. Good agility and doesn’t shy away from contact. Good vision and acceleration. Not many miles on his tires, new to the
Weaknesses: Will have to learn how to block at the NFL level. Too often bounces runs outside. Runs high opening himself up for big hits and hasn’t been very durable. Has ball security issues that are correctable.
Overall: An amazing value as many observers believed a team would reach for him in the second or third round. He’s a dynamic playmaker and can be used in a variety of different ways. Can return kicks and punts and could be used to lighten Jacoby Ford‘s workload as well. His weight is up to 200 and it didn’t slow him down during his proday. Many prospects drop weight during the scouting process in order to put up better numbers, but not Jones. He’s still only 90% healthy and could be even more impressive when fully healthy.
Considering the lack of top-end quality and with Johnnie Lee Higgins headed out the door, the Raiders drafted Tennessee receiver Denarius Moore. He got caught up in a lot of flux in coaching, but put up a few monster games during his junior and senior seasons. He can add valuable depth as a receiver and with consistent coaching could develop into a strong number two receiver.
Strengths: Good hands, tracks the ball well in the air, good body control, decent timed speed. Willing blocker.
Weaknesses: Will struggle to get off press coverage as many rookie receivers do, could polish up his routes.
Overall: Given the depth the the Raiders receivers he could find playing time early than many expect. At very least he will press the third and fourth receiver for reps.
The Raiders selected Richard Gordon as blocking tight end with upside. He’s built similarly to Antonio Gates and the Raiders may see what they can get out of him in the receiving game. Because he wasn’t very productive in the passing game in college there is limited scouting data available.
Strengths: Good blocker at the first and second level, special teams ability, strong at the point of attack, good athlete for his size.
Weaknesses: Very little pass production. Wasn’t given opportunities in the passing game, unknown hands and route running ability.
Overall: The Raiders needed a blocking tight end and Gordon seems to fill this need. He can play special teams and has upside because he seems to be a gifted athlete for his size. The type of player who sticks on the roster and is used in multiple sub-packages.
The Raiders drafted tight end David Ausberry with their final selection. Ausberry is a converted receiver. He’s big at 6′ 4" and 235 pounds. He has good speed for his size. Had a good freshman year, but his production took a dive in 2008 and he was hurt for half of the 2009 season. His switch to tight end was mild success as his production was up in 2010. He was a top prospect at receiver coming out of high school. Good prospect buried at USC? The Raiders will see what they can pull out of Ausberry and see if he can’t make an impact as a backup tight end that occasionally splits out wide.
Strengths: Physical player and is hard to bring down after the catch. Tracks the ball well in flight.
Weaknesses: Sloppy routes, catches with his pads.