Could the Oakland Raiders have more draft needs than any other club? Opinions will vary, but the Raiders have to be in the team picture. Even worse, the Raiders have just seven draft picks — four of which are in Round Six or later. Let’s take a closer look at all of the areas Oakland must address:
Defensive line: The Raiders need help throughout the line after the departures of tackles Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly as well as end Matt Shaughnessy. Also, end Richard Seymour remains unsigned. The Raiders’ best defensive lineman under contract, Lamarr Houston, can play outside and inside, but he can test free agency after the 2013 season. Adding pass rush help is a must; the Raiders recorded just 25 sacks a season ago, and all but 5.5 of those sacks were notched by players who are no longer on the roster.
Quarterback: Newly acquired Matt Flynn is signed for two more seasons and is garnering relatively little money for a starting quarterback. He has made two career regular-season starts — just one more than Terrelle Pryor, the only other passer currently on the roster. If the Raiders believe there is a franchise quarterback in this draft, there is no reason not to take him.
Offensive line: The Raiders have a couple solid younger players here in left tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefen Wisniewski, but guard and right tackle are positions which could stand to be bolstered. Again, positional value comes into play here, as does the lack of prime draft picks for Oakland. That said, adding a lineman wouldn’t be unreasonable, especially with Veldheer’s contract up at the end of this season.
Cornerback: The Raiders bolstered this position by agreeing with Mike Jenkins on Monday. However, Jenkins fell out of favor in Dallas. Tracy Porter, who looks like the other starter, missed a good deal of the 2012 season because of a seizure, then a concussion. (For his part, Porter recently said he was “cleared of everything” regarding the seizure.) Even if Porter and Jenkins are in good form, the Raiders still need more help at this position. The same, frankly, can be said for safety, but positional value makes cornerback a more pressing concern.
Tight end / wide receiver: The Raiders would be wise to add to their options at these positions. With Brandon Myers departing for the Giants, the Raiders are left with Richard Gordon and David Ausberry (both late-round picks of Oakland in 2011) and Mickey Shuler (a 2010 seventh-rounder of Minnesota) at tight end. The trio has combined for 14 career regular-season catches. At wideout, the Raiders have several players who have flashed ability (Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford), but one more target would help.
The Raiders’ rebuilding process could be arduous. General manager Reggie McKenzie has torn up this roster, and several key players — including running back Darren McFadden — are in contract years. The Raiders desperately need to build a talented core they can count upon for years to come, and they must make the most of their fairly limited opportunities in this draft.