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.