Raiders Draft Position Overview

The Oakland Raiders figure to have a busy weekend for the 2003 NFL Draft as they still have some residual effects from the trade of head coach Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

Oakland two picks in the first round and one each in the second through seventh rounds. Here's a position-by-position look at the Raiders entering the draft:

 

OFFENSE

            Quarterback: Rich Gannon is coming off an MVP season, third-year man Marques Tuiasosopo is the quarterback of the future while Rick Mirer gives the team an experienced No. 3 man. Oakland will likely leave this position alone unless they find a coup in the late rounds that can eventually back up Tuiasosopo.

 

            Running back: The only change here is the Raiders essentially trading fullbacks in losing Jon Ritchie to free agency to Philadelphia and replacing him with former Eagle Cecil Martin. Charlie Garner, Zack Crockett and Tyrone Wheatley are still productive but also passed their 30th birthdays. Oakland may take a running back on the first day.

 

            Wide receiver: The Raiders have a great threesome in Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Jerry Porter but they could use an eventual complement to Porter. Oakland will probably take a receiver either late on the first day or early in the second.

 

            Tight end: Oakland hit paydirt in last year's draft by selecting Doug Jolley in the second round. The Raiders restructured the contract of Roland Williams and will likely leave this position as is.

 

            Offensive line: Center will probably be addressed given the uncertainty of Pro Bowl selection Barret Robbins' status. Guard could be a position of need because unrestricted free agent Mo Collins is not resigned. Oakland has both starting tackles, Barry Sims and Lincoln Kennedy, coming back and a good safety net in second-year man Langston Walker. The Raiders are likely to address at least one position if not two up front.

 

DEFENSE

            Defensive line: Defensive end is definitely a need since Tony Bryant's future is uncertain after a spinal cord injury. Trace Armstrong has landed on IR in each of the last two seasons. At tackle, Oakland lost Sam Adams but replaced him with Dana Stubblefield. Defensive end will likely be addressed with one of their first two draft picks.

 

            Linebackers: Oakland has two young playmakers in Eric Barton and Napoleon Harris along with productive veteran Bill Romanowski. The Raiders, however, could use an eventual replacement for the 37-year old Romanowski. Oakland may take a linebacker on Day Two for depth purposes.

 

            Defensive backs: The Raiders have a potentially outstanding pair of cornerbacks in Charles Woodson and Phillip Buchanon but they combined to miss 18 games because of injuries. Oakland resigned Rod Woodson at free safety but released Anthony Dorsett and Derrick Gibson has been inconsistent. Look for Oakland to address this position on the second day.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

            The Raiders have one of the best kicking tandems in kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler. The latter's performance slipped a little bit but Oakland is a very good shape at this position and with the return game. Buchanon is an electrifying punt returner and free agent Ronney Jenkins is capable of big kickoff returns.

 

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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