To no surprise, the Oakland Raiders took a defensive approach early in the draft but the picks were evenly dispersed on both sides of the ball.
Three of the Raiders' first four picks were defensive players but there were five selections each devoted to offense and defense.
"I have to speak to the ability of our scouts in this draft," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. "I thought they were outstanding in every respect. Very thorough in identifying the characteristics that we were looking for. I think there is no better scouting staff in the National Football League that identifies speed as this scouting staff does, and it was obvious in this draft. I will also say now it enters into the next phase where we have to work to go out and coach these guys, improve them, develop them, and make them become the players that we think they are. There is no doubt in my mind that they will add competition to this team."
Regan Upshaw's release and Trace Armstrong landing on injured reserve the last two seasons magnified Oakland's need at defensive end. In addition, Tony Bryant's status is still uncertain after sustaining a neck injury.
The Raiders addressed defensive end by selecting Colorado's Tyler Brayton in the first round and South Florida's Shurron Pierson in the fourth round. Pierson is also versatile enough to play linebacker.
Safety also became a need after the club released Anthony Dorsett. Oakland addressed that position by selection California's Nnamdi Asomgha in the first round and New Mexico State's Jeremy "Siddeeq" Shabazz. Those moves signal that 2003 is a critical year for strong safety Derrick Gibson, who Oakland selected in the first-round of 2001. Gibson has been hampered with injuries but when healthy his play has not been of first-round quality.
The Raiders drafting three wide receivers, Stanford's Teyo Johnson (second round), Central Florida's Doug Gabriel (fourth round) and Gustavus Adolphus College's Ryan Hoag (seventh round), should not be a surprise despite the presence of Jerry Rice, Jerry Porter and Tim Brown. Oakland could use an eventual sidekick for Porter.
BYU offensive tackle Dustin Rykert, whom Oakland took in the sixth round, is versatile enough to play guard and tackle – versatility that Callahan covets. The Raiders, however, did not draft a center or guard despite the uncertainty of Barret Robbins' and Mo Collins' future. Does that course of action suggest they will return as Raiders? Robbins' future has been clouded by his episode on Super Bowl weekend while Collins is an unrestricted free agent.
Running back Justin Fargas, a third round pick from USC, adds youth to a backfield that features productive veterans over 30 in Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley. Fresno State's Sam Williams, also a third round choice, adds more youth at Oakland's linebacker unit.