With The Seventh Pick In The FanIQ NFL Mock Draft, The Oakland Raiders Select...
Here are the picks so far:
1. Detroit Lions - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
2. St Louis Rams - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
3. Kansas City Chiefs - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
4. Seattle Seahawks - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
5. Cleveland Browns - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
6. Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
With each pick in the first round costing more and more money in guaranteed contract dollars each year, trading down in the draft would be the most ideal situation. However, trading down isn't as likely now as it has been even as recently as earlier this decade, because of just that reason, teams don't want to absorb the exorbitant amount of money associated with a higher draft choice. With the most pressing of needs for the team that resides under a cloud of secrecy at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway including Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, Offensive Tackle, and Middle Linebacker, the #7 overall choice should be an appropriate place to seize one of the many first round-projected players at each of those positions. But with a draft featuring four top offensive lineman all projected as NFL franchise Left Tackles who can be taken before the Raiders choose, the other positions of need have no clear cut favorite projected that high. With the first round of this Mock Draft proceeding as shown above, the pick that makes the most sense for the Oakland Raiders at #7 is B.J. Raji, the strong and stout Defensive Tackle coming out of Boston College.
Al Davis, de facto General Manager and Owner of the team, hasn't selected a Defensive Lineman in the first round of the Draft since he took problem child and underachiever Darrell Russell with the second overall choice of the 1997 Draft. So while the Raiders' draft history would suggest that the pick would lie in the typical Davis-style choice of a speedster wideout or sprinter defensive back, the Raiders have shown this offseason that they can make the moves typical of a functioning NFL franchise. With Raji being paired with Ron Brace at Boston College, both players had very strong seasons in 2008. Brace is projected as a mid to late first round pick himself, so it will be interesting to see if both players pan out at the pro level individually, or if they needed each other to shine at the college level. That being said, Raji seems to be the player pro scouts like just a little bit more. In the Draft, anything can happen and Raji could be gone by the time to Raiders actually choose, but in this scenario, he makes too much sense.
At the #7 spot, it is not out of the possibility for the team to trade down, as the Raiders have reportedly been taking calls on teams looking to move up if one of those tackle prospects drops down, or QB's Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez are still on the board for those teams needing a franchise QB. If that were to happen, the Raiders could take the big speedster WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, or the much needed true MLB Rey Maualuga. Definitely needs who would be available a little later in the round, but Raji is the right guy here.
With Tommy Kelly coming off of major ACL surgery and an even bigger contract following the 2007-08 season, expectations are very high for him. Backup DT Terdell Sands has been a major disappointment since he received his big contract a year earlier than Kelly, and in light of the fact that Sands reportedly had an altercation with Davis and team favorite P Shane Lechler on a team plane late last season, Sands can be viewed as expendable, with Raji being able to be plugged into the very weak Raiders' defensive line if drafted. If that scenario plays out, the Raiders may have finally found a player who can solidify their sieve of a run defense, if they would be so lucky (or smart) to take Raji.