When assessing the potential draft strategies of any NFL team, speculations abound. They emanate from the seasoned analyst with expert projections, the casual fan hoping for a flashy player, and from just about everyone in between.
For the 2011 Oakland Raiders, a variety of different draft needs could be heard from voices outside of the organization. Suggestions included bolstering the secondary or adding depth to the offensive line.
Head Coach Hue Jackson was aware of the ideas being discussed for how the Raiders should execute their selections. He respected these opinions, but he and the organization would do whatever was necessary to improve the team; both for the upcoming season and into the future.
"Obviously, there are players missing in some…areas [of this team]," stated Coach Jackson. "And…we're going to address that as we continue to move forward…Making sure we put the…best players that we can through this draft on our football team is what we're after."
That entailed drafting a stalwart to anchor the middle of the offensive line during day two of the 2011 NFL Draft. The Raiders selected center/guard Stefen Wisniewski out of Penn State in the second round as the # 48 overall pick.
Coach Jackson was wholly satisfied with the selection. "Stefen Wisniewski…is a guy that we had targeted...We wanted to address the offensive line and we've started that today," explained the head coach. He's going to play center for the Oakland Raiders and I'm very excited."
In the third round of the draft, the Raiders selected defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke out of the University of Miami with the 81st overall pick. Coach Jackson believed he would greatly strengthen the teams secondary. "[Van Dyke can] cover and run…the characteristics that we're looking for in our corners," said Coach Jackson.
The Raiders also executed a trade with the New England Patriots, acquiring an additional third and a fourth round selection. This provided the team with more fortification for the offensive line and speed and play-making ability to the offense.
"We got an opportunity to get two third round draft picks and two fourth round draft picks…Honestly, we nailed it," explained Coach Jackson.
With the #92 overall pick, the Raiders chose defensive-turned-offensive lineman Joseph Barksdale from LSU. Coach Jackson summed up the newest Raider. "[He's a] big guy who's athletic, tough, tenacious, and who loves to play the game and…the offensive line," said the head coach.
In the fourth round, the team selected defensive back Chimdi Chekwa from Ohio St. as the 113th overall selection. Coach Jackson envisioned him as a capable performer for a variety of different roles. "I think he can do anything we need him to do," Coach Jackson said. "We are going to play him at corner, [but] the guy has such an unbelievable skill set that, if the need arises, we'll utilize him at another position."
The Raiders also selected running back Taiwan Jones out of Eastern Washington in the fourth round. The head coach saw something special in Jones. "How do you pass up a guy that can make plays like that…a guy that can score touchdowns as often and as fast as he can?" asked Jackson to the press.
The Raiders had three more picks – one in the fifth, one in the sixth, and a compensatory selection in the seventh. In that order, the team and Coach Jackson selected speedy wide receiver Denarius Moore of Tennessee, tight end Richard Gordon out of Miami and the multi-position threat in David Ausberry from the University of Southern California.
With that, the 2011 NFL Draft for the Oakland Raiders came to a conclusion. "We took guys that have great character, great integrity, guys who love the silver and black, guys who we think are fantastic football players and have potential to be good, and some guys have the potential to be great, and that's what we're going to chase and that's what we hope to become," said Coach Jackson. "This organization, this team, is going to become something."