Commentary

Raiders in good position with fourth overall pick

Scouts Inc. puts the Raiders on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.

Originally Published: April 15, 2008
By Keith Kidd | Scouts Inc.

As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

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Raiders
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The Raiders have the worst record in the NFL (19-61) since 2003. Their record is even worse than that of the Texans, who have been in the NFL only since 2002. Second-year head coach Lane Kiffin is already on the hot seat after his breakdown in communication and disagreement over defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with owner Al Davis. Kiffin wanted to oust Ryan, but Davis showed everyone who makes the final decision. Ryan's defense struggled at times in the 2007 season, but he is still one of the best unknown coordinators in the NFL. However, Oakland must play with more consistency, especially against the run.

Offensively, the Raiders have their quarterback of the future in JaMarcus Russell, but they must find a way to upgrade the offensive line, which has struggled to be consistent the past few seasons. Also, the Raiders must find a way to improve their kicking game with regard to coverage and return ability. Oakland was very aggressive in free agency, but it remains to be seen whether those moves will help the Raiders close the gap on the divisional champion Chargers.

Key Additions

Davis started his aggressive plan before the start of free agency by franchising CB Nnamdi Asomugha and re-signing DE Tommy Kelly and RB Justin Fargas. Asomugha has developed into one the game's best corners; Kelly is a versatile three-down player; and Fargas gained 1,009 yards to lead a rushing attack that was one of the few bright spots last season.

Oakland's biggest offseason move was acquiring CB DeAngelo Hall in a trade from the Falcons for a second-round pick this season and a pick in 2009. The Raiders now have two big-time corners who can flourish on the backend when matching up in Ryan's defensive schemes. Another key signing was the addition of WR Javon Walker, who was released by the Broncos. If healthy, Walker gives Oakland a dynamic playmaker on the outside opposite Ronald Curry.

The Raiders also signed WR Drew Carter, OT Kwame Harris, C John Wade, FS Gibril Wilson, DT William Joseph and DE Kalimba Edwards. Wilson was their biggest defensive signing because he is an instinctive player who should stabilize an area of weakness.

Mock Draft: Raiders
The Pick (No. 4 overall):
DE Chris Long, Virginia
Insider

Long
Todd McShay: The Raiders' dream scenario -- the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long -- slipping to the fourth pick is definitely a likely scenario.
Complete mock draft Insider
Vote: Team needs

Key Losses

The Raiders also took some hits in free agency with the losses of DE Chris Clemons, DE Tyler Brayton, DB Chris Carr, WR Jerry Porter and QB Josh McCown. Clemons is a very effective edge rusher in sub who finished the season with eight sacks. Brayton is a situational player who never played to the level of his first-round status. Carr was used mainly in sub and as a return specialist. Even though Porter was underused as an explosive downfield threat, he is still a productive front-line starting receiver in the NFL. Losing Porter could hinder this offense if Walker struggles to meet expectations.

Plus, 13-year veteran DT Warren Sapp retired and OT Barry Sims was released. Sapp's loss shouldn't hurt Oakland too much, however, because he had been declining slowly his last few seasons.

Remaining Questions

The Raiders already have addressed many needs this offseason and are in a perfect position to get an impact player with the fourth pick overall. However, they have only five picks in the draft and must do a great job of addressing certain needs in later rounds. If they don't use their first pick to address the offensive line, they must do so with their later picks. Oakland also will look to add another quarterback and a young receiver with speed. Defensively, the Raiders need depth on the defensive line, another young outside linebacker and an explosive return specialist.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.