Oakland Raiders first round draft prediction: Star Lotulelei
After close examination of the Oakland Raiders roster and the projected players available at the 3rd overall spot, Star Lotulelei is the most likely pick for the Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft. This assessment also takes into account Geno Smith and Jarvis Jones dropping to the 3rd pick.
Here’s why. Geno Smith is a first round talent, but even if he dropped to the 3rd pick, the Raiders front office will want to see what they can do with Terrelle Pryor. They will give it a couple of seasons while they build up the roster as a whole, and if Pryor fails, then there will always be a quarterback better than Smith.
No offense to Geno Smith or any of the other quarterbacks to choose from in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the talent is lacking. Most are developmental prospects, and even Smith, must be seen as a low-end first rounder if his position was not quarterback.
Jarvis Jones, however, is of course a perfect pick for a linebacker crew that is only going to get better with Mile Burris and Philip Wheeler, if Wheeler re-signs. There also is the “spinal stenosis” condition that may or may not shorten Jones’ career.
The medical status of Jones’ career is up in the air at this point, and it is too risky to draft a player as high as him if he may only last a couple of seasons. Not to forget to mention, he is an extremely one-dimensional player.
Jones is a pass rusher, first, second, and thirdly. The Raiders need pass rushers, but what they need more than a pass rushing linebacker is an impact defensive lineman.
Raiders defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are likely to be released this offseason, and the defensive line in general, has not been performing at a high level since 2010.
You will be surprised at just how much adding a good defensive lineman helps the entire defense as a whole get the quarterback. That is where Star Lotulelei comes into the picture for the Raiders.
Lotulelei is not a dominating pass rusher, but his job on the line will be eating up blockers to help the linebackers get to the quarterback. He is scheme diverse, with the ability to play 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE, and 3-4 NT with a few extra pounds.
He would be a perfect player for the Raiders to develop into a dominant defensive lineman in any of those positions, which will most likely be a nose tackle. The biggest thing holding the Raiders from making the transition to the 3-4 base is to find a nose tackle to anchor it.
Lotulelei can be that piece, a piece that is extraordinarily hard to find in the NFL. Exceptional 3-4 nose tackles are not churned out of the draft every year, and Lotulelei can be one of the exceptional ones.
James Cobern is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.