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Raiders pick with latest first choice ever

The Sports Xchange
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Previously, the latest slot the Raiders ever used on their first selection was No. 54 on Washington defensive end Dave Browning in 1978.

The hope of general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen was for depth and players who could compete for roster spots regardless of position, and at best that's what they will get.

Tony Bergstrom and fourth-round pick Miles Burris fit the McKenzie mold as players whose love for the details of football and unquestioned effort on the field make them likely contributors.

The draft did contain two Al Davis-like picks in defensive linemen Jack Crawford and Christo Bilukidi, gifted athletes who were originally basketball players before taking up the sport late in high school and then playing in college.

Unless Bilukidi pans out instantly as an interior presence against the run, the Raiders did not appear to make a move designed to shore up one of the NFL's worst run defenses over the past nine years.

BEST PICK

Guard/tackle Tony Bergstrom: Bergstrom has the requisite mobility and skill to be an excellent cut-blocker in the zone blocking scheme. He'll begin as a guard, but if the Raiders want to keep Cooper Carlisle in the lineup they could move him to right tackle and he would have a chance eventually to start there.

COULD SURPRISE

Defensive end Jack Crawford: Although he disappeared at times at Penn State, Crawford could become an asset in nickel situations with his long arms and ability to deflect and bat down passes, as well as on extra points and field goals.

A closer look at the Raiders' picks:

3/95 - Tony Bergstrom, G-T, 6-5, 313, Utah

The Raiders like his maturity, versatility and passion. Agile enough to be successful in zone blocking scheme, he'll open as a guard but can move if necessary.

4/129 - Miles Burris, LB, 6-2, 246, San Diego State

An outside linebacker in a 3-3-5 scheme in college, Burris did a little bit of everything. His film stands out in terms of passion and playmaking and he should be an asset on special teams.

5/158 - Jack Crawford, DE, 6-5, 274 Penn State

The London-born Crawford was late to football but showed promise with 6.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, batting down six passes.

5/168 - Juron Criner, WR, 6-2, 220, Arizona State

In his final two seasons with the Wildcats, Criner caught 157 passes for 2,189 yards and 22 touchdowns. Will compete as a possession play-maker alongside Raiders' speedsters.

6/189 - Christo Bilukidi, DL, 6-5, 290, Georgia State

Against small-school competition, Bilukidi had 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss who was drawing the attention from several teams although his name eluded many draft experts.

7/230 Nathan Stupar, LB, 6-2, 241, Penn State

An outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions who led the team with 80 tackles, Stupar will move into the middle for the Raiders. The nephew of former Raiders quarterback Jeff Hostetler.

--Reggie McKenzie's interminable wait for his first draft pick as a general manager finally ended at 8 p.m. after 94 players had come off the board over a span of nearly eight hours covering two days.

The Raiders selected Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, a pick devoid of any flash but one McKenzie believes has plenty of substance.

"I didn't get consumed (with the knowledge that it was my first pick), but I knew it was," McKenzie said. "It's not too fancy, like if you grab a quarterback or a receiver, someone who scores touchdowns. This is a blue-collar position, and he was the best player we had up there."

Bergstrom played primarily right tackle at Utah, but worked at guard at the Senior Bowl and will begin his professional career there with the Raiders.

"I think this is a versatile player," coach Dennis Allen said. "I think he can play offensive tackle. I think he can play offensive guard. I think he's the type of guy that fits the type of scheme we're going to run here, with some of our zone blocking stuff and his ability to get to the second level.

"When you watch tape on him, you can tell this guy loves football."

Bergstrom thinks the Oakland blocking scheme fits his skills perfectely.

"Zone was always our bread and butter," Bergstrom said. "That's the first play you've got to establish. It keeps the defense honest. You can run it against any look they throw at you. You can run it into any blitz. I'm a big believer in it and I feel I can block it."

During the inactive first day, McKenzie briefly made his way to the media area to get a glass of lemonade. It was no coincidence that Cincinnati was on the clock with the 17th pick of the first round.

"I wanted to let you guys know we took Carson Palmer," McKenzie said.

Palmer, of course, arrived in the October trade from the Bengals in exchange for the 2012 first-round pick, and a first- or second-round pick next season.

It was the second consecutive year and the eighth time in franchise history the Raiders were without a first-round pick, having sent the 2010 first-round pick a year earlier to the New England Patriots to acquire defensive tackle Richard Seymour.

Other draft picks this season Oakland dealt to other teams included a third-round pick to New England to move up and draft tackle Joe Barskdale, a fourth-round pick to the Patriots in order to select running back Taiwan Jones, and a fourth-round pick dispatched to Washington in exchange for quarterback Jason Campbell.

Finally, a seventh-round pick was lost in the trade that brought Aaron Curry to Oakland from Seattle.

The draft room was pretty quiet, with the Raiders not having only two tradable draft picks in the fifth and sixth rounds and a roster that's pretty much set, meaning there was little opportunity to move up.

"It was still exciting amongst the staff because we went through day as 'who we gonna pick?' It was a nice dress rehearsal," McKenzie said. "Today was much more anticipation. But no, we had no ammunition, no calls coming in to offer us their first-round pick."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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