Thursday, April 14, 2005

On the Radar

The Raiders always see themselves as Super Bowl contenders. This year is no different, even though they went 5-11 last season. But to make a run at the playoffs, they need to upgrade the defense. The team has added DE Derrick Burgess and DT Kenny Smith, but it also cut FS Ray Buchanan and traded LB Napoleon Harris.

Selecting a safety such as Michigan's Ernest Shazor in the second round would make sense. Shazor is a consistent playmaker who could make an immediate impact. He has impressive size and speed for a strong safety and is a big hitter. He could challenge incumbent Derrick Gibson and Marques Anderson and turn a problem area into a strength. He has the size (6-3, 224) to match up against the division's monster tight ends, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

Oklahoma State's Darrent Williams would be a nice selection in the third or fourth round. He's a polished cornerback who could provide immediate help in the nickel or dime. Williams (5-8.5, 176) is considered too short and too slight to be a shutdown corner, but he is one of the fastest players in the draft and can make big plays. Drafting Temple LB Rian Wallace in the middle rounds would help fill the void left by Harris' departure. Wallace is a dependable tackler who makes plays in the backfield.

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