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RAIDERS DRAFT
Armed with No. 7 pick, Oakland could be targeting a top-end WR
Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin would be logical choices

  • Press Democrat Raiders beat writer Phil Barber predicts the Raiders will select Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin with the seventh overall selection in the first round of the NFL Draft on Saturday. (CHARLIE RIEDEL / Associated Press)

Load the confetti cannons. Cue the marching band. Finally, the Raiders are poised to make some noise.

It has been an eerily quiet offseason in Alameda. A year after Al Davis dominated the March/April news cycle by trading for cornerback DeAngelo Hall and signing free agents like wide receiver Javon Walker and safety Gibril Wilson, the NFLs last maverick owner has rolled out the red carpet for practically no one of marquee value unless you believe that Khalif Barnes is the next Lincoln Kennedy.

To be fair, it was all by design. Chastened by the disastrous results of last years spending spree, the Raiders took care of their own in 2009, signing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, punter Shane Lechler and guard Cooper Carlisle, among others, to new contracts.

You needed to get the core re-signed. Like a Lechler, like an Asomugha, like a (cornerback) Chris Johnson and a Cooper Carlisle, said Tom Cable, who will be orchestrating or at least accompanying his first NFL draft as a head coach. Those guys to me were really important. (Tight end) Tony Stewart maybe he doesnt have a huge role, but hes got a big role in that locker room and on this football team. ... That far outweighs signing some name or some big salary, because that didnt do a damn thing for us.

But now comes the fun part. The Raiders sixth consecutive losing season resulted in another high draft choice, this time No. 7 overall. Cable said the team has identified four main positions of need. He wouldnt divulge what they were, but wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive tackle and safety would be good bets.

The talent pool among those positions could yield an immediate starter at No. 7 an offensive lineman such as Virginias Eugene Monroe or Alabamas Andre Smith, a wide receiver like Texas Techs Michael Crabtree or Missouris Jeremy Maclin, or maybe Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji.

Theres a lot of choices. Really good choices, Cable said. We can go a lot of different ways. I think thats a good thing, in that weve got about three or four real needs that we need to address.

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