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An Exciting Pass Rusher is the Biggest Draft Need for Oakland Raiders

Team Finished 31st in the NFL in Sacks Last Season

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COMMENTARY | In the first month of the free agency period, the Oakland Raiders have been one of the busiest teams in the NFL.

From cutting the overpaid contracts of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff and Tommy Kelly, to trading for Matt Flynn and getting rid of Carson Palmer, general manager Reggie McKenzie has proven how serious he is serious about rebuilding this historic franchise.

Now, with the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Raiders must decide where they need the most help.

The team was filled with so many holes last season, and even though McKenzie has done his best to find bargained veterans to fill those voids, the Raiders still have a long way to go.

The secondary was in complete disarray last season as opposing quarterbacks constantly torched them for big play after big play. Even the abysmal Blaine Gabbert was on fire against Oakland before an injury took him out of the game in the first half with Jacksonville cruising against the Raiders' struggling defense.

McKenzie signed veterans Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter to fill those voids at cornerback, so using the No. 3 pick on a guy like Dee Milliner is no longer part of the equation.

The Raiders also lack any sort of protection on the right side of their offensive line, so taking an offensive tackle like Eric Fisher would make sense too.

But what Oakland really needs is a speedy pass rusher to ignite its rebuilding team. Last season, the Raiders couldn't get near any quarterback and it showed as they only recorded 25 sacks the whole year.

Only the Jaguars had less sacks than the Raiders.

Lamarr Houston is the only starting defensive lineman returning from last season since the Raiders voided Richard Seymour's contract, cut the under performing Kelly and failed to re-sign Desmond Bryant, the guy with the greatest mugshot in the history of mugshots.

Oakland needs a guy like Sharrif Floyd or Dion Jordan, somebody who can come in early and be a difference maker.

Head coach Dennis Allen also got a good look at BYU's Ezekiel Ansah at the Senior Bowl, so he is another strong possibility.

The Raiders have had horrible luck with their first round picks over the last decade, and only one of them since 2007 is still on the team.

Of course it is still very possible that McKenzie trades down to accumulate a later first-rounder and a second-rounder. But if the Raiders do keep the No. 3 pick, they must use it on a pass rusher.

Oakland used to be a team that others feared. Al Davis was once a master of the NFL Draft before the game passed him up long before his death.

Though the regime may be new and the culture has shifted into the hands of the aggressive McKenzie, the need for an exciting young player remains the same.

Hopefully that happens with the No. 3 pick this year.

Steven Slivka is a Freelance Writer for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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