The Oakland Raiders defense in 2012 was as sloppy and embarrassing as Jim Morrison during a certain Miami concert in 1969.
Simply put: they need an upgrade.
Under new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the Raiders finished in the bottom half of the league defending both the run and the pass. Defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour weren't living up to their ridiculous contracts and the two veterans combined for just 4.5 sacks the entire season.
The secondary was just as atrocious as opposing quarterbacks picked apart the Raiders' defensive backs quicker than you can say "blowout."
That is exactly what teams did when they played the Raiders. They blew them out.
During its six-game losing streak from Week 9 through Week 14, Oakland gave up 36 points a game. No offense, not even the mighty New England Patriots, is good enough to compensate for such a horrible defense.
Luckily for the silver and black, the 2013 NFL draft is loaded with defensive talent. As it stands now, the Raiders are still without a pick in the second and fifth rounds, but General Manager Reggie McKenzie is more than capable of pulling off some trades to get the Raiders a couple more picks.
Oakland hasn't had a first-round pick since the 2010 NFL draft when it took Rolando McClain with the No. 8 overall pick. Needless to say, he's given the team more headaches than tackles.
This year, the Raiders have the No. 3 pick in the draft and after an abysmal season in 2012, anybody they take off the board will instantly make them better.
Here are three players the Raiders should consider taking in the first round:
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Oakland's biggest need in this year's draft is a speedy and aggressive defensive end to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That man is Florida State's Bjoern Werner.
The German-born Werner finished with 13 sacks in 2012 and is one of the most dangerous pass rushers in this year's draft. He has the speed to beat tackles off the edge and the strength to shed blocks and be one of the first defenders in the backfield.
Oakland found a "diamond in the rough" last year with defensive end Lamarr Houston, and pairing him with Werner would greatly benefit the Raiders' struggling defensive line that finished 31st in the NFL in sacks.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Oakland's secondary was so bad last season that Michael Huff was forced to convert to cornerback from his normal free safety position.
When you start the year with Ron Bartell as your best cornerback, you are sure to be in for a long season. Alabama's Dee Milliner is the most complete cornerback in the draft, and the Raiders could definitely use him to revamp their depleted secondary.
Milliner also played in the SEC, the most competitive conference in the entire country. He has great speed and can cover as much ground as any other defensive back in the country.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Not only were Oakland's two overpaid defensive tackles disappointing, they were undisciplined and constantly killed the Raiders' momentum.
Assuming Oakland doesn't re-sign Seymour in the offseason, Utah's Star Lotulelei would be a critical addition to the interior part of the defensive line.
Lotulelei won the Morris Trophy for being the Pac-12's best defensive lineman in 2012, and his size and quickness are sure to cause trouble for any lineman who tries to stand in his way.
Perhaps a younger and a more explosive defensive tackle could even rejuvenate Kelly's career and help the Raiders' defensive line become relevant again.
Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka
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