The Oakland Raiders didn't have a first-round pick in this year's NFL draft, at least technically.
But if you ask new Raiders coach Hue Jackson, that selection was made -- on a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end who was a first-round pick in 2001.
"A lot of people say we didn't have a first-round draft pick, but we really felt like we did because, obviously, we got to retain the services of Richard Seymour, who we traded for, and we felt we had the best first-round draft pick in the draft," Jackson said Wednesday on Sirius NFL Radio, according to the Raiders' official team website. "I feel very good about him and where he's headed."
To acquire Seymour in September 2009, the Raiders had to send their 2011 first-round pick (No. 17 overall) to the New England Patriots, who used it to select Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Oakland used its first draft pick -- a second-rounder (48th overall) -- on Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski, an offensive lineman and the nephew of Raiders offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski.
"I talk about changing the culture a little bit here from an offensive standpoint, and I think we all know it starts up front with the lines, and so I wanted to make sure we got the right quarterback," Jackson said. "When I'm talking about quarterback, I'm talking about the quarterback of our offensive line, someone that can come in and lead a group -â a guy who has leadership. But more so than that, a guy who is very physical, very dominant at his position, and so Stefen fit that bill, and we were able to draft him and we're very fortunate to have him."
Choosing offensive linemen isn't flashy business in the draft, but Jackson believes it's a key building block. The Raiders took another offensive lineman, Joseph Barksdale, in the third round.
"I think people don't get -- a lot of the fans -- don't truly understand that when you draft a center how important that is because you have to be strong up the middle of your offensive line because obviously that's the fastest way to the quarterback," Jackson said. "We want to just keep improving our offensive team, especially our front as much as we can, and like I said, we were able to get two very quality, top players in this draft to infuse into our offensive line."
Will Oakland's young linemen crack the starting lineup for the 2011 season opener? Jackson made it sound like a possibility.
"How fast they're going to be ready is yet to be seen," he said. "Is it Game 1? That's what we all hope, but it might be Game 5. No one knows that. But I know one thing: I have the coaching staff in place. We have two very good offensive line coaches in Bob Wylie and Steve Wisniewski, and obviously Steve has had a storied career here. Obviously, Stefen is his nephew, and he's coming here."
"This young man jumps off the video tape when you watch him," Jackson said. "He's extremely explosive. He can run with it, he can catch it, he can return on special teams. You give this man a crease, he's gone.
"He reminds me so much of (Tennessee Titans running back Chris) Johnson. He's not (Chris) Johnson. I don't want to make any comparisons that way, but he has that kind of skill."