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Raiders have "serious" conversations with team interested in trade

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Teams picking near the top of the NFL Draft normally have plenty of needs.

Even after a busy offseason of acquisitions that brought in former Pro Bowlers DeAngelo Hall and Javon Walker, the Oakland Raiders are no different.

That's why Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said the team is giving consideration to moving down from the No. 4 spot in the first round to make up for the fact that Oakland's second of five picks doesn't come until the fourth round with the 104th overall selection.

"More than ever, not in Raider fashion, we may trade back," Kiffin said Thursday. "It hasn't happened before but it is something we're seriously looking at. And that stems from the lack of picks and not having a fifth, a third or a second. It's something we're really looking at and having conversations about."

Kiffin said the Raiders have talked to a number of teams interested in the fourth pick, with some of those conversations characterized as "serious."

The fourth pick could have significant value because it's probable that highly regarded running back Darren McFadden will be available and there's also a good chance that top quarterback Matt Ryan will be there for the taking.

The Raiders clearly would not draft Ryan after using the No. 1 overall selection last year on quarterback JaMarcus Russell. They also don't have a glaring need for McFadden, a player Kiffin has compared to Reggie Bush.

Kiffin has downplayed Oakland's interest in McFadden because the team re-signed Justin Fargas to a $12 million, three-year contract earlier in the offseason, renegotiated Dominic Rhodes' contract, and thinks highly of Michael Bush, who missed his rookie season recovering from a broken leg.

The Raiders finished sixth overall in running last season and had a 100-yard rusher in half of their games.

"We're so stockpiled at that position," Kiffin said. "Sometimes running back's not a need but a dynamic player, sometimes you obviously have to look at because the guy is so good at it he becomes a need for a star at that position. Obviously we've watched a lot of him, done a lot of research on him. But there's so many different directions for us to go before we get to running."

The primary need for the Raiders is at defensive line, which is also a strength at the top of this draft. Oakland allowed a league-worst 4.8 yards per carry and had only 27 sacks during a 4-12 season.

With offensive lineman Jake Long already taken No. 1 by Miami, the Raiders are assured that at least one of the top three defensive linemen -- Glenn Dorsey, Chris Long and Vernon Gholston -- will be on the board when they pick at No. 4.

"It's a position of need for us and there's going to be at least one really good player there when we pick from the D-line," Kiffin said.

Dorsey is the least likely of the three to still be available after St. Louis and Atlanta make their picks, but the Raiders appear to have a bigger need at end where Long and Gholston play instead of tackle.

Kiffin said newly re-signed lineman Tommy Kelly would start at one of the defensive tackle spots next season and praised the offseason work by Terdell Sands, a disappointment as a run-stopper last season.

Kiffin had his biggest praise for Chris Long. Kiffin called Long a "phenomenal effort player" who has proven he can play in a number of different roles.

"He's so strong at the point of attack, and would be a guy that I think would help us tremendously in the run game," Kiffin said.

Gholston is more of a pass-rusher than a run-stopper, but the Raiders do need to replace Chris Clemons, who left as a free agent after tying for the team lead with eight sacks last season.

The other needs the Raiders could address in the draft are at receiver, offensive line, outside linebacker, safety and returner.

The Raiders have been the NFL's worst team since getting to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season, posting a 19-61 record the past five seasons. The production in the draft has been a big reason for those struggles.

Oakland hasn't drafted a Pro Bowl player since getting punter Shane Lechler in the fifth round in 2000. The last non-specialist drafted to make the Pro Bowl with the Raiders was cornerback Charles Woodson in 1998 and the last offensive Pro Bowler drafted was center Barret Robbins in 1995.

The Raiders have had three top 10 selections the past four seasons and haven't found a surefire star yet. Robert Gallery struggled at tackle in his first three seasons after being the second pick in 2002 before showing some positive signs as a left guard last season despite a penchant for penalties.

Safety Michael Huff has just one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery since being taken seventh in 2006, and Russell started only one game last season because of a contract dispute after being picked first overall.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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