Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Cable says tackle is top need

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

DANA POINT, Calif. - Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable made it clear Tuesday at the AFC's coach's availability that tackle will be the team's top need in the draft.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean the Raiders will select a tackle with their first pick, which is the No. 7 overall pick.

Cable, whose area of expertise is the offensive line, said that this draft class is particularly strong at tackle. He said he believes teams can pick up a tackle that will make an impact as a rookie in the first three rounds. Last year's tackle class was ballyhooed but it was top heavy. This year's class, Cable reasons, is deeper.

Thus, while he didn't come out and say it, Cable may not feel the pressure to pull the trigger on a tackle in the first round.

"We could but we don't have to," Cable said.

The Raiders have options because solid tackle and receivers, their biggest need, are expected to be available when Oakland picks in the first round.

Asked if he could see Oakland taking a top receiver (the best available are Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin) Cable responded by saying "I can see us going that way too."

It is clear Oakland will address both tackle and receiver in the early rounds but exactly when, is the question.

Cable said he likes where his tackle situation is going after the addition of Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears in free agency and the late-season emergence of Mario Henderson. But Cable said he thinks he still needs help there. He also said he likes the Raiders' core of young receives, starting Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens and he believes veteran Javon Walker can be productive if stays healthy. Still, Cable wants to add another receiver.

Other areas of need he said include a complementary tight end to backup Zach Miller and defensive front help.

But tackle is the top priority, Cable says. Still, because but that doesn't mean it will be the position Oakland addresses first.