The Oakland Raiders had themselves an incredibly rough season last year, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Oakland allowed a disappointing 118 rushing yards per game along with 235 yards on average given up in the pass game. General manager Reggie McKenzie understands that the defensive troubles and breakdowns must come to an end in order to compete in this league, and he has certainly took action this offseason.
Oakland’s defensive depth chart is currently much different than it was last year, and it’s beginning to look promising for the first time in a while.
Defensive Ends – L. Houston, A. Carter, B. Blair, R. Robinson, J. Hunter, J. Crawford, D. Bass, E. Harper.
Defensive Tackles – P. Sims, S. McGee, J. Jones, V. Walker, C. Bilukidi, K. Taufa’asau.
The Raiders defensive line struggled with both rushing the passer and stopping the run game throughout last season. Giving up an average of 118 yards on the ground is unacceptable, and also a recipe for disaster.
The opponent’s run game would constantly get going which ultimately would open up the pass game as well. This is an area where Oakland needs to improve significantly or else things can get ugly in a hurry.
Outside Linebackers – N. Roach, M. Burris, K. Burnett, S. Moore, K. Clayton.
Middle Linebackers – K. Maiava, T. Goethel, B. Boyko.
Phillip Wheeler, who is now officially a Miami Dolphin, played very well as an outside linebacker last season along with rookie Miles Burris on the other side. The problem for the Raiders was the middle linebacker spot, where Rolando McClain was playing the majority of time.
McClain, who is not on Oakland’s roster anymore, was not performing like a starting linebacker in the NFL. The youngster simply looked lost out there, as he was constantly out of position which led to numerous gains that could of been prevented.
Thankfully, McKenzie picked up some great talent in free agency and in the draft, as Sio Moore was one of the best linebackers out of this year’s draft. Expect a strong improvement from this linebacking core compared to last year’s, especially in the middle.
Strong Safeties – T. Branch, R. Smith, S. Johnson.
Free Safeties – C. Woodson, U. Young, C. Nelms.
The safety position is the area where Raider fans should be least concerned about. With the addition of veteran Charles Woodson along with a great talent acquired in Usama Young, the safety position should be a huge improvement from how it was last season.
The talented first string strong safety Tyvon Branch, who Oakland fans have become very familiar with the past few years, comes with tremendous energy and hard-work and will continue to be a leader on this defense.
D. Hayden, T. Porter, P. Adams, M. Jenkins, J. Hanson, B. Ross, C. Chekwa.
This is a position where Oakland needs to see significant improvement, and that’s why McKenzie brought in a plethora of talent to fulfill this area.
Expect to see the Raiders first pick in the draft D.J. Hayden to get a good chunk of playing time, along with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins who were both recently acquired this offseason. Porter and Adams are two proven corners who have had many respective seasons, look to them to improve the struggling Raiders secondary tremendously.