Oakland Raiders vs. AFC West: Defensive Line

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Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52), defensive tackle Antonio Smith (94) and defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Raiders defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Among the biggest questions facing the Oakland Raiders this offseason was in regard to their defensive line. Though Justin Tuck performed at a high level, for the most part, last season’s acquisitions of Antonio Smith and LaMarr Woodley didn’t exactly pan out as hoped. To say the least.

Though the defensive line played well in spurts, by and large, they were one of Oakland’s most ineffective units. They were not able to generate consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks – with just 22 sacks on the season (and only seven of those generated by their defensive ends), the Raiders were tied with Atlanta for 31st in the league in that category (only Cincinnati was worse).

The pass rushing was dismal, but so too was the Raiders’ ability to stop the run. While the defense seemed to play better down the stretch – the run defense held opposing offenses under 100 yards rushing in four of their last six games. But in those two games where they didn’t, the Raiders gave up 172 yards on the ground to the Rams in week 13 and 142 yards to the Broncos in the season finale.

Oakland’s performance down the stretch was certainly a big improvement over the beginning of the season when they gave up at least 118 yards on the ground in eight of the first ten.

But the Raiders have made some moves this offseason to improve that defensive line, hoping that it will resemble the Oakland defensive line in the last six games of the season more than the defensive line of the first ten.

But even with all of the offseason movement, how does Oakland’s new look defensive line stack up against their AFC West rivals?

We’ve already looked at how Oakland’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, offensive line, tight ends, and cornerbacks measure up against the division. Now it’s time to look at how their defensive line stacks up…

Next: 4. San Diego Chargers