For the past week, the Raiders Full Press Coverage team has covered various positions, units, and players from the 2017 season. Today, we will go over the defensive line. This defensive line experienced their share of difficulties throughout the season. The unit failed to control the line of scrimmage early in 2017 and at times, would go missing in games. The line did improve as the year went on. More specifically, the vast improvement from weeks 12-17 when John Pagano took over the reins.
Without further ado, let us breakdown the defensive line individually.
Khalil Mack: 78 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Khalil Mack just dominates and this season was no difference. Mack now has three straight seasons with double-digit sacks and made his third pro bowl team. Even though the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year saw double teams, Mack was still able to terrorize ball carriers throughout the season. Due for a monster contract this offseason, Mack has accomplished everything you could ask for from an elite pass rusher.
Denico Autry: 36 tackles, 5.0 sacks
If there was a player that really benefited from John Pagano taking over the play calling duties on the defense, Denico Autry was it. Autry sacked the quarterback four times in the team’s last six games, finishing the season on a strong note. The big frame of Autry allowed Pagano the flexibility to move him around the line for optimal positioning. Now a free agent, it will be interesting to see if Reggie McKenzie brings back Autry next season.
Mario Edwards: 27 tackles, 3.5 sacks
When you are ready to have some hope with Mario Edwards, the former second round pick will disappear in crucial moments. Edwards was poised for a big season after missing the majority of 2016. Instead, the former Florida State Seminole struggled to find his groove this season and because of this, lost snaps to Autry. The talent is there for Edwards, so it is disappointing to see him not play up to his potential.
Justin Ellis: 48 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Justin Ellis had a solid season for the Raiders defense this year, especially against the run. Ellis will not provide many quarterback pressures, less than 10 this season, but the former Louisiana Tech Bulldog was a consistent plug for opposing rushing attacks. The defensive tackle had some solid games against Kansas City, Washington, Los Angeles, and Dallas last season. Similar to Autry, Ellis is a free agent this offseason and will have some serious suitors.
Eddie Vanderdoes: 18 tackles
After having a solid camp and preseason, Eddie Vanderdoes was not able to carry that momentum over to the 2017 season. The UCLA standout struggled to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Vanderdoes’ season highlight was his bull rush on 2016 All-Pro tackle, Jack Conklin.
Treyvon Hester: 19 tackles, 1 forced fumble
The seventh round pick out of Toledo, Treyvon Hester showed some nice promise in limited playing time this season. Hester forced a fumble against the Patriots and made some nice plays throughout the game in Mexico City. Even though Hester registered only 346 snaps, the potential is there.
With new coordinator Paul Guenther entering the fold, the Raiders will look to build upon this unit