Interior Design: Raiders Need Better DT Production

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Oakland Raiders draft prospect DT Vita Vea
Dec 30, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea (50) against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders need for an interior disruptor — which already was underneath a microscope — multiplied exponentially on Monday afternoon.

Oakland’s California division foe, the Los Angeles Chargers, picked up a beefy pivot in former Dolphin Maurice Pouncey. The addition reinforces the interior of the Bolts’ offensive line and helps solidify a unit charged with protecting Philip Rivers — the elder statesman of the AFC West quarterback foursome — and opening holes for running back Melvin Gordon.

If you swing the spotlight back to the Raiders and it’s obvious the team is quite a bit toothless on the interior. Oakland re-upped nose tackle Justin “Jelly” Ellis. Plus, it appears Mario Edwards Jr. slides from defensive end to defensive tackle. Still, Pouncey will make that Jelly jiggle and Edwards Jr. has not been completely healthy.

Oakland has not pounced on the position of need in free agency like the one it did for cornerback (Rashaan Melvin) and linebacker (Tahir Whitehead). Ellis is more of the occupier. Although, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme front-four scheme may give Jelly more opportunities to attack than occupy.

Therefore, that leaves interior disruptor a question mark, for now. Oakland has ample time to find one. The second and third waves of free agency boast talent, although the landscape floods with more nose tackle types. April’s draft also includes its fair share of wreckers while post-draft and post camp free agency will put more on the market. If the Raiders are keen on keeping costs low, draft and post-draft are the best course of action.

A glance at draftable interior linemen:

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    • Vita Vea: A combination of occupier and disruptor. Vea’s ability to draw double (even triple) teams is a disruption in itself. More bodies on Vea mean less on Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The Washington Husky has untapped pass rush chops in his arsenal too. Yet, he profiles as a nose tackle.

  • Maurice Hurst: Armed with a wicked first step, Hurst is arguably the premiere pass rusher of the defensive tackle group. He racked up 12.5 tackles for a loss in his final year at Michigan.As a result, he’d fit as a three technique. However, a combine medical evaluation found a heart condition and the Wolverine is slated for more tests.
  • R.J. McIntosh:  This Miami Hurricane collected 12.5 tackles for a loss in his final year in Miami. In addition, he displayed the ability to either play at tackle in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4.
  • Derrick Nandi: The Florida State Seminole did his best work disrupting the point of attack with 10 tackles for loss.
  • Nathan Shepherd: The Division II prospect out of Fort Hays State was a man amongst boys racking up 12.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks.
  • Greg Gilmore: Versatile enough to fit a 4-3 or a 3-4. The former LSU Tiger finished with 10 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks.
  • Jonathan Franklin: The Stephen F. Austin product wreaked havoc racking up 13.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks in his final year.

 

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