After the Raiders completed the draft, the roster begins to fill out. With an intriguing blend of veterans and rookies, the defensive line looks to hopefully surprise. After a nightmarish 2018, the Raiders begin to put the pieces together, in the hopes of finally solving a glaring issue. Below, a quick synopsis of their presumptive starting front four, headed into workouts.
While the initial shock of his selection, fourth overall, wore off, Ferrell needs a big 2019. Granted, no one can rationally assume that Ferrell immediately replaces Khalil Mack. However, with his ability to get into the backfield, don’t be surprised at a seven-sack season. What works in Ferrell’s favor is his relentless nature. While other edges possess more spring or speed, Ferrell will work on his jump from the snap. From there, the rest is up to him.
Despite falling to the fifth with first-round talent, Hurst provided the Raiders with four sacks. Leading the team with such a low number painted the clearest photo of the defense. Yet, Hurst’s blend of quickness and ability to finish plays should give the faithful hope going forward. With multiple edge rushers, Hurst could benefit from the spacing.
In analyzing Hankins, please do not read his stats. His job and its efficiency do not rely on his ability to get home. Hankins must clog the middle, prevented the running game from taking shape. In addition, his presence allows Hurst the freedom to win, singled up. Hankins’ power and destructive hands will force the quarterback laterally. Climbing the ladder in the pocket could be an issue.
Whether you like him on the roster or not, Key remains a vital part of the rotation. Although he displays a decent first step and the nimble twitch of an edge rusher, the stats are what they are. While Key did flash into the backfield, the lack of play strength allows opponents to either break free or slither away. In 2019, with a starting job up in the air, Key needs to work on his technique. This year will answer the question of Key’s role. If he is a full-time end, capable of stopping the run or is he strictly a situational rusher.
If this lineup holds, the Raiders could see marked improvement. However, with Maxx Crosby and PJ Hall poised as backups looking for snaps, they could unseat a starter. More importantly, can Paul Guenther thrive with this?