Throughout its illustrious history, the Oakland Raiders enjoyed a slew of talented defensive ends. With Clelin Ferrell set to begin his journey in silver and black, let’s look back at other defensive ends in team history. Granted, we all know Mack, Long, and Townsend, but which end flies under the radar. To answer this, FPC Raiders writers Pete Camarillo, Ray Aspuria and Terry Biggs discuss this topic.
I’m going with Derrick Burgess. He only played four seasons in Oakland but he had 35 sacks in the first three seasons. Sure, he wasn’t the biggest or most rounded end we’ve seen in the Silver and Black. However, he was the lone bright spot on a defense that lacked any other significant edge usher. Overall, those defenses were strapped for talent outside of old Warren Sapp and derailed by injuries .During the hard years we longed for a defensive spark on Sundays and in Madden, Burgess was the player who consistently delivered. Burgess also helped groom young Tommy Kelly, Nnamdi Asomugha, Thomas Howard, and Kirk Morrison who made careers for themselves. Arden Key should look up Burgess’ tape to see what a very speedy, undersized rusher looks like. He could learn from Burgess’ bend, getoff, tracking of the QB and speed to power conversion.
Anthony Smith. Taken with the 11th pick of the 1990 draft, Smith was a double-digit sack artist his first three years before finishing his career with 57.5 career sacks. Flashier names and more colorful personalities litter the Raiders’ historical pass rush crew (Howie Long, Ted Hendricks, Lyle Alzado, Lance Johnstone, Derrick Burgess, etc.) but Smith was a consistent force on the edge.
If you look at the stats and examine the film, Lance Johnstone enjoyed a fantastic career. First, for a defensive end that weighed no more than 250, pounds, Johnstone held up versus the run. Next, he displayed a knack for dislodging the ball. Forcing eleven tackles in six years as a Raider, Johnstone mastered the strip. Despite his size limitations, he fought his way into the backfield. After notching 31 sacks in a five-year career, the Raiders let Johnstone walk away. During his Vikings’ tenure, he tallied 41 more sacks. In retrospect, you’d wonder what Johnstone could’ve added to the Raiders, if he stayed.