While fans gush over the Raiders’ supercharged offense, a more intimidating force being awaits. The team’s run defense. The Raiders stacked their defensive line with Maliek Collins from the Dallas Cowboys joining Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, and Maurice Hurst.
Crosby and Hurst solidified their positions in the last year. Yet, the addition of Collins allows Ferrell to remain cemented at his position. Ferrell was seen bouncing between defensive end and defensive tackle throughout the season, which never really allowed him to put up the stats fans expected from a fourth overall draft pick. The timing is perfect for Ferrell. He enjoyed a year to adjust and practice at an NFL caliber. Also, opposing team’s offensive lines will be busy with his other three counterparts. As a result, this potentially leaves Ferrell in one-on-one situations at the line.
Moving outside, in a stacked-box, run-stopping situation, the Raiders feature Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Nicholas Morrow. Some may not be as high on Littleton and Kwiatkoski, but expectations are high for the former free agent duo. The sky should be the limit for these seven on defense. Some may have noticed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers boast the best run defense in the league for a majority of the season while being slightly uninspiring, but certainly entertaining, on the offensive side.
Las Vegas, at the very least, should be a top 10 defense overall. However, this defense should be led by their run stopping abilities. Without getting carried away, the Raiders certainly have the potential to be a top 10 team as a whole, but defense seems more of a guarantee. The Raiders’ defensive back situation is not exactly as straightforward as the defensive line and linebackers, but this is where the defensive line can help out. Constant pressure on a quarterback can act as an extra defensive back. By not allowing plays to develop or preventing opposing quarterbacks from getting comfortable, -the rush takes shape.
Make no mistake, the Raiders do have a talented defensive back corps, but rookies can rise to stardom and mix up the depth chart, looking at you Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson. It feels as though the Raiders have not had a truly dominant defense since Charles Woodson left, and even then there were still more gaps than one might expect. The Raiders return to glory starts with defense and it starts in 2020.