The Oakland Raiders defense last year was, to say the least, one of the worst in the league. To go along with that, they were the most penalized squad in the league.
With the new front office and coaching staff, they are looking to change all of this by hiring Dennis Allen, the first defensive-minded coach Oakland has had since John Madden.
The Raiders added Jason Tarver, ex-defensive coordinator at Stanford, as well as free agents on defense in Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, David Tollefson, Phillip Wheeler and draft picks Miles Burris, Jack Crawford, Christo Bilukidi and Nate Stupar.
In this article I break down what I think the defense needs to add before the start of the season.
Depth at Middle Linebacker
Oakland's starting MLB Rolando McClain was charged and sentenced to 180 days in jail for assault charges stemming from last year (he appealed and the case is going to a jury trial), meaning his status in terms of suspension is up in the air.
Behind McClain, the Raiders have Travis Goethel, drafted in 2010 the same year as McClain, but has been injury-plagued in his first two seasons in the NFL and Nate Stupar, a seventh-round draft pick this year out of Penn State.
Possible additions: EJ Henderson, Gary Brackett, Xavier Adibi and Stephen Cooper.
Which of the three do you think needs to be addressed first?
A Speed Pass-Rusher
The Raiders will be running a multiple-front defense this year, using 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. While they have good defensive ends in Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy, neither of them are noted as speed-rushers, but more as run stopping power rushers.
In 3-4 sets the Raiders have possible speed-rushers in Miles Burris and Kaelin Burnett, but they are rookies and still need to learn nuances of playing in NFL.
Possible additions: Andre Carter, Jarvis Moss and Aaron Kampman.
Some Depth at Defensive Tackle
The Raiders have two very good defensive tackles in Tommy Kelly (led team in sacks last year with 7.5) and Richard Seymour. Behind them, they don't have much depth other then underrated player Desmond Bryant, one-year player Jason Cumbie and rookies Chris Bilukidi and Dominique Hamilton.
It'd be good to add some rotation just to keep vets fresh and give the rookie time to learn.
Possible Additions: Kelly Gregg (can play NT), Marcus Thomas and Igor Olshanksy (can play 5-tech).
The defense overall could use some depth but these are the three that stand out to me. While I have noted possible additions, I think Reggie McKenzie will be waiting on the cuts to pick up the players he wants.
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