Oakland Raiders Look Like a 3-4 Defense Based on Actions in Free Agency

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIMarch 16, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gets dragged down by Rolando McClain #55 of the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter of their NFL football game at O.co Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Buccaneers won the game 42-32. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders have been teasing a possible switch in their base defense for a couple of years now.

Back in 2010, Al Davis traded for Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves, both outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense, yet the Raiders kept a 4-3 base defense.  

Then in 2012, Reggie McKenzie hired Dennis Allen as head coach.  Allen has a history with the 3-4 base and so does his defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver.

Now, it appears that the stars have aligned in Oakland for the switch to the 3-4 if free agency is any indicator of the team's plans.

The Raiders are reportedly looking at adding another linebacker in Kevin Burnett, according to ESPN's Bill Williamson.  The Raiders have already added Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava in the past week.  The Raiders still have Miles Burris, who played well in his rookie season, as the weak-side linebacker. 

Although the Raiders have not yet signed Burnett and it is possible he won't be an Oakland Raider next year, it is a sign that the team is still looking at more linebackers.  

Along with the additions of linebackers, there is also the subtraction of defensive linemen.  The Raiders have lost Matt Shaughnessy, Dave Tollefson and Richard Seymour.  The Raiders could also cut Tommy Kelly and leave just Pat Sims and Christo Bilukidi as their only defensive tackles.

Also worth noticing is that the Raiders have not yet released Rolando McClain.  McClain has been problematic on and off the field since the Raiders used the eighth overall pick on him in 2010.  However, McClain was a star in college where he played inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.  


Not releasing Tommy Kelly could also be another sign of the Raiders' plans. Last year, Dennis Allen said he could picture Kelly as a nose tackle in the 3-4 defense.

If the Raiders switch to the 3-4, their starting lineup could look like this: Kelly, Lamarr Houston and Pat Sims as the linemen with McClain, Burris, Roach and Maiava or Burnett (if he signs with Oakland) as the linebackers.

This could finally be the year that the Raiders cut their longstanding ties with the 4-3 base and switch to the 3-4 defense.