Outside of Jamarcus Russell's maturity and pass protection from the offensive line, nothing perplexes the rest of what is called the Raider Nation as does the situation with the run defense. It is common knowledge the key to stopping the run starts with the defensive line.
All critics have stated time and time again the team passed up worthy run stoppers in the past draft. It is almost Napa time and although more optimism is high for the defense overall, becoming a championship defense in Oakland will demand the signing of a free agent nose tackle.
I am sure Bleacher Report readers viewed the article predicting the defensive tackles will step up this year. This article isn't to bash them by any means. I really like the top three guys on the depth chart because their skills compliment each other very well. The dilemma the Raiders have is the fact that Terdell Sands happens to be the one true Nose Tackle on the squad.
Tommy Kelly played nose tackle in 2006, and it was determined that wasn't the best spot for him to succeed. Gerard Warren played nose tackle last season, but is a much better pass rusher than he is a run stopper. William Joseph is a first round bust, but isn't a nose tackle either, Ryan Boschetti is known for his hard nose play, but can you count on him if one of the starters goes down to injury?
With such a limited free agent pool for quality nose tackles, the Raiders will be forced to make some difficult decisions in the next few weeks. Hollis Thomas has been mentioned on this site and seems like a logical choice, but the Raiders will be better served if a younger veteran gets cut in training camp.
Even if Terdell steps up like I expect him to, a valuable pickup to help plug the holes is mandatory. I'm willing to bet Al Davis doesn't make a move unless an unexpected release happens before September.
The hope for many is that Oakland's run issues will not be discussed next summer. Regardless of what sort of production is seen this season, next year's draft will demand a selection of a nose tackle to anchor the defense for the next decade.
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