Will the Lack of DT Depth Be the Oakland Raiders' Achilles Heel in 2009?

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IAugust 29, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13:  Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by Thomas Howard #53 and Ricky Brown #57 of the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter during the preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 13, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Reminiscent of a cold that you just can’t seem to shake, similar to having a sheet of flypaper stuck to your hand, the Oakland Raiders can’t dodge the fact that they’ve had great difficulty stopping the run for the past six years quickly going on seven.

Oakland has surrendered 150+ rushing yards per game, on average, for the better part of the last six years. To ask what is the problem or what has gone wrong are questions that are too obvious to ask.

The message to the new defensive coordinator couldn’t have been spelled out clearer: stop the run and get after the quarterback. It is way too early to say that they’ve failed because they haven’t. I applauded the selection of John Marshall and Dwaine Board as defensive line coach but these guys weren’t given the tools to succeed.

Defensive tackle is a position of need that has been neglected in the draft by Oakland for far too long. 2009 has started and this team needs two defensive tackles in the 2010 draft.

The last time the Raiders were stout up the middle against the run was 2002. I hate to have to call anyone out but we as Raider fans knew that this was a major area of need, that it had to be addressed and that the two best defensive tackles on the team were Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren.

Tommy Kelly is a talented DT who gets double teamed on almost every play. I'm tired of seeing him getting up off of the ground and if he had some help in terms depth at the position this could change.

The blame has to be placed at the doorstep of Al Davis for consistently not addressing this position in the draft. As a Raiders fan I have also been a fan of Al Davis however there is no excuse for this happening.

The importance of the position has been overlooked, the idea of drawing a line in the sand and making a definitive stand on correcting this error has been put on the back burner for over a decade and it continues to be a major weakness.

When you talk of improving any team the first thing that needs to happen would be to improve the defense. Oakland has gone through another draft where the defensive tackle position wasn’t addressed, again, and it has been the Achilles heel for the Raiders as well as the reason for their demise.

The last five defensive tackles drafted by Oakland were Anttaj Hawthorne (2005), Junior Ioane (2000), Leon Bender (1998), Darrell Russell (1997), and Grady Jackson (1997).