Oakland Raiders: 5 Reasons the Defensive Front Will Be Better in 2011

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Oakland Raiders: 5 Reasons the Defensive Front Will Be Better in 2011
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Tommy Kelly does his best Richard Seymour impression

The Oakland Raiders defensive front has been, for want of a better term, a bit of a revolving door in recent years. The turnstile-like personnel and run defense that has plagued them since the 2002 season has been a major factor in the team's overall struggle to win games.

In 2009, the Raiders made a huge, surprising move about a week before the season, trading their 2011 first-round draft pick—which ended up being the No. 18 selection that was used to take Colorado tackle Nate Solder—to the New England Patriots for six-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour.

Because it was the Raiders, when Seymour didn't report immediately, there was rampant speculation and not-so-subtle laughter from the media that Oakland had wasted the trade and he would refuse to report.

In reality, Seymour is a stand-up family man who was simply in South Carolina getting his kids ready for school. He was ready, willing and able to report to the Raiders, and once he did, he made an immediate impact.

Seymour sacked Philip Rivers twice in his opening game as a Raider, setting the tone for the leadership, play and intensity he was bringing to this team.

Ever since, Seymour has evolved as a team leader, fostering a new attitude on the defense. His professionalism and work ethic have also helped to get the best out of some of his counterparts who occasionally take a play or two off—like Tommy Kelly.

This Raider defensive front can rush the passer. They ranked second in the NFL in sacks last season, so getting to the quarterback isn't the problem; but they still struggled to stop the run.

This year, things will change up front. With Seymour and Kelly bolstered by young talent like Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, Trevor Scott and Rolando McClain, the sky is the limit for this unit.

Here are a few reasons why.

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