Oakland Raiders: Defensive Tackle Concerns Still Remain

David WilsonCorrespondent IJune 7, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Tommy Kelly #93 and Gerard Warren #61 of the Oakland Raiders react after the Cincinnati Bengals scored a touchdown at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders have probably had as good an off-season as any team in the league, and went some way to addressing their "line of scrimmage issues," as described by coach Tom Cable.

Though one position that remains a problem is defensive tackle.

The release of Gerard Warren was something that we knew would happen, and though many thought that the selection of Lamarr Houston in the second round of this year's draft would help address this issue, we were later told he would be playing at defensive end.

With Richard Seymour still listed at end, and Matt Shaugnessy playing well at that position too, the future at defensive end seems bright. But with tackle... not so good.

When you look at the defensive tackles on the Raiders roster, it clearly shows the importance that Oakland have put on this area in recent years.

Out of the four players likely to make the roster (you can pretty much count out Chris Cooper and Ryan Boschetti), three are undrafted free agents (Kelly, Bryant, Heard), and one was an unrestricted free agent signed from another team to a veteran minimum contract (Joseph).

That does not bode well for the middle of the line.

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Now Tom cable did suggest he had a 'secret weapon' in the run defense, which many have presumed to be the 6'5", 355-pound Kellen Heard from Memphis. But any team that puts their hopes for run defense on an undrafted rookie is likely to get a rude awakening in the NFL.

Having drafted Rolando McLain at middle linebacker in the first round, you need to give him a line to play behind.  It seems a little like drafting a quarterback first overall and having no offensive line to protect him (don't get me started).

Whilst I am not writing Kellen Heard off, he is at best a gamble. Quite a good gamble actually, as it will cost just a minimum salary if he fails. But you don't base your run defense on a gamble.

I was praying for the Raiders to take Cam Thomas when he was still available in the fifth round of this year's draft, but we passed him up. A big space-eating tackle was just what we needed.

He is currently making a very good impression in the Chargers OTA's, and the decision not to take him is one we may regret.

The logical move for me to help fix the problem is to move Richard Seymour to tackle which would give the line more balance, but the Raiders clearly have a plan an are going to stick to it.

I just see the lack of talent and depth at defensive tackle hurting this team more than anything else in 2010.

I hope I'm wrong.

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