So many questions surrounded the Oakland Raiders during the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Many predicted that the Raiders would select defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, out of the University of Florida, in order to address the losses of Matt Shaughnessy, Tommy Kelly, and Richard Seymour. However, the Raiders passed on him and Floyd is now a Minnesota Viking. So, did the Raiders address their defensive line in the off-season?
Believe it or not, the Raiders actually did address their defensive line in the off-season. No big name players were picked up, but good, sound fundamental defensive linemen were brought in from the free agent wire, two were selected in the NFL Draft, and there were undrafted free agents as well. The following is a list of players brought in to fill the holes at defensive line:
- Free Agents: DT-Vance Walker, DT-Pat Sims, and DE-Jason Hunter.
- Undrafted Rookie Free Agents: DT-Kurt Taufa’asau, and DE-Ryan Robinson.
- Drafted Rookies: DT-Stacy McGee, and DE-David Bass.
- Players from 2012: DE-Andre Carter, DE-Lamarr Houston, DT-Christo Bilukidi, DE-Jack Crawford, and DE-Brandon Bair.
Obviously, most of these players are unproven. However, let’s take a look at the players who can make an immediate impact; Defensive ends Andre Carter and Lamarr Houston are two veteran players who have had success at their respective positions. Carter will be called upon to help provide the younger players with a veterans approach to preparing for football games. Houston is poised to step up and be the leader on the defensive line, and it is his time to be a top edge rusher in the NFL. Defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi and defensive end Jack Crawford are in their second year under Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver’s defense. Though Bilukidi and Crawford were raw in 2012, they should be able to step up and become starters.
Defensive tackles Vance Walker and Pat Sims are two players who are expected to make the most impact on the defensive line. Walker was a starter for his team (Atlanta Falcons), and Sims was used primarily to rest the starters (Cincinnati Bengals). Both have had success in the NFL. Walker played in 16 games and started 9 of them in 2012. He had 32 tackles and 3 sacks for the Atlanta Falcons. Sims played in 8 games in 2012. He had 17 tackles for the Cincinnati Bengals before getting injured.
Defensive end Jason Hunter has been a journeyman in the NFL. He has played for the Green Bay Packers (2006-2008), Detroit Lions (2009), and Denver Broncos (2010-2011). He is a versatile player who can play the defensive end position or drop back as an outside linebacker. He tore his triceps muscle prior to the 2012 season. As a result, he took a year off to recover and prepare for the 2013 season. More than likely, he could be useful as a rotational player to allow the starters to get some rest during the game.
With the exception of Houston, Carter, and Walker, this is a virtually unknown defensive line. For most of the players on the line, it comes down to development. New Defensive Line Coach Terrell Williams has his work cut out for him. If he can do what he did for the Texas A&M Aggies, this defensive line will thrive in 2013 and hush its critics. It will be interesting to see what happens in Pre-season. That’s where we will see the cream begin to rise to the top.