Possible DC Candidates With NFL Experience for the Oakland Raiders

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Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio at press conference to announce his hiring as Oakland Raiders head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Raider fans and media are still waiting with baited breath to hear who the next Defensive Coordinator of the Oakland Raiders will be. Last night, when it was announced that former Del Rio assistant and current Florida State DE’s coach Sal Sunseri had been hired by the Raiders, many assumed that he was being tapped as the new DC – a move that was universally panned since his only year as a DC, with the Tennessee Volunteers, was the worst defensive season in school history. But it appears now that Sunseri has been added to the staff as a defensive line or linebackers assistant, meaning the Defensive Coordinator position is still in the air.

Mike Smith has been the front-runner for the position since Jack Del Rio was hired. Smith, who had most recently been the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons (the winningest coach in that franchise’s history), had been Del Rio’s defensive coordinator for five years in Jacksonville, and coached alongside him on the Ravens’ defensive staff prior to that.

Smith has been interviewed for the position, but many media sources say it is more likely he will sit out a year and weigh his options rather than return immediately to coaching after a seven-year run as the head man in Atlanta.

Eric Mangini was also interviewed for the position, but has accepted the defensive coordinator position in San Francisco, where he spent the last year as the Tight Ends coach.  Mangini was an accomplished defensive assistant under Bill Belichick in New England, but had two failed stints as a head coach in New York and Cleveland in which he developed a bad reputation.  Del Rio and he likely didn’t have much in common.

Del Rio, who is a defensive coach who spent four seasons as a DC, including the past three in Denver, may decide to act as the team’s de facto defensive coordinator and hire an inexperienced NFL or college assistant coach to fill the position on paper and handle some of the more basic functions.  This would mean that nearly any defensive coach on the continent is a candidate for the job.  That said, Del Rio has already added one of his previous assistants to a position coaching job, indicating that he’d prefer to fill the defensive staff with experienced coaches whom he knows. This gives yours truly a short list to work from:

Note: There have been reports that Del Rio may be interested in a college coordinator, but this list of candidates all could do an admirable job in Oakland if hired. At this point, nobody knows what Del Rio will do heading into the weekend until reports of interviews surface out of the Bay Area.

Next: Candidate #1: Mike Trgovac