Oakland Raiders Players Set For Big 2015 Seasons

7 of 11

Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is pressured by Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Justin Ellis (78) at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Ellis

With all the 3-4 defensive coordinators they’ve been talking to lately, I expect the Raiders to switch to the 3-4 because it fits nose tackle Justin Ellis. Ellis was quite a find by McKenzie in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and would be better used over the center. He is a space-eater that can’t be moved and has some surprising athleticism that makes him a good pass-rusher for his size too.

But above all, Ellis is a 3-gap nose tackle that would soak up double and triple-teams, leaving inside linebackers free to  run to the ball. He is to the defense what Jackson is to the offense—he gives the Raiders the size and power to make their  movement to play smash-mouth football. Once the Raiders get some decent inside linebackers and (hopefully) draft Leonard Williams from USC, opposing teams won’t be able to run the ball.

From watching Ellis in his rookie season, I can see he’s going to be an elite nose tackle in the NFL. I want to project him as elite next year because he was good this year despite the average grade ESPN and Pro Football Focus gave him. But I’m going to go ahead and say he’ll be a better version of good instead of elite in 2015.

Next: Khalil Mack