Oakland Raiders Likely to Add Edge Rusher In Draft


Mar 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio (left) and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis attend NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to 2015 NFL Free Agency the bulk end of the acquisitions being made across the league has stalled to a lull as with the NFL Owners Meetings taking place in Arizona the once busy sweepstakes are now all but over with most starting caliber free agent talents now on new teams with March coming to a close. Teams now left with primarily a handful of past their prime players or players with injury issues looking to get their last chance in the league, making for a boring part of the offseason.

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However the end of the peak season of free agency has returned a focus to the 2015 NFL Draft for teams as the topic of team needs was an expectedly popular topic during the coach’s interviews with media at the NFL Owners Meetings. Reporters quick to ask head coaches where they want their general managers to add talent making for interest nuggets of quotes throughout the league this week to see where the minds on the sideline feel their teams need to improve.

The Raiders were no different as Bay Area media held court with Jack Del Rio over breakfast this week, the new Oakland head coach identifying some of the key areas that the team needs to get better in if they want to turn the roster around from 3-13 to becoming a more competitive football team in 2015.

One of the areas Del Rio keyed on was pass rusher, a spot where the Raiders have a mix of young talent in Khalil Mack and Sio Moore at outside linebacker in addition to the veteran future Hall of Famer in Justin Tuck at defensive end. Benson Mayowa was also a great steal from the Seattle Seahawks practice squad in 2014, but the feeling is still there that the team could use one more dominant pass rusher to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

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That feeling the team needs one more talented edge player on defense was something that Del Rio agreed with. The new head coach praising his one elite edge player in Khalil Mack while hinting that he hopes to potentially add another player to the opposite side of the line of scrimmage to compliment the 2014 Draft’s fifth overall selection.

“Khalil’s talent is obvious,” Del Rio said at the owners meetings to Bay Area media members who were in attendance this week. “We really feel like getting another edge rusher opposite him who has similar characteristics, ability, speed and athleticism will be important for us going forward.”

Pairing one of the top edge rushers in the draft with Mack brings interesting names in the first round such as Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, and Randy Gregory sit atop of the defensive end/outside pass rusher board on most draft rankings and all could form a dynamic duo with Mack. Throw in the presence of a still dangerous legendary talent in Tuck along with Mayowa for depth and you have a pass rush rotation that could stand up with most in the league in terms of ability.

However there is a pull for wideout in the first round and a pass rusher in the later rounds, something that will give the Raiders less bang for their buck at whichever position they are forced to pass up on with their fourth overall pick. Fans divided in which route they feel is best almost as much as the front office may be in deciding which position of need they will look after with their top pick.

Regardless of where in the draft a pass rusher is taken, Del Rio is hoping that Reggie McKenzie and his scouting staff find a player who can pair with their already top level franchise pass rusher in Mack for the future in Oakland. Needing to get one of the best defensive ends on the board, the Raiders may have to commit a high pick to the position if they want Del Rio’s wishes to become reality.

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