Oakland Raiders 2015 Preseason Primer

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May 8, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (97) at rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

When the Raiders drafted Mario Edwards I was quite shocked. When they announced after his phone conference that he would be playing the Leo spot, I nearly passed out. Luckily for my personal health, someone reminded The Raider defensive staff that Mack is a really good pass rusher and weighs 265 pounds, while Edwards is a physical freak that weighs 275 pounds.

In short, Mack is Leo and Edwards is the strong side defensive end. This is precisely the run down combo I expect. We may see Tuck to start the year or even start games, but I think Edwards will see more snaps at that spot than Tuck will in order to keep him spry.

Jack Del Rio ran a 4-3 system with two nose tackles in Baltimore and Jacksonville. When he was in Denver he used more of a traditional 4-3 Under with a typical 3-tech (Warren Sapp type) to create penetration. With his defensive tackle options being Williams and Ellis, I expect him to play a modified version of the Seattle 4-3 Under. They will use a three tech defensive tackle, however rather than penetrate to create mismatches, they will use that guy to eat space and use up two blockers.

The effect is essentially the same. It creates one on one matches outside and with two big space eaters inside the numbers could really help the Raiders. In nickel, I would expect some variation of the front four being Mack and Moore at the ends and Edwards and Tuck inside. The only way the Raiders can expect to win any significant amount of games is by producing a pass rush. Their young defensive backs will be able to excel if it happens. This means defensive lineman need to account for 25 or more sacks.

Next: Preseason Primer: Linebackers