Oakland Raiders no longer same old losing franchise

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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

Interior D-Line

The Raiders started out with Antonio Smith and Pat Sims as their interior defensive linemen last year. And they started out getting gutted too, giving up long runs up the middle to the New York Jets and Arian Foster’s Houston Texans. Then they threw Justin Ellis out there for Sims and the run defense improved.

Smith was pretty good at one time but the sun has set on his career so an upgrade was needed there. That was addressed this offseason, when the Raiders picked up Arizona Cardinals DT Dan Williams, a dominant run-stuffer. So when opposing teams run the ball against the Raiders this year, it won’t be as easy as it used to be.

Ellis showed some surprising pass-rushing ability while Williams was a two-down player last year. But when opposing teams pass with the Raiders in their base defense, they’ll push the pocket. The Raiders haven’t stopped the run since 2002 but with upgrades to the interior defensive line, they’ll do just that as well as pushing the pocket as the Oakland defensive interior looks as good as ever on paper.

Next: Edge-Rusher