The defensive line of the Las Vegas Raiders has gone through some significant changes this offseason with a new regime at the helm. Perhaps defensive tackle Kendal Vickers will get some benefit from these changes.
As it currently stands ahead of this month’s NFL draft, the Raiders’ defensive line will look different come training camp. We all know that the team moved on from Yannick Ngakoue, but the line’s interior has gone through some stark changes. Most notably gone is Solomon Thomas, who turned around his career in Las Vegas.
One name that had a surprising impact in 2021 was Vickers, and he figures to be in competition for playing time this season.
Vickers was a late-season promotion to the team but managed to make his presence known, especially in run defense. With Johnathan Hankins coming back, we could likely see an inside duo of Hankins and Vickers, depending on which play they make, obviously. Interestingly enough, there isn’t much in the way of an established pass rush from the Raiders’ current crop of inside defenders.
As the Athletic’s Tashan Reed pointed out, only Bilal Nichols has at least three sacks to his credit from last year in the current group. However, give credit where it’s due: the Raiders assembled their defensive line last offseason mostly on the backs of one-year deals.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s unit is going through another makeover.
Raiders could lean on Vickers more in 2022
The former Tennessee Volunteer made the most of his playing time in 2020. Many in Raider Nation recall his efforts during Weeks 14 and 15 versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins. He accumulated two sacks and three tackles for loss in those games. It should be worth noting that Vickers’ Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade was 63.9 that year.
On Friday, the Las Vegas Raiders announced the signings of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, and quarterback Nick Mullens. Learn more about the two.
With Patrick Graham coming in and reorganizing the Raiders’ defensive front, he’ll likely lean on Hankins as his primary defensive tackle. Vickers will certainly get his shot after going down with an injury, and if healthy, he’ll be in play for snaps during camp.