Las Vegas Raiders: How much can the defense improve in 2023?

Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Entering year two of Patrick Graham's leadership, the Raiders defense will be under a microscope and criticism all season long.

In 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders defense was a mess. They helped blow leads and had one memorable play that won them a game in fluky fashion. They ranked near the bottom of the league in total yardage and points per game allowed. Minnesota had a worse defense than the Raiders and they still found a way to win their division and make the playoffs, so they proved that it can be done.

For starters, the defensive line's pass rush is a three-man gang. They only managed 27 sacks a year ago, which was third worst behind Chicago and Atlanta. Those numbers should go up with Tyree Wilson in the fold.

How much better can the Raiders defense be in 2023?

The defensive tackles are young and promising. Byron Young could start down the road. Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler will get more opportunities to crack the lineup, and even Nesta Jade Silvera will get a lot of time in the preseason.

They were about in the middle of the pack in rushing yards given up and Jerry Tillery will be pushed for his job everyday.

At linebacker, there's no superstar, but that won't stop this core. In the Pittsburgh loss last season Robert Spillane got noticed by Dave Zeigler with a 12 total tackle performance. It was the most he had all season long.

Trading Josh Jacobs for a linebacker like Devin White would help this unit immensely and upgrade the defense as a whole. It's something that probably won't happen, but worthy enough to keep tabs on as the season gets closer.

The corners are guys who will compete, but are still missing one big piece. Only Detroit, Minnesota and Tennessee were ranked lower than the Raiders in pass defense. Being in a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson is intimidating. A Marcus Peters signing really wouldn't do much to change that theory either.

The safety position is arguably the most improved on the entire defense. Marcus Epps and Christopher Smith guided their respective defenses to the top of their sport. Both played for championships. Smith was a draft steal and Epps was the best free agent signing for Patrick Graham. Tre'von Moehrig might find himself as a cap casualty if he doesn't show up consistently.

Next. Predictions for all 17 2023 Raiders games. dark

Getting the defense to rise from the ashes to at least the middle of the league can keep them in the playoff hunt. That's where Kansas City was last year and they have about as much talent as the Raiders do on their hands. Overachieving is a must for this group to improve and become a legit postseason contender.