Oakland Raiders Just a Defensive Line Away from Relevance

If general manager Reggie Mckenzie wants to improve the outlook of the Oakland Raiders franchise, he must address the defensive line.

Mckenzie had the right idea when signing free agents Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith and C.J. Wilson, but the trio hasn’t fulfilled expectations needed to solidify the front line.

Rookie nose tackle Justin Ellis is the only player on the defensive line drafted by Oakland, and that needs to change by the 2015 draft.

Both Tuck and Smith are under contract until 2016 with guaranteed money. When Wilson’s contract expires after this season, the Raiders should strongly consider drafting defensive tackle Leonard Williams from the University of Southern California. The pick would allow Smith to move back to his natural position at defensive end.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller suggested standout offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi for the Raiders in a mock draft. However, Donald Penn has played well at left tackle.

Oakland’s offensive line is one of the best in the NFL at protecting the quarterback in terms of sacks allowed. Rookie signal-caller Derek Carr has only been sacked seven times this season, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Reggie Mackenzie needs to address a more dire need on the team.

The Raiders have the most futile defensive line in the league. A formidable defensive front is marked by sacks—being able to rush the quarterback and run defense.

Oakland ranks 26th in rush defense, giving up 130.1 yards per game. Pressure up front is virtually nonexistent, recording only seven sacks this season. If the Silver and Black cannot win battles in the trenches, opposing quarterbacks will continue to have an excess of time and space needed to pick apart the defensive backs.

According to CBSSports.com, Williams is currently ranked as the second-best overall player in the ...

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