Oakland Raiders: Position Breakdown and Depth-Chart Analysis at Defensive End

The Oakland Raiders defensive ends are essential in providing help for a young, inexperienced secondary.

For the Raiders, quarterback pressure becomes a vital tool in defeating quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning, who are accurate pocket-passing statues.

Both Manning and Rivers have mastered the art of getting rid of the football quickly behind stout offensive lines built to stifle the pass rush.

Unfortunately, the Raiders' starting defensive ends lack the willpower to dominate rival offensive lines. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. must use clever schemes to create mismatches in efforts to win battles in the trenches.

What's the outlook of this position in both the short and long term? Let’s start with veteran defensive end Justin Tuck.


What Does Tuck Have in the Tank?

The good news is Tuck enters another contract year and needs to perform at optimum levels to secure another solid deal in the offseason. Tuck's last contract year, 2013, was by far his best year in recent memory.

Tuck’s non-contract years are worrisome. His snaps and sacks on the quarterback take a significant dip. Yes, he may revert back to his hungrier days with the New York Giants in short stints, but the Raiders face major problems going forward if his replacement isn’t poised to takeover. Can Tuck replicate his performance from 2013?

From a coaching perspective, snap count versus development becomes an interesting dilemma. Should Norton give Tuck 800-plus snaps in the hopes of reaping the benefits of his last hurrah, or should he alternate the younger defensive ends at a higher frequency to develop talent during the season?

Don’t expect another double-digit sack season from the 10-year veteran. In 2015, mentoring the incoming rookies may be his most valuable asset. Tuck should contribute a handful...

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