The Raiders were among the worst in the league at stopping the run in 2009, ranking 29th and surrendering 155.5 yards per game. This is a familiar weakness to Raider Nation as the Raiders ranked in the bottom five in rushing defense in 2007 and 2008. In fact, the Raiders rushing defense hasn’t ranked higher than 22nd since 2002, with the worst season coming in 2003.
The Raiders front 7 has evolved during that time. In 2003 the Raiders aging front 7 was exposed when the offense could no longer carry the team.
The Raiders didn’t sit idle in trying to address the needs along the front 7. In fact, the Raiders tried to plug the holes with a key individual here and there without much success.
Draft Tyler Brayton (pick 32 overall)
Sign Warren Sapp (Pro Bowler)
UFA Tommy Kelly
Sign Derrick Burgess (Pro Bowler)
Draft Kirk Morrison (pick 78 overall)
Draft Thomas Howard (pick 38 overall)
Trade for Gerrard Warren
Draft Jay Richardson (pick 138 overall)
Draft Trevor Scott (pick 169 overall)
Draft Matt Shaughnessy (pick 71 overall)
Trade for Richard Seymour (for a 2011 1st round pick, Pro bowler)
Sign Greg Ellis (Pro Bowler
Trade for Kamerion Wimbley (2010 3rd round pick)
Cut Greg Ellis
Cut Gerrard Warren
RFA Original Pick Tender Kirk Morrison
RFA 2nd Round Tender Thomas Howard (could have saved money tendering him at original round without repercussion)
RFA 2nd Round Tender Ricky Brown
The Raiders are clearly showing a motivation in the past two seasons to right the ship. John Marshall was brought in as the defensive coordinator in 2009 along with Mike Haluchak to coach the linebackers. Mike Waufle was brought in to coach the defensive line for the 2010 season.
The Raiders front seven currently consists of:
OLB Thomas Howard*
ST Sam Williams
MLB Kirk Morrison*
MLB/SLB Ricky Brown*
OLB David Nixon
ST Isaiah Ekejiuba
SLB Slade Norris
SLB/DE Kamerion Wimbley*
DE/DT Richard Seymour*
DE Matt Shaughnessy*
DE Jay Richardson
OLB/DE Trevor Scott*
DE Greyson Gunheim
DT Tommy Kelly*
DT Desmond Bryant*
DT/ST William Joseph
* Indicates Projected Starter or key reserve
The Raiders front seven is strong on the edges, but week in the middle. Morrison may not be a Raider and Ricky Brown hardly inspires confidence as a MLB.
Desmond Bryant probably isn’t ready to be the starting Nose Guard, who is the defensive tackle most responsible for stopping the run.
The Raiders are probably considering one or both positions in the upcoming draft. I believe the Raiders are more likely to spend a high pick on a defensive tackle than a middle linebacker if history is a guide. I also believe the coaching staff is decently satisfied with Ricky Brown taking over for Kirk Morrison.