11 most important Oakland Raiders defensive players in 2017

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders won 12 games last season, but it was not thanks to their No. 26 ranked defense. They took the bend don’t break mantra seriously often waiting for Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack to save the day by forcing a turnover.

However, they will need to improve mightily on defense this season if they want to build on last year’s success.

Here are the 11 most important Raiders on defense for 2017.

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Photo via Steve Cheng

No. 11 – DT Eddie Vanderdoes

Oakland struggled last season getting any interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they racked up just three sacks from the defensive tackle position.

Now, the two players who had those three sacks, former Raiders defensive tackles Dan Williams and Stacy McGee, are now gone.

With that being said, Raiders defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who has shown to have an inside push, will need to be effective to help improve upon last year’s weakness in the middle.

No. 10 – CB Sean Smith

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith was often torched last season for chunk plays, but still, put up an impressive Pro Football Focus player grade of 83.4.

One must not look at the PFF grade and think the position is under lock, however, Smith was not as bad as people thought last season.

As long as Oakland can find a productive nickel corner to matchup with the smaller and quicker players, then Smith will be just fine serving a significant role in the defense.

 

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Photo via USA Today Sports Images

 

No. 9 – DE Mario Edwards Jr.

Without Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith, Oakland doesn’t have an elite pass rusher to compliment Mack. Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin is solid, but he isn’t a dominant pass rushing force.

Therefore, Oakland would benefit mightily if Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has a bounceback season. He can help stop the run early, but, most importantly, can assist the pass rush by sliding inside to free the outside up for Mack and Irvin.

No. 8 – S Reggie Nelson

Raiders safety Reggie Nelson had another impressive season hauling in five interceptions.

With Oakland’s defense expected to be improved, but not elite, Nelson’s presence will tell me very important. They will need him to continue to force turnovers and also be a veteran presence with a large number of defensive rookies coming into the fold in 2017.

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Photo via Eric Risberg / AP Photo

No. 7 – LB Bruce Irvin

Currently, Irvin is the second best pass rusher on the team behind Mack and is vital to the team’s success.

The more pressure he creates, the harder it is for teams to double and triple-team Mack. The less double teams Mack has to face, the easier it will be for Mack to wreak havoc.

No. 6 – S Karl Joseph

Oakland’s defense struggled against the run last year ranking No. 23 in the NFL.

With no middle linebacker replacement in sight, there could be a lot of free running backs hitting the second level in 2017. Therefore, it is essential for Raiders safety Karl Joseph to be the hard hitting and sure-tackling safety that he is known to be.

If he isn’t, then a lot of running backs will be taken their second-level runs to the end zone.

(No. 5- No. 1 next page)

Raiders 53-man roster projection 1.0: Defense

The article can be found on the Raiders Wire!


With the bulk of NFL free agency over and the Oakland Raiders already putting their rookie NFL draft selections to work the 2017, the time for depth chart evaluation is already in full swing.

Here is a look at the first 53-man roster projection of the offseason for the Raiders.

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Photo via KYLE TERADA-USA TODAY SPORTS

Interior Defenders (8)

Defensive tackles: Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Treyvon Hester, Darius Latham

Defensive ends: Mario Edwards Jr., Jihad Ward, Denico Autry, Branden Jackson

The Raiders have a young defensive line that should yield many interesting training camp battles this offseason.

Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. will be returning after missing the majority of last season due to a hip injury, and is expected to make a major impact stopping the run and also freeing up holes for Oakland pass rushers to roam free.

Meanwhile, fellow Raiders defensive end Jihad Ward bulked up this offseason, Justin Ellis and Denico Autry should both see some decent run in 2017 on the interior and edges respectively.

Raiders rookie defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes should find himself competing for snaps against Ellis, fellow rookie DT Treyvon Hester and Darius Latham this season — with each making the roster out of training camp.

(edge defenders)

Raiders’ Bruce Irvin takes shot at Marquette King on Twitter

Photo via Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin has never been shy to voice his opinion, even when it involves another teammate.

Just recently, Irvin was jokingly asked a question on whether he would play both sides of the football this season, and he chose to respond by taking a shot at Raiders punter Marquette King.

Irvin’s subliminal tweet (and supposed beef) towards/with King is likely related to the Raiders punter taking a photo with Denver Broncos rival cornerback Aqib Talib.

Talib pulling on King’s chain above is making light of Talib ripping off Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s chain in the team’s Week 17 matchup with the AFC West crown was on the line.

Many of Raider Nation, including Irvin, did not like the gesture. Shortly thereafter, King offered his reply.

While the banter likely doesn’t mean much, most of the reaction from Raider Nation was in staunch support of Irvin.


The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!