The Las Vegas Raiders need help on defense, but let’s take a look at a more plausible scenario considering how the offseason might unfold.
The Raiders proved they’re willing to invest in the defense when they signed Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton in 2020. They should keep investing in the unit and pursue an upper-tier interior defensive lineman this offseason. At number 17 in this year’s draft, Las Vegas could pick between two highly touted defenders. Both linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and defensive tackle Christian Barmore would be solid choices. However, the Raiders’ offensive line also needs attention.
Right tackle Trent Brown’s tenure with the Silver and Black may be all but over. The Raiders would have some much-needed cap space by releasing him but they’d have a massive hole afterward. Also, veteran guard Richie Incognito could also be a cap casualty. Both players were hindered by injuries and other issues in 2020, so this would leave the unit with major deficiencies. If the team can re-sign Denzelle Good, he can hold down either the left guard or right tackle spot. So how would this affect the team’s strategy moving forward?
A plausible but unpopular Raider’s two-round mock scenario
Alijah Vera-Tucker, Interior Offensive Lineman, USC, Round 1
Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest, Round 2
It all starts in the trenches when it comes to the NFL and 2021 shouldn’t be any different. If you’re strictly going by best player available, Owusu-Koramoah, Barmore, and quarterback Trey Lance are probably available at 17. However, having the offensive line bounce back next season and beyond should be the priority. Signing someone such as Ndamukong Suh removes the need for a defensive tackle in the first round and the Raiders have shown historically they won’t take a linebacker in the first round.
As far as the Basham selection, the Raiders need help at EDGE after the team struggled to compile sacks. Clelin Ferrell did what he could generating pressures but more is needed. Maxx Crosby might be of better use with fewer snaps, enter Basham. The six-foot-five, 285-pound edge rusher totaled 15 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss in his last two seasons at Wake Forest. The Raiders could make use of Basham’s speed and devastating tackling coming off the edge, having him strictly focus on rushing the passer.
Picking up an offensive lineman in the first round won’t go over well with some fans. Nevertheless, fundamentally speaking, Vera-Tucker would make sense, and Basham addresses an area in dire need of improvement.
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*Top Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press