The Las Vegas Raiders may very well need eight new defensive starters in 2023. Maxx Crosby, however, has been a one-man wrecking crew off the edge. If the Raiders want to boost their lackluster defense in the new year, it starts on the defensive line. The Raiders will do their homework, but they have a few directions they could go. One option is to draft an edge rusher. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham had a first-hand account of some highly talented individuals down at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The other is NFL free agency.
Attacking the NFL Draft: Plenty of options for the Raiders
With the Raiders solidifying the seventh overall pick in the 2023 draft, there are plenty of names to look at. Clemson product Myles Murphy would be a huge addition opposite Crosby. Murphy is an athletic freak who plays with both power and speed. He is still relatively raw with his pass-rush moves, but NFL experience will help him improve. The Raiders could also trade back and select Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson.
Wilson stands at an imposing six-foot-six but plays with more agility than his size suggests. The Raiders could pair him with “Mad Maxx” to have a duo that leads with effort and wins consistently on second chances. Keep an eye on Nolan Smith (Georgia) and Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame) as possible targets in later rounds. Whichever way the Raiders decide to draft, EDGE will most certainly be on their radar.
A veteran in free agency could boost Patrick Graham’s group
Rumors about Chandler Jones contemplating retirement could alter free agency. However, assuming he plays out his contract, the Raiders have depth options. The 2023 free agency EDGE class lacks a lot of starting qualities. Guys like Robert Quinn, Brandon Graham, and Akiem Hicks are solid players, but they will all be over 33 this season. Rotational players such as Samson Ebukam and Matthew Ioannidis could be considered by the Raiders. Giving the defensive line proper depth will be crucial to boosting every level of the defense in 2023. The Raiders can maximize production by adding a capable rusher behind Jones.
Would the Raiders actually neglect the EDGE position?
The Raiders have plenty of holes on defense. Despite Jones’ inconsistency, EDGE is one of the better units on that side of the ball. With some extra money and potential draft picks coming the Raiders’ way, they could easily spend it elsewhere while retaining the current group. Although he’s a pending free agent, Clelin Ferrell is now familiar with the scheme and has been a fixture on the run defense. The club could opt to sign him back for cheap as a depth piece while addressing the secondary, linebacker, and interior defensive line instead. It wouldn’t necessarily be wise to leave the current unit alone, but they have much bigger issues.
*Top Photo: BVM Sports