The Las Vegas Raiders desperately need to improve their run defense, but perhaps at no other position more than their interior. As a whole, Patrick Graham’s unit was near the bottom of most key categories during the 2022 season. However, the interior defensive line remains a major concern. There were some bright spots, including the inspired play of Jerry Tillery (who will be back), though that was from a pass-rushing standpoint. Still, the picture doesn’t look good.
Lack of run defense continued to plague the Raiders in 2022
When looking at the productivity of the Raiders’ defensive tackles from last year, it was obvious that the teams were having uncontested success on the ground. In fact, who can forget that opponents scored 20 rushing touchdowns while surrendering nearly five yards per carry (4.5)? You won’t get very far giving up that much real estate.
Taking a deeper dive, we noticed that no current defensive tackle on the Raiders was graded higher than 53.0. This begs the question: what does Dave Ziegler need to do? Well, he brought in John Jenkins, the massive former Miami Dolphin who posted a 72.7 run defense grade according to Pro Football Focus. However, that was back in 2021. It would appear Ziegler is banking on the Raiders getting that version rather than last year’s edition, when Jenkins sported a 52.8 grade. Still, that was better than what the Raiders trotted out.
No DT currently on the Raiders roster earned a grade of at least 53.0 against the run in 2022.
Outside of newcomer John Jenkins and ‘22 rookie Matthew Butler, all failed to reach 50.
The highest grade earned by any of these players was 52.8, which ranked 128th among all DTs.
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) April 2, 2023
Considering the Raiders’ lack of pass rush and the self-evident issues with stopping the run, it’d make sense for Ziegler to turn to the draft. Despite off-the-field concerns, if Jalen Carter were to fall to No. 7, how do you not take him? On the other hand, there’s more than just one prospect that can alleviate some of last year’s issues. Moro Ojomo from Texas, for example, could be had as early as the third round (the 100th overall pick, perhaps) or as late as the fifth. Regardless, it’d be shocking if Ziegler and the Raiders don’t walk away with at least one defensive tackle prospect.
*Top Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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