The Oakland Raiders have some serious beef up front at the defensive tackle position. The team re-signed Pat Sims and added Justin Ellis in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Both are massive humans to anchor the inside of the defensive line. The team also added the versatile and disruptive Antonio Smith to the mix to play with 2013 sixth-round pick Stacy McGee. This was a position of need this offseason and the Raiders made strides to improve it.
Smith comes to Oakland from the Houston Texans where he started every game but two since 2009. He is exactly the type of player that general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen covet. He provides the versatility to play inside at defensive tackle and also bounce outside to defensive end. Smith amassed 41.5 sacks in his career so he is disruptive off the edge and through the middle. The Raiders could use some push in the middle, which lacked the last few seasons. Smith is a huge addition to the defensive line and can help in several ways.
The Raiders will likely pair Smith with Pat Sims to start the season, but the training camp competition will determine who starts. Sims was a bright spot for the Raiders last season where he started all 16 games and provided 54 tackles and two sacks. Sims is best used as a run stuffer with some ability to pressure from the inside. He was tremendous size at 6-2, 310 pounds. He was an integral part of a Raiders run defense that played well in 2013. The team allowed 107.9 rush yards per game which was good for 13th best in the league.
With the addition of Justin Ellis in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Raiders added a nice piece to the defensive tackle rotation. Ellis, like any rookie, will have a learning curve and needs development, but he possesses some nice traits. Ellis is a mountain of a man at 6-2 335 pounds. He has a nice burst and quick feet for a man of that size. He will be another player the Raiders can use to clog the middle in run situations to allow their linebackers to flow to the ball. Imagine teams trying to run against the Raiders with Sims and Ellis clogging lanes. That is a luxury the Raiders have this season.
Another key piece of the defensive tackle rotation will be Stacy McGee. McGee developed nicely in 2013 after Oakland drafted him in the sixth-round. He came on strong toward the end of the season and ended up starting five of the last seven games of his rookie year. He earned 20 stops in those games and initiated some inside pressure. He is another big body at 6-4, 310 pounds and uses that power to push the pocket inside to provide pressure. The coaching staff has been impressed with McGee, so keep an eye on his continued development in 2014.
As far as competition is concerned there is not much for the Raiders in terms of roster spots. All four of these defensive tackles have an inside track to not only make the team, but see significant playing time. They will be pushing each other in training camp for snaps and playing time. The other defensive tackles on the roster are Ricky Lumpkin and Torell Troup, who will have to show very well in training camp to be part of the team's plans.Tags: Antonio Smith, defensive tackle, Football, Justin Ellis, NFL, NFL Draft, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Pat Sims, Stacy McGee