Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston at training camp 2011 (photo by Levi Damien)
The defensive end position for the Raiders after last season was a uncertainty. A lot of things were unknown. Is the team satisfied with the starters? Would they be moving more toward bigger, 3-4 defensive ends? Some prognosticators had defensive end as a need area while others had it as one of their deepest positions.
Matt Shaughnessy is a great pass rusher and returns from an injury that had him out most of last season. Lamarr Houston lines up on the other side. Both have shown abilities to rush the passer as well as stop the run, although Houston has been very inconsistent.
Behind those two, there is just converted defensive end Desmond Bryant and Mason Brodine who was a midseason practice squad call up. Getting another shot at making the team will be practice squad player Hall Davis. Former backup defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Trevor Scott are gone. Scott signed with the Patriots and Moss was no re-signed.
Among the new arrivals is former New York Giant Dave Tollefson who signed as a free agent. The team drafted Jack Crawford late in the fifth round out of Penn State and signed undrafted free agent Kaelin Burnett out of Nevada.
Here is what the Raiders defensive end depth chart looks like heading into camp:
1. Matt Shaughnessy- The best pass rusher and arguably the best defender on this Raider team. Is a Pro Bowl caliber player over a full season.
2. Lamarr Houston- After late rookie success in 2010, he took a step back last season under defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. The hope is he can find that talent he showed two seasons ago. He is an ideal 3-4 defensive end as a former college defensive tackle.
3. Desmond Bryant- I will preface this by saying, he may move back to defensive tackle and will likely play both positions at various points in the season. He too is an ideal 3-4 style defensive end with size and pass rush abilities.
4. Dave Tollefson- He could switch back and forth from outside linebacker and defensive end. He played on both Giants' Super Bowl teams and brings that winning attitude with him.
5. Jack Crawford- Is a developmental prospect but is a quick study and the development may not take long. Could be an instant situational pass rusher.
6. Mason Brodine- Looked good in camp last season but was a practice squad type player due to his needing to add bulk to his long frame. Showed enough by midseason to earn a call up to the big leagues. With the additions of Tollefson and Crawford, making the roster again may only be as an injury replacement.
7. Hall Davis- He was not in Raider training camp last year as he was signed to the practice squad midseason. Coming into camp from the start will be beneficial for him in his bid to make the regular season roster.
7. Kaelin Burnett- Has a lot to prove and is a long shot to make the team.