Hello Raider Nation, it is that time of year when we all get to play GM in our own little worlds, and envision our team in our own minds. In my mind I see us running a 3-4 and 4-3 hybrid, but using the 3-4 as our base. Now I know what everyone on here is instantly going to say and that is that we do not have the linebackers to pull it off. Now, while this may be true, can any of you really make the case that we have the linebackers to run a 4-3, because it sure as hell didnt look like it this season.
I truly think that, judging by our Dline, we have what it takes to run a successful 3-4, starting with Lamarr Houston and Bryant if we choose to resign him. They would both be exceptional 3-4 DEs, given their mass, ability to stop the run, and their athleticism. As Bryant is concerned, I would be very happy to have Shaunassey back as a backup for rotation. I think Bryant is quick enough to play DE in this scheme, and I think he could even excel in it. The last piece of the D line would be NT, which I think can be addressed through FA or the draft. We could pick up a player like Knighton from Jax, or pick someone in the draft like Geathers or Jenkins from Georgia, or any of the big DT in the 2nd round (I am hoping we pick up that second rounder, thus why Star is not part of this equation).
Now as far as linebackers go, the outside is probably the easier of the 2 positions to think of. I think that we can snag a very good OLB in thr draft with hopefully Arizona or Buffaloes pick ( whether for a QB or even Joekel if he slides). We could have someone like Mingo, Dion Jordan, or even Moore if he were to slide. These guys would add even more value because they can all stand up and rush, but also have the athleticism rush from the 4-3 as well. As far as the other OLB position is concerned, I think that Burris would fare well for stopping the run and covering, and put Carter in on 3rd downs to rush the passer if Burris proves that he is not capable. Wheeler could also fill this role if he proved to be better suited. That being said, I think that Wheeler would do a fine job as an ILB and the other ILB position is somewhat of a question mark. The best case would be for us to sign Barnet. He played inside for the Packer's 3-4 when they won a super bowl and he has connections with our LB coach and Reggie as well.We could then find a 3rd or 4th rounder who can at least provide some depth while becoming a better player to take over the inside job in a year or 2 when he is ready. I know this is a question mark, but we can get something done with ILB, and it can be worse than what we endured this year, it can only get better.
As far as CB goes, Reggie is going to be forced to sign a cheap starting corner in FA, and hope it turns out better, he will have the chance to draft one in the 3rd/4th and hopefully will strike gold which is what he prides himself in doing, and hope that this secondary can live upto what Dennis Allen wants his secondary to do, so that we can start throwing everything that we have at these offenses and win some damn games!
All in all, I hope that I have convinced some of you that the our Raiders would fare well in the 3-4 defense, and that, while we would also fare well in the 4-3, the 3-4 allows Houston IMO to play the best football he has yet. I know that some of you will stick with your opinion that we should stick with the 4-3, and you guys have great arguments to back it up, but the reality is that we are going to run this hybrid, so I at least hope that I help alleviate some of the 3-4 aspect concerns.
I already cannot wait til next year, and all I want more than anything is just to see our team go out and kick ass and take their rightful place at the top of the NFL. We deserve this. GO RAIDERS!