When a team's leading pass rusher has just 4.0 sacks, there is a problem. Depending on who you ask, there are different ideas as to which position needs to be addressed to fix this problem. Some will simply say they need pass rushers while other will say they need to build the pass rush from the inside out.
What we DO know is the Raiders could be woefully thin at both positions. Richard Seymour is gone, Tommy Kelly looks to be cut soon, and Desmond Bryant and Matt Shaughnessy will become free agents if not re-signed before Tuesday. The draft can't fill all those holes. Some help in free agency is needed.
Here are the free agent defensive linemen near the top of the Raiders' wish list:
The Lions have a logjam at defensive tackle with high round picks Ndnamukong Suh and Nick Fairly along with Corey Williams. As a result, Hill languished as a backup and rotational player even though he showed promise as a rookie when starting. At 6'4, 330 pounds, he is an ideal space eating nose tackle in the middle which the Raiders could really use. They tried Tommy Kelly at that position last season with mixed results.
DT Mike Devito, 28, Jets
He doesn't get a lot of hype but Mike Devito is quietly a very solid run stuffing DT for the Jets. He played well enough to hold off first-round pick Quinton Coples. He isn't going to push the pocket very often but he will hold the line against the run and free up the defensive end to get into the backfield. He has played every position along the defensive line in the Jets 3-4. He would be ideal as a 4-3 3-tech DT. If Desmond Bryant were to leave in free agency, Devito could be a nice replacement.
Adding Kruger fits squarely in the "wishful thinking" arena. But there has to be one or two in here somewhere. There are not a lot of really good pass rushers hitting the market this free agency. Add to that he was the hottest pass rusher on the Super Bowl winning Ravens and you have the recipe for a big contract. He had 7.5 sacks in his last 8 regular season games and 2.5 in the Wildcard Round against Indianapolis. The Raiders need a player like him desperately.
Hayes isn't currently considered an every down player. But in his limited snaps, he was among the best all-around performers in football. His 18 defensive stops on 136 running plays gave him the best run stop percentage score of all 4-3 defensive ends. And that's for a player who is known more for his pass rushing.
"He came to the Rams on a short one year deal," said Tevin Broner of Turf Show Times. "But on limited snaps he made an impact. He played DE and DT on passing downs, notching 7 sacks on 300+ snaps. He will be a good swing defensive linemen."
DT/DE Chris Canty, 30, Giants -- The 8-year veteran defensive tackle is 30 years old which is two years younger than Tommy Kelly and three years younger than Richard Seymour. At 286 pounds, he is suited for either a 3-4 defensive end or a 3-tech defensive tackle. Canty, could be a nice pickup as a rotational player on a 1-2 year deal.
DT/NT Alan Branch, 28, Seahawks -- He had a disappointing season last year after a great seasons two years ago. That down season could have him come as a bargain. At 6-6, 324 pounds, it would be worth it for the Raiders to sign him to a short term deal to see if he can return to form.