The Oakland Raiders are rebuilding their defense from the bear bones on up. Continuing my look at the rebuilding process, today we take a look at the defensive tackle position. You can check out yesterday's post to see the review of the defensive end position.
The Raiders got rid of both of their defensive tackles in cap moves this off season, but despite that fact, the Raiders are not too bad off at the defensive tackle position. They only have three DTs on the roster right now, but all three will be solid contributors in 2013. Those three players are second year player Christo Bilukidi and free agent signings Pat Sims and Vance Walker.
Bilukidi was one of Reggie McKenzie's draft successes last year. Taken in the sixth round, many had projected Bilukidi as an undrafted free agent prospect. He came from a college in Georgia State that never had a player drafted before him and is still fairly new to the sport since he did not begin playing until his senior year in high school. Yet he proved himself enough to earn playing time in 13 games last season and though he only made eight tackles, he routinely made his presence known, finding his way into the backfield and redirecting plays. He is still raw but has the potential to be very good.Vance Walker is the only one of the three guys who is clearly slated to be a starter in Oakland. Primarily a backup for the Atlanta Falcons, Walker has been a contributor and solid player in his four years in the league. He is still young and could grow into a good starter for the Raiders. Previously considered primarily a run stuffing DT, he had 3 sacks last season which is not bad for a backup defensive tackle. Not great, but still a guy Raiders fans will be happy to have on their team.
Pat Sims is primarily a backup caliber player, but one who can contribute. He is a massive man, standing 6'2 and weighing 335 pounds, and will be a good run stuffer on early downs. Considering the Raiders consistent inability to stop the run in recent years, Sims was likely brought in to help turn that around for the Raiders. I could see he and Bilukidi working in a rotation opposite Walker.
Overall position grade: C+
This is a group of fairly young players, none of whom has been a real starter in the NFL. But with that being said, they all have shown an ability to contribute at the NFL level and are still young enough to see some significant improvement with enough work and the right coaches. It has potential, but because of the lack of starting experience, it's hard to get overly excited.