The Raiders were notably lacking in pass rush last season. They were severely lacking depth at the position heading into the draft and waited until their final pick in the seventh round to grab the first defensive end -- David Bass. But he may just prove to be the X factor in the Raiders' defensive packages.
Dropping back into coverage was not something Bass did much while at Division II Missouri Western State. He was sent out there and told to sick the quarterback. Something he did very well, breaking the school record with 39.5 sacks in his college career.
"I was a primary a hand-down, hand-in-the-dirt defensive end," said Bass of his time in college. "There were situations where I came off to take the flare, I'd curl the flats and they'd let me stand up, but I can count on my hand how many times I did that."
Despite the lack of tape on Bass in coverage, the Raiders saw in workouts something that gave them the idea that he would work well in their 4-3 base hybrid defense. And for the first set of OTA's he spent a lot of time putting into practice what he had been working on since he began preparing for the draft.
"Oh yeah, so far these past two days, we've been dropping a lot," said Bass. "I've been training a lot since January on that, too. I knew I was going to get picked up as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end, so I wanted to be ready for both. The good thing here is it's a 4-3 front, and we have certain schemes that we run where defensive ends do drop, so that's great."
Bass was the first pure defensive end the team added in the draft but he wasn't the first pass rusher the team added. They drafted outside linebacker Sio Moore in the third round and in the first week of OTA's he was seen up on the line almost as often as he was back in coverage.
Dennis Allen has said already the team will not be switching schemes despite the addition of several linebackers to the team and the need for pass rush.
"Listen, we're basing out of a 4-3, just like we did last year," said Allen. "But we're going to have the ability to have some 3-4 looks, being able to implement those things and try to make them as simple as we can for our players, as well as try to make it complicated for the offense."
Bass' ability to rush the edge is of utmost importance and if he can really develop his game in coverage the way the Raiders seem to think he can, the opposing offense won't know what's coming.
The Raiders head into their second of three sets of OTA's today as the players in this rebuilt defense try to figure out where they fit into the scheme of things. Bass is already getting a pretty good indication where he will carve his niche.