The interior defensive line has been analyzed. Now we move to the ends of the line. That's where the pass rush and containment comes from. It's an area that every team either succeeds with or struggles without. Let's see where the Raiders fall in that area as we take a look at the current defensive ends on this team.
Lamarr Houston - 16 starts, 69 tackles (56 solo), 6.0 sacks, 41 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles
Jason Hunter - 10 starts, 27 tackles (19 solo), 3.0 sacks, 12 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble
Ryan Robinson - 0 starts, 4 tackles (3 solo), 0 sacks, 2 QB hurries
Lamarr Houston is the star of this group and indeed the star of this defense as a whole. He and Tyvon Branch were the only returning starters on defense and Branch was lost after week two. Houston proceeded to finish with career highs in tackles and sacks. He had the most solo tackles of any 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. His sack numbers were not great but he was in the top ten among 4-3 defensive ends in quarterback hurries.
The Raiders headed into last off-season in need of pass rushers and came out nearly empty handed. They already had Lamarr Houston and spoke of him being part of the foundation of this young, rebuilt defense. The key was to bring in someone to play opposite him on the line. That player was Jason Hunter. The results were not what the Raiders had hoped.
Despite starting much of the season and playing extensive minutes even when he wasn't starting, he had poor numbers across the board. The Raiders needed pressure from both sides to keep opposing offenses from keying on Houston. They didn't get that and opposing quarterbacks often had far too much time to pick apart the Raiders suspect defensive backs.
The Raiders also didn't get that much needed defensive end in the draft. They got David Bass with their final pick and then waived him in the final roster cutdown in favor of Ryan Robinson. He didn't do much this season while Bass had far better numbers as a reserve in Chicago (23 tackles, 1.0 sack, 4 QB hurries, 1 interception returned for a TD).
Team need: Urgent
All three of the Raiders defensive ends are set to become free agents. Lamarr Houston absolutely must be a priority to re-sign. If he gets away, the situation will go from bad to worse. Even if they can bring him back, they absolutely CAN NOT go this off-season without bringing in a pass rushing defensive end for the other side of the line. Jason Hunter was on a one-year deal and isn't likely to be brought back. Signing a big time free agent as well as looking to the draft would be ideal to bring some long awaited pass rush to this Raiders defensive end unit.