There has been much talk about which defense the Raiders would run this season. Some think they will stick with 4-3 while others see a switch to a 3-4. All the while Dennis Allen has suggested there will be no such labels placed on the Raiders defense but rather they would run their own hybrid style.
But even if the Raiders only plan to run the 3-4 part of the time, they would need someone to play nose tackle. Today Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, sat down with head coach Dennis Allen and he finally unraveled the mystery-It will be Tommy Kelly.
Kelly is not what many people consider an ideal candidate for the nose tackle position. He is considered a bit tall at 6-6 and at 300 pounds, he would need to put on about 30 plus pounds to fit the mold of your typical 3-4 nose tackle in the NFL.
His linemate, Richard Seymour is also 6-6 and has ten pounds on Kelly currently. But Seymour played a 3-4 defensive end most of his career and now is a Pro Bowl three technique defensive tackle for the Raiders.
Kelly has been larger in his NFL career although he has always been seen more as a three technique defensive tackle. That is until Seymour was moved inside which shifted Kelly over to the five technique defensive tackle spot.
This means that Kelly will no doubt begin packing on some weight so he can be that anchor in the middle in the Raiders' 3-4 sets. The team does have a true nose tackle on the roster in Travis Ivey. However, Ivey is not a proven commodity. Also, it would be unwise to go into the season with one option at the position, let alone one who may or may not be talented enough to make the squad.
A lot of people were calling for the Raiders to take a nose tackle in the draft but despite several prospects such as Alameda Ta'amu, available when the Raiders picked, they passed on the position altogether. It seems perhaps that was because Dennis Allen felt he had his nose tackle all along.
If Kelly does prove to be the answer the Raiders think he will be, it would settle the 3-4 defensive player personnel issue. They have picked up quite a few good linebackers both in free agency (Philip Wheeler) and the draft (fourth round pick, Miles Burris and seventh round pick, Nathan Stupar).
They already had a glut of defensive linemen who can play 3-4 defensive end (Richard Seymour, Lamarr Houston, Desmond Bryant) and added another in the draft (Christo Bilukidi).
So, with many fans thinking Kelly was expendable and calling for the Raiders to trade him and his big contract, the Raiders had other plans. It looks as if he will be manning two positions this season and the Raiders will get their money's worth out of him.
And thus the mystery of the 3-4 nose tackle case has been closed... for now.