The Oakland Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie have engaged in a complete overhaul of the defense this off season. Of the 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball last season, only three are still on the roster, Lamarr Houston, Tyvon Branch and Miles Burris. In addition to the immense number of free agents that either moved on or have not yet been re-signed by the Raiders, McKenzie also cut four defensive players, three of whom were starters -- Rolando McClain, Tommy Kelly, and Michael Huff.
But McKenzie has also focused his attention in free agency to the defensive side of the ball. Since the start of free agency, the Raiders have signed eight players, seven of which play on the defensive side of the ball. Yet despite all of those signings, the Raiders still have an incredible amount of work that needs to be done before they hit the field for the 2013 season.
The new additions to the Raiders defense include defensive end Jason Hunter, defensive tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker, linebackers Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava and cornerback Tracy Porter. The Raiders have also re-signed cornerbacks Coye Francies and Phillip Adams as well as linebacker Keilin Burnett (younger brother of Kevin Burnett).
Now, with the Raiders sitting just slightly below the cap Reggie McKenzie likely will not be making many moves between now and April 25th when the first round of the NFL Draft begins. Obviously, the Raiders will continue their defensive rebuilding during the draft, but will also have to address some offensive depth issues and are still lacking picks in the second and fifth rounds. The Raiders may find a couple of defensive players in the draft who will contribute right away, but for the most part, the defense will be made up of the players already on the roster along with some cheap depth added from the remaining free agents.
So with that said, just how bad is the Raiders defense as it currently stands? Throughout this week, I will be taking a look at the defensive side of the ball, unit by unit. First up, defensive end: