There has been a pretty glaring need at defensive end for the Raiders the past few seasons and yet for the first two years, it was not made a priority. That changed this off-season with the hopes of an upgrade to the ever-vital pass rush.
This is what the position looks like heading into training camp:
LDE: Justin Tuck, CJ Wilson, Jack Crawford
RDE: Lamarr Woodley, Ryan Robinson, Shelby Harris, Denico Autry
The defensive end starters are both new. Lamarr Houston left as a free agent to sign with the Bears and Jason Hunter was no re-signed. Enter Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley who were two of the team's early free agent signings. Tuck comes over from the Giants where he won two Super Bowls and Woodley comes over from the Steelers where he went to two Super Bowls, winning one. C.J. Wilson was signed as a free agent from the Packers. The team used one of their three seventh round picks on Shelby Harris. They signed Denico Autry as an undrafted free agent.
The big question
He is just a question mark himself. He has had injuries the past few seasons and the Steelers released him and his high salary. He will be making the transition from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end. This should be an easy transition because a 3-4 outside linebacker's duties overall are more difficult. They require him to drop back in coverage a lot more. He was always more proficient at rushing the passer which is what his primary job will be in the Raiders' 4-3 defense. But his health will be a concern regardless. There is little in the way of depth behind him so he needs to stay healthy.
Best case scenario
Justin Tuck hasn't lost a step. There is no indication he has lost anything considering he had 11.0 sacks just last season. It's the reason he was so shocked when the Giants didn't offer him a contract worthy of finishing his career in New York. The Raiders saw him on the market and made him one of their top priorities. That kind of pass rush production is such the Raiders have not seen in a few years.
Worst case scenario
Woodley can't stay healthy. Last season the Raiders had Lamarr Houston on one side and Jason Hunter on the other. Houston had a great season and yet the pass rush overall still wasn't up to snuff. Even if Tuck is still the Tuck of old, with no one pressuring from the other side, opposing offenses will just double team him constantly without a viable threat on the other side. Behind Woodley there is Ryan Robinson who outplayed last year's seventh round pick, David Bass, and then did nothing for the Raiders during the season.
In adding Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley, the Raiders add four Super Bowl appearances, and three Super Bowl rings.
The appropriately named Justin ‘Tuck' sacked Tom Brady 4.0 times in the Giants two Super Bowl wins, both over the Patriots who won their first Super Bowl in 2001 thanks to the use of the terrible, and now removed, Tuck Rule which wan enforced when Charles Woodson had a strip sack on Tom Brady which should have ended the game and sent the Raiders to the AFC Championship.
Jack Crawford was the Raiders 5th round of the first draft by the new regime. He is one of two British born players on this team along with right tackle, Menelik Watson. He has been buried on the depth chart the past couple seasons and is very much in danger of not making the squad, which would really be a shame considering the Raiders play in London this year.
Denico Autry was first supposed to be signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent but a failed physical due to injury concerns cause him to go unsigned and the Raiders signed him.