After covering the offense last week, we shift to the defensive side of the ball and we pick up where we left off -- in the trenches. This is an area Jack Del Rio said recently that he and Reggie McKenzie share an appreciation. Both being linebackers, you can see why they would appreciate having some lane clogger to take the pressure off the defensive backfield.
The Raiders added big defensive tackle Dan Williams in the offseason but not before taking a run the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Jared Odrick. There are some DT's in this draft who could be that final piece to making the Raiders interior defensive line one of the better in the league. Here are those who look to land squarely in the Raiders draft radar:
Leonard Williams, USC - Rd 1
He has been considered the top prospect in this draft class since the end of last season. As the draft approaches there have been a few naysayers coming out of the woodwork, some of whom believe he isn't all he's cracked up to be. College Football Focus put out their evaluation of Williams which didn't paint as perfect a picture of the big defensive tackle as some may have been led to believe. But then again, what prospect is perfect? There was also a lot of positives in that report. His ability to stop the run is the best in college football. Rare to find a player of his size (6-5. 300) who can stop the run as well as he does while also averaging 7.0 sacks per season in his three years at USC. He is a best fit as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but he can also line up at defensive end in the 4-3 or the 3-4 if the Raiders need him to do so, allowing them to better disguise their alignments on defense. He played for Del Rio's alma mater and where Ken Norton Jr coached. Williams is also a huge Raiders fan and has made it clear he would love to play for his favorite team.
Grady Jarrett, Clemson - Rd 3
Jarrett is a first round talent who may slip some in the draft because of his size. At 6-1, 290 pounds, he is shorter than your typical 3-tech DT and too light to be a nose tackle. He has never had great sack numbers but consistently gets pressure on the quarterback as evidenced by his 32 QB pressures last season. He is equally proficient at stopping the run, which is rare, and it allows him to stay on the field regardless of the down and distance, raising his value.
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State - Rd 4
There's a good chance Bennett will be taken earlier than round four, but if he does slip, this is where I could see the Raiders taking a serious look at him. The 6-2, 290-pounder does his best work getting into the opponent's backfield, shown by his 14.0 sacks and 22 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. That is a role which the Raiders could use some help now that Antonio Smith has been released.
Marcus Hardison, Arizona State - Rd 5
In round five, you start thinking about players who showed some skills that are worth taking a chance on. Hardison is such a player. He broke out as a senior with 53 combined tackles (32 solo), 10.0 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss. As a junior in 2013, this JuCo transfer did basically nothing. There are a lot of reasons why that might be. You take that chance here to find out if it was simply a case of the light coming on.
Derrick Lott, UT Chattanooga - Rd 6
Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have shown they like using late round picks on under the radar and small school guys. Lott fits into that small school category. He is also a late bloomer. While his tackle numbers have been steady, he starting showing great power and skill as a pass rusher as a senior. He showed off those athletic abilities at the combine with 30 reps on the bench press and the second best 3-cone drill time (7.30) among defensive tackles.