With 96 days until kickoff, we move from one interior defensive end to another. And from one highly touted former second round pick to an undrafted guy who proved himself.
DE Denico Autry
Autry came to the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2014. Initially he was a practice squad guy, but midway through his rookie season, he was called up to the active roster and appeared in ten games.
He broke out in 2015, appearing in 14 games, starting 8 and putting up 24 combined tackles (20 solo) and 3.0 sacks. Where the 6-5, 273-pounder showed a real knack, was getting up to knock down balls at the line. He batted down three passes at the line that season, and blocked some field goals as well.
Last season while Mario Edwards Jr was out with an injured hip and rookie Jihad Ward was getting pushed around, Autry was the team’s best interior defensive lineman. He appeared in all 16 games, starting 7 games, leading all interior defensive linemen in every category, including 29 combined tackles (22 solo), 3.0 sacks, 2 batted passes and 2 fumble recoveries.
Autry was retained this offseason on an original round tender as a restricted free agent. That means if the team doesn’t sign him to an extension during the season, he will be headed for free agency after this season.
Who wore it best: DT Darrell Russell
Ten years before the Raiders made JaMarcus Russell the number one overall pick and biggest bust in NFL history, they made Darrell Russell the second overall pick in the draft out of USC. By his second season, the Darrell had 10.0 sacks from the defensive tackle spot. Those sacks and his 64 tackles (58 solo) earned him All Pro honors. He would be named to the Pro Bowl the following season as well with 9.5 sacks.
He appeared in every game his first four seasons with the Raiders, starting every game after his rookie year. That's when things began to fall apart for Russell.
His fifth year, he popped positive for a banned substance and was suspended four games. After that season, he tested positive again and was handed a one-year suspension. That was the end of his career with the Raiders. He would play in one more season in 2003 in Washington. Two years later, his life tragically ended in a fatal car accident.