Starters: Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin
Depth: James Cowser, Shilique Calhoun, Jimmy Bean, LaTroy Lewis
Mack is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He logged 11.0 sacks last season along with the second most QB hits (26) and forced fumbles (5). He also led the league with an incredible 74 hurries. That’s 13 more than the next guy (Olivier Vernon). He did all this with basically no help from the interior defensive line.
Irvin was a nice complement to Mack on the other side, leading the league with 6 forced fumbles to go along with 7.0 sacks. He and Mack make for one of the better pass rushing duos in the NFL. Though Irvin’s goal was double digit sacks. He will shoot for that once again and hopefully this time get some help from inside.
Cowser was expected to have been drafted last year out of Southern Utah, but did not. Probably because when you watch him, he doesn’t appear to be anything special. But from the moment he set foot in offseason practices, he showed an uncanny ability to find his way into the backfield. He spent time on the practice squad early last season and was later called up to the active roster.
Calhoun was the team’s third round pick out of Michigan State. The productive college defensive end was switch to linebacker for the Raiders and struggled mightily. He couldn’t shed blocks at the point of attack and was lost in coverage. After putting up just 6 combined tackles, 0.5 sack and 3 QB hits as a rookie, he has put on some weight, hoping that will help him hold his ground against blockers.
Bean was brought back on a reserve futures contract after spending time on the practice squad last year. LaTroy Lewis is an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee.
While some depth would be nice (cough-Aldon-Smith-cough), it’s hard to deny the impact Mack has on this defense. He is utterly unstoppable and rarely makes mistakes in any facet of the game. Irvin flies around as a passionate personality on this squad. It’s intriguing to think what they could do with some help inside to keep the offense honest.
What condition do you think the Raiders edge rusher position is in?
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