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Can 2nd year DT Darius Latham make a larger contribution for the Raiders in 2017?

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Former Indiana defensive lineman Darius Latham went undrafted in 2016, signing with the Raiders. The 6’4”, 305-pound Defensive Tackle wasted little time in making a strong impression on his coaches; "I feel like I came in right away and fit in," said Latham prior to the start of the season. During the preseason Pro Football Focus even had him graded as the best rookie Defensive Tackle in the NFL.

With Mario Edwards Jr’s hip injury keeping him out until week 16, Latham would have an opportunity to prove himself. Latham wouldn’t exactly take advantage of that opportunity finishing the season with 17 tackles, 0 sacks, and 1 pass deflected.

Playing Defensive Tackle and 3-4 Defensive End, doesn’t really lend it's self to massive stats though. At least not for guys outside of Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Suh. The only real way to get a real idea of how players in these positions performed is to watch the tape.

If there is one thing Latham does well, it is hustle. While he was a little late in diagnosing this screen pass, he stayed with it. He may have even made the tackle if not for the block in the back. While he didn’t make the stop, creating a penalty can be just as effective.

The biggest area the Raiders will need Latham to grow is in the pass rush department. The Raiders’ lack of interior pass rush has been beaten into the ground because it was a big part of the team’s defensive struggles. Latham was clearly inexperienced in pass rushing but did show decent athleticism for his size. Scheme plays a large role in getting pressure as well.

Here Latham utilized a spin move from his left defensive end position. The right guard is able to hook Latham but for a 300 pound man, this is pretty good.

With Dan Williams out, Justin Ellis is the only true Nose Tackle on the team. This may be the role that Latham moves into. Head coach Jack Del Rio and Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. would use him as a nose tackle at times, mostly in passing situations. Latham would need to add some bulk to handle the constant double teams he would face.

Being able to gain that bulk without losing his athletic ability is not an easy task. Latham is not a superior athlete in the mold of a Mario Edwards Jr. to begin with. While he doesn’t show a great burst, he does possess the strength to hold his own. Here is Latham playing the nose tackle in the Raiders nickel package.

That strength did show up in the run game. Latham was solid in holding his spot and then great in pursuit. Defenses are built on guys who can do their jobs, not everyone is going to get a lot of sacks. As many defensive coordinators will say ‘You have to stop the run on first down to get a chance to rush the QB on third down.’

On this play Latham is able to fight off the left guard from his right defensive end spot. He has good pursuit and makes the tackle. The Raiders will take plays like this.

Regardless of the position, the Raiders will be expecting Latham to build off the potential he showed last preseason. Undrafted free agents do not usually get that many opportunities to prove themselves. With second round picks Mario Edwards Jr and Jihad Ward now joined by this years third round pick Eddie Vanderdoes, those opportunities may be even fewer.


How will Latham perform this season?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Pro Bowl player
    (80 votes)
  • 36%
    Solid starter
    (864 votes)
  • 10%
    Below average starter
    (257 votes)
  • 47%
    Rotational player
    (1116 votes)
  • 1%
    Barely sees the field
    (34 votes)
  • 0%
    Doesn’t make the team
    (11 votes)
2362 votes total Vote Now