So far as the new GM of the Oakland Raiders, Mike Mayock has added 4 free agents on offense and re-signed 2 others on that side of the ball. The defense hasn’t received as much love, with 2 free agents and 2 others re-signed.
The pass rush was an area many pointed to as a place where free agency should be focused. However, the signing of Antonio Brown may have thrown a wrench in those plans. Josh Mauro has been the only addition to the Raiders defensive line. A group that only managed to muster 5 sacks in 2018 between the players currently rostered (Maurice Hurst - 4, Arden Key - 1).
Josh Mauro is a fit in defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s 4-3 scheme. Guenther prefers his ends to have great size and length with the ability to defend the run. Mauro has those traits in spades. At 6’6 290lbs he’s proved to be a reliable player in the NFL as a rotational piece to a defensive line. But Mauro has only logged 3 sacks during a 5 year NFL career because he is a run stuffing defensive end who has rarely seen the field in obvious passing situations.
Here’s a look at his game and how he can contribute to the Raiders defensive line.
There hasn’t been many opportunities for Mauro to get after the passer. In a blowout win over Washington Mauro saw more opportunities however and was able to make the most of them.
The play above is a stunt where Mauro is suppose to draw the tackle inside while the defensive tackle loops around to get a free rush. Mauro is not suppose to be the beneficiary of this play call but ends up making the sack after bulldozing the right guard to the ground.
Here is Mauro on a rush call. He disregards the play action movement in the backfield and throws off the Washington quarterback’s rhythm for a hurry.
Mauro isn’t flashy as a rusher and won’t do much to solve the sack problem. In his limited reps on passing downs he’s shown he can impact the quarterback. Getting back with Brenston Buckner, (whom Mauro identified as his best professional coach) might be enough for Mauro to have a career year rushing the passer. At least that is what Raiders fans are hoping.
What Mauro lacks as a pass rusher he makes up for as run defender. He has many quality reps defending a diverse array of run schemes. You remember Raiders defensive ends getting caught up on the jet sweep early in 2018? Guenther does too and Mauro shows he isn’t one to be fooled easily.
The big defensive end doesn’t need to be left unblocked to do damage against the run game. On this play against the 49ers, he defeats two blockers by leaning on excellent technique keeping one arm and leg free to make a stop for no gain.
Mauro has an interesting skill set with the ability to defend the run from a traditional defensive tackle position as well. Most defensive ends who kick inside to a 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard) only do so in passing situations. Mauro’s ability to defend the run is good enough that the Giants defense was able to scheme him into favorable match-ups against the Titans.
On this play above Mauro lines up over the left guard. It is a zone play away from Mauro and Pro-Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan is suppose to execute a backside reach block on Mauro. Easier said than done, Mauro blows by the blocker to stop this play before it gets started.
This time Mauro lines up over the right guard. He again keep his outside arm and leg free allowing him to make another play behind the line of scrimmage. The Giants were able to scheme into a bear front to stop Tennessee’s potent rushing attack partly because Mauro’s size and ability to stop the run.
Bottom line, Mauro does not provide a boost to the pass rush. He is a versatile player who can be counted on to defend the run from different spots on the defensive line. So far in his career, Mauro has not shown the ability to turn the corner against tackles or provide a consistent pass rush.
For what he is, Mauro is a great addition to the defensive line. He will be the same type of player Frostee Rucker was on the field for the Raiders last season. Mauro will need to be in a rotation to be the most effective. Paul Guenther is still handcuffed by his pass rushing arsenal. The question of who rushes the passer remains.