Because they will likely lose players at the position to free agency, the Las Vegas Raiders need a defensive tackle.
Andrew Billings was the first signing for the defensive position, but the front office will find more depth pieces since he is not a sure thing to make the 53-man roster.
Raider Nation is clamoring for Jordan Davis in the first round of the draft. However, when working free agency, teams should look for depth to where they don't have to reach for need.
Finding a defensive tackle in free agency is not expensive as the position is undervalued at the moment. The Raiders front office can find young players at lower prices to help this defense immediately.
The interior defenders below are young and ready to hit the market:
The Buffalo Bills are known for deploying an excellent defense. The Raiders can add a part of that nucleus with defensive tackle Harrison Phillips hitting free agency. The former third-round selection out of Stanford can come in right away and fill in for Jonathan Hankins if he leaves in free agency.
A Bargain FA pick-up that could cause an impact is Harrison Phillips. Plays mostly 1, 0 Tech with movement to 2,4,5 who is good vs the run and pushes the pocket well enough on run downs. Probably not a 3 down player but could fill Hankins's role immediately. pic.twitter.com/VtV8FCTAqB— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) March 8, 2022
Phillips worked at one and zero technique. He was primarily used as a run defender on first and second down for the Bills but can push the pocket on early downs. According to PFF, he was 21st in defensive stops and 10th in run stop%.
He can fill a role at only 26 years old and do it well for the Raiders. Phillips comes from a winning organization and adds stability as a run stuffer.
Tim Settle Jr.
Free agency is where you find secret gems that fell through the cracks. Whether that was falling in the rotation or not enough opportunities, these players can change your team quickly. Tim Settle Jr. is that type of player with tremendous upside as a pass rusher.
#97 Tim Settle is another bargin DT with high upside. 5 sacks on 118 pass rush snaps in 2020. 45 total pressures on 565 pass rush snaps in his career. Nasty bull rush on this one. pic.twitter.com/eV3xGyoVFH— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) March 9, 2022
Buried in the depth chart during his tenure with the Washington Commanders, Settle made the most of his opportunities. According to PFF, Settle accumulated 45 pressures on 535 pass-rush snaps during his career. That isn't far off Deforest Buckner's entire 2021 season, where he had 49 pressures on 543 snaps. The former fifth-round pick had five sacks on 118 pass-rush snaps in 2020.
Settle's struggles against the run are noted, but his ability to cause havoc in the interior is intriguing. Raiders could get him on a one-year deal.
Solomon Thomas was a surprise free agency pick-up for the Raiders. He had a career year and could be an option to bring back this season. The team could look to another reclamation project with former first-round pick Taven Bryan.
In Jacksonville, Bryan has been a disappointment, not developing as a pass rusher. The defensive tackle only has seven sacks in his career but did have a career year with a 14% win percentage rushing the passer. That put him 11th on PFF among interior defenders. The elements are still there for Bryan to become a good interior rusher.
The Raiders would be wise to move in on Bryan, who will be cheap on the market. If he can come in and maximize the first-round talent, it can be the bargain signing that can help complete the roster with upside for the future.