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Raiders camp battle: John Jenkins is a prototype nose tackle, but he’s part of the competition

Veteran amongst slew of young talent vying to be the run-stuffing space eater on defensive line

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins
Standing 6-foot-3 and tipping the scales at 335 pounds, 11-year veteran John Jenkins has the prototypical size for the nose tackle position on the defensive line. At age 33, he’s got the most experience but must make an impression in camp to best younger options.
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

On sheer size alone, John Jenkins has the build of a prototypical nose tackle at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds. The 34-year-old 11-year veteran brings plenty of experience, too and that’s something the Las Vegas Raiders need on the defensive front.

Jenkins, who entered the league as a third-round pick (New Orleans Saints) in the 2013 NFL Draft had 116 career games under his belt (30 starts) with 212 total tackles (112 solo), eight stops for loss, 2.5 sacks, and nine quarterback hits. He arrived to Las Vegas in free agency this off season after two years with the Miami Dolphins.

While he’s got the leg up in experience, Jenkins is most assuredly part of the competition for the nose spot at defensive tackle. It’s a group that features a mix of veteran talent along with young and intriguing players. The spot was vacated by Andrew Billings, who left Las Vegas via free agency and is now with the Chicago Bears.

Let’s take a look at the group that will vie for the nose tackle role along with Jenkins:

Jacksonville Jaguars v Las Vegas Raiders
Standing 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, Neil Farrell Jr. also has the prototypical size and build for the nose tackle role for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Contenders

Neil Farrell Jr.

Another prototype nose at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, the LSU product profiled as the classic space-eating run stuffer. Maturity issues seemed to get the best of him during his rookie season as he only saw 158 snaps on defense. Farrell did compile 12 total tackles (three solo) with one stop for loss and two quarterback hits.

He had a well-earned reputation as a rugged two-gapping nose in college and Las Vegas is hoping for a sophomore surge from the 2022 fourth-round pick. He showcased the displacing power and leverage during his LSU run and if the Raiders can get that, they defense will be in much better shape.

Nesta Jade Silvera

Taken in the seventh-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-2, 304-pound Arizona State product displayed the explosiveness and suddenness to be a penetrating nose tackle. It’s that quickness at the snap that not only led to beating offensive lineman at the onset to make plays in the backfield, but also attracts double teams.

Very active and with a good motor, Silvera is the type that wears on offensive lineman as the game progresses from the first to fourth quarter. For his initial explosion, his pass rush generation wasn’t consistent, but as a nose who is a seek-and-destroy run defender, Silver fits the bill.

The Maybes

Byron Young

The third-round pick from the 2023 draft, Young is only a maybe because he profiles more as a three-technique defensive tackle than a one-gap type like nose. He does have versatility to move across the defensive line so one can’t rule out Young potentially getting play at nose.

He does have the long arms and good size at 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds. Yet, at Alabama, Young showcased as a much better read-and-react defensive tackle as his diagnostic and movement skills were on the spotlight. But he didn’t always showcase the power and leverage to be a classic nose.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Alabama
Alabama’s Byron Young (47) profiles more as a three-technique defensive tackle for the Las Vegas Raider. But he can slide along the defensive line and could see snaps at nose tackle.
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Butler

This 6-foot-3 and 290-pound 2022 fifth-round pick is a tweener that leans more towards a three-tech defensive tackle than nose. He was in a similar boat with Farrell in Year 1 only garnering 56 total snaps and racked up five total tackles with half a sack.

Butler is able to penetrate and is disruptive, he also has the long arms, strength, and athleticism required to be a one-gap or two-gap tackle, but he’s better suited at three. That’s why he’s a maybe for a pure nose role.

The Longshots

Adam Butler

Another tweener-type defensive tackle, this five-year veteran inked a reserve contract early in the offseason but has the New England Patriots experience. He’s a maybe because at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, he’s shown to be a more effective three-technique that gets upfield to chase down quarterbacks.

He’s play in 80 games with 13 starts and compiled 113 total tackles (63 solo) with 22 stops for loss, 17 sacks, and 27 quarterback hits. In his most recent stint with the Miami Dolphins in 2021he had 17 total tackles with two sacks.

Kyle Peko

The Raiders recently brought back the six-year veteran and the 6-foot-1 and 305-pounder did earn 154 snaps last season in Las Vegas. He racked up 11 total tackles (five solo) and played the role of disruptive run stuffer decently enough.

He’s a longshot because of the talent and competition at the position but don’t completely rule out the 30-year-old Peko. He earned snaps last year and played in eight games.