Probably the biggest need for the Oakland Raiders this offseason is at defensive tackle. But the Raiders don’t need just any defensive tackle. Dontari Poe, for example, is a sexy name but a guy who really doesn’t fit what the Raiders need. They have the big bodied run stuffing style covered with Justin Ellis, Dan Williams and possibly Stacy McGee (who they should really re-sign).
What the Raiders need is a defensive tackle capable of providing pressure on passing downs. Mario Edwards, Jr. fills that role when he’s healthy but he’s starting to be a guy you can’t count on. Jihad Ward was supposed to supplement that role but he proved to be much more raw than we originally hoped. It’s far too early to give up on Ward but it’s also hard to justify waiting.
The answer might be a stop gap veteran defensive tackle to help edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin while Ward continues to develop. If that’s the game plan, there are some good options for Reggie McKenzie to look at in free agency:
This is the dream but there’s a reason dreams aren’t reality. Campbell is easily the best defensive lineman available in free agency and might be the best player period. He’s most often listed as a defensive end but he’s perfectly capable of playing defensive tackle and would be an absolute beast doing so.
But the best part is his versatility and the ability to play him all over the defensive line.
With eight sacks last season, Campbell would be a huge upgrade to a Raiders defense that simply didn’t produce sacks outside of Mack and Irvin. But of course, everyone else realizes how valuable Campbell is and he will land a massive pay day in free agency.
Fairley is what many think they are getting when asking for the Raiders to sign Dontari Poe. At one time, Poe was a guy who had insane athleticism for his size but that is no longer the case. As he’s gotten older, he’s slowed down and become much more of a two down run stuffer. But Nick Fairley is a guy who has plenty of size to clog up the opposing run game and enough speed and explosiveness to crash the pocket on pass downs. Need proof? Last season he had 6.5 sacks, which is a very good number from the defensive tackle position. Adding a guy like Fairley to a front seven that also includes Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will produce the kind of pass rush that will make the secondary look a whole lot better than it is. Only problem? He won’t be cheap.
Some people don’t like this idea but that’s mostly due to the desire for big name free agents. If you want to be realistic about the Raiders’ situation, Odrick makes a ton of sense. He will be cheaper than most of the names out there and fits the stop gap role perfectly. He has been playing more at defensive end with the Jaguars but with Oakland, you could expect him at defensive tackle.
Coincidentally, that’s where he’d prefer to play and where he played when he earned the massive contract that led to his being cut this offseason. He won’t blow you away with stats but he will do what the Raiders need at defensive tackle, provide pressure on passing downs so that the edge rushers on the outside can eat. Plus, given the need to extend Derek Carr and re-sign a good number of the 18 impending free agents, Odrick would make more financial sense than Campbell or Fairley.