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Raiders Mailbag: Who will set themselves apart on the defensive line come training camp?


Bryan Weist asks...

"How much better, if at all, do you think our defensive tackles will be from last year?"

The play of the defensive tackles should be much better for various reasons.

To start, the Silver and Black landed two emerging, young pass rushing defensive tackles in Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas. Both Jefferson and Thomas were two of the more underrated free agents on the market this past offseason and the Raiders were able to capitalize on it as Gus Bradley feels these two players can be contributing factors into revitalizing the defense. Also expect defensive end Clelin Ferrell to get some snaps at the three or five-technique this season, as he excelled in the few opportunities he had at defensive tackle stopping the run.

The presence that Yannick Ngakoue will add to the edge alongside Maxx Crosby who will draw more attention to themselves in order for the Raiders defensive tackles to have one-on-one opportunities – in which they'll definitely make the most out of when given to them. Add the veteran experience and leadership that Johnathan Hankins will add to the defensive line and the big boys in the middle should be looking pretty good.

Topper Lion asks...

"Do you think Trey Ragas has a shot? He is a total BEAST in his college film."

I actually briefly touched on Trey Ragas in the running backs edition of the 2021 Position Battle series.

Ragas is a running back I scouted from a distance last year, and I was very impressed with his downhill running and ability to break tackles. He dominated the Sun Belt Conference in his time at Louisiana-Lafayette. I believe the COVID-year affected his draft stock, but he was fortunate enough to get picked up as a undrafted free agent by the Raiders.

Ragas is the kind of ground-and-pound running back Head Coach Jon Gruden loves having in his backfield. Ragas, in my opinion, has a very similar skill set to the Raiders' RB1 Josh Jacobs, and while it's hard to evaluate players during OTAs and minicamp without pads, Ragas has stood out to me so far this offseason among the rookies.

While it will be an uphill battle for the small-school running back, there's no reason why he couldn't receive ample opportunities to prove himself in making the 53-man roster or practice squad this season.

Galo Orozco asks...

"What's going on with Divine Deablo?"

During minicamp, Coach Gruden addressed the status of linebacker Divine Deablo, who missed much of OTAs and minicamp with an undisclosed injury.

"He's out right now. We're very hopeful that he'll be ready to go for training camp," said Gruden.

The Virginia Tech product might be the most enigmatic of the Raiders 2021 draft picks. He played strong safety in college where he racked up over 200 tackles and six interceptions. He was advised to make the transition from safety to linebacker, a position that many believed would benefit him at the next level. The Raiders liked what they saw from Deablo during his Pro Day and at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and drafted him on Day 2.

While the former Hokie is on the mend and might be back during training camp, it will be very intriguing to see how he adjusts to playing the new position.

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