NFL Network Analysts Daniel Jeremiah & Bucky Brooks
The Oakland Raiders offense was one of the most prominent groups in the league in 2016, finishing sixth in yards per game, 13th in passing yards per game, and sixth in rushing yards per game. Defensively, the Silver and Black did struggle at times, but Ken Norton, Jr.'s group improved throughout the year, and saw fourth-year defensive end Khalil Mack crowned 2016's Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.
Mack completed an impressive campaign that featured an eight-game sack streak, a pick-six, and five forced fumbles. When the Silver and Black drafted No. 52 in 2014, he was originally listed as a linebacker, but has converted into one of the elite defensive ends in the game. Last offseason, General Manager Reggie McKenzie entered free agency looking to add some linebacker depth, and he did just that. McKenzie acquired Super Bowl champion Bruce Irvin, and as well as linebacker Perry Riley, Jr., in the early stages of the regular season, but according to NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, the team could use more depth at the position in 2017.
"The Raiders need to improve on the second level of their defense," said Brooks on a conference call with the national media Wednesday afternoon. "They need to find more playmakers."
In the duo's most recent mock drafts, both have the Raiders selecting a linebacker with the 24th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Jeremiah believes, if he's on the board, the team will select Jarrad Davis out of the University of Florida, Brooks on the other hand, is under the impression the Raiders could wind up selecting Haason Reddick from Temple. While Brooks and Jeremiah have differing picks, they said either player could be a nice fit for the Silver and Black.
"Both guys could benefit the Raiders' defense," Brooks continued. "I think you're talking about guys that are similar in their approach to the game, their athleticism, the thump that they bring."
At 6'1", 237 pounds (Reddick) and 6'1", 238 pounds (Davis), both share similar physical attributes, but each boasts subtle differences in athletic ability on the field.
"Reddick gives you a little more pass-rush if you wanted some more of that to go along with," Jeremiah said. "Davis is more experienced on the inside. Again, I think two great players."
McKenzie is fond of building through the draft and supplementing through free agency. It remains to be seen what moves the current Executive of the Year will make in the forthcoming months, but Reddick and Davis have caught the attention of analysts around the league, and could potentially find themselves alongside Mack and Co. next season.
"Both the guys are playmakers. Davis has a little more thump to him in terms of his toughness. He can roam sideline to sideline, make plays," Brooks added. "Reddick may be more versatile. At Temple he was able to be an off-the-edge rusher, but went to the Senior Bowl and played inside. I think he gives them a lot of option, as they're trying to fine tune their defense. You can't go wrong with either player."