The 2021 NFL offseason has gotten off to another predictably unpredictable start.
The Raiders have been busy during the first stretch of free agency, clearing cap space to sign some major needs at several positions as well as re-sign key players back to the roster. The defense is currently shaping up to be vastly different from the 2020 season roster. The defensive side of the ball has been a concern for many, and a variety of questions regarding the future of the unit have been a hot topic.
Here's a couple of answers that I'm able to provide this week — as always feel free to continue to ask me more questions @theleviedwards on Instagram and Twitter.
Sam Boe asks...
Is there any urgency on adding a defensive tackle that can disrupt the pocket? Or are we content to roll with Hurst, Vickers, and Irving?
Honestly, I like how things are shaping up for the run defense.
As of Tuesday, five of the Raiders' eight confirmed new acquisitions have specifically addressed the defensive line. First, the Raiders confirmed that they've signed defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson from the Buffalo Bills. Jefferson will be beneficial in the Raiders' effort of adding more of a presence up the middle, along with David Irving getting more comfortable with the new defense for a full offseason. Jefferson's ability to rush off the edge also will give defensive end Clelin Ferrell more time to shift over to nose tackle in pass-rushing situations, which could make the defensive line more lethal with Maxx Crosby on the other side.
Then came the addition of Solomon Thomas, looking to revitalize his young career in Las Vegas after a leg injury sidelined him for most of the 2020 season. Add to Thomas defensive linemen Matt Dickerson and Darius Philon, announced earlier this week, and the Raiders have obviously made the line a priority.
And there's always the draft: If the Silver and Black do decide to get more help at the defensive tackle position, they could look at prospects like Iowa's Daivyon Nixon or Washington's Levi Onwuzurike.
Jonny McCormick asks...
Great job with our d-line. How are we going to address the secondary? And how will our signings affect our draft strategy?
Many people are still questioning what moves the Silver and Black will make in the secondary, especially with reports that Erik Harris has signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
While I do believe the Raiders will go after a veteran cornerback or safety to help lead the young secondary, going after elite pass rushers could help the current secondary as well. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have both been very expressive in expanding their draft capital and trusting the young assets in the secondary to step up. With the Raiders making a concerted effort to sign defensive linemen in free agency, it gives them the flexibility to target the secondary during the 2021 NFL Draft. With players such as Richie Grant, Jaycee Horn, Trevon Moehrig and Aaron Robinson available in the draft, it would make sense for the Silver and Black to continue the trend of starting young and fast in the defensive backfield.