Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

January 15, 2008
On to the defensive tackles

Yesterday, I looked at the Raiders needs at defensive end. Now it's time to examine who the Raiders might have back at defensive tackle.

Many of the Raiders problems stopping the run had to do with their inability to control the middle of the line of scrimmage.

That’s why Lane Kiffin will address the middle of the defense, probably in the first round, of the NFL Draft in April.

One area the Raiders defensive tackles were especially bad at were occupying blockers. Too often opposing offensive linemen ran freely and blocked linebackers and even safeties.

This is an ongoing problem the Raiders figured they solved by retaining Terdell Sands last year.

At 6-foot-7 and listed at 335 pounds (but if he’s that light, I’m 100 pounds), Sands was going to be the answer to teams gashing the Raiders in the middle.

Sands showed flashes in 2006 (a contract year) that he could do that. And as teammates joked, he was so big that all he needed to do was stick an arm out to knock down a running back.

But after signing a four-year deal with $4 million guaranteed, Sands lost his starting job by Week 3. Only an injury to Gerard Warren got Sands back in the starting lineup.

There were times (really) when Sands was effective. It just wasn’t often enough. Lane Kiffin said the problem with Sands is he didn’t play with good pad level, too often standing tall and becoming an easy target for blockers.

Gerard Warren was acquired just before the regular season and at times was disruptive, particularly in the passing game. He came at a bargain because Denver had paid most of salary in bonuses before the trade.

He wouldn’t be a bad player to bring back at the right price, especially if the Raiders draft Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis and use Warren in a rotation along with Sands.

The Raiders have neglected the positon for too long, looking for free agents like Ted Washington and Warren Sapp or finding undrafted players to fill the void.

Kiffin intends to draft a player that can start immediately in the first round. So either Sands or Warren would be a backup next year if the Raiders draft a defensive tackle.

That would favor Warren being gone considering the Raiders have made a nice investment in Sands and Davis hates the notion of wasting money.

The Raiders will have to decide if they want to pay Warren the remainder of the six-year, $36 million deal he signed in 2006.

Outside of these two, the Raiders are thin at defensive tackle. Warren Sapp retired. Josh Shaw was a practice squad player that ended up inactive most of the time after being called up.

Tommy Kelly and Tyler Brayton both played defensive tackle. Both also might be better suited at defensive end.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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