Camp analysis: Defensive line


Sixth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with players scheduled to report to training camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: DE Greg Ellis, DT Gerard Warren, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Jay Richardson. Backups: DE Derrick Burgess, DE Trevor Scott, DT Terdell Sands, DT Ryan Boschetti, DT William Joseph, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DE Greyson Gunheim, DE Derrick Gray, DE-DT Desmond Bryant.

When Greg Ellis was cut by Dallas and was inserted immediately into the Raiders starting lineup, it was either to send a message or an acknowledgment that a 35-year-old veteran headed toward the downside of his career was immediately superior to what was already on hand. Probably a little of both. The issue across the board among the returning players has been one of consistency in terms of a pass rush, and in getting pushed around against the run. Of the newcomers, Ellis’ found his snaps were limited against run-heavy teams such as the New York Giants _ not a good omen. Boschetti barely played for Washington, although Tom Cable considers him an excellent run defenders. The Raiders are giving Kelly a mulligan based on his knee surgery (although it makes you wonder about the wisdom of sinking $18.125 million guaranteed into a player who needs a mulligan). It’s now or never for Sands, who dropped some weight in hopes of achieving some of the promise he had after a strong 2006 season. Scott had five sacks and appears to be gradually building himself into an end who can do more than just rush the passer. The hope with Burgess is that he explodes in a salary drive year. Gunheim’s season-ending performance in Tampa Bay should give him a chance to stick.

The key battle: Shaughnessy vs. Richardson. A defensive end who can hold his edge, stand his ground against the run and allow a swift linebacking crew to come in and clean up would be huge. Richardson looks the part, but hasn’t produced. The Raiders would love to see Shaughnessy be that player.

What I think: Forget about starting Burgess. He rarely practices anyway. Just put him on the field for 12 to 15 plays in pass rush situations, turn him loose, and hope he’s got enough left on limited snaps for eight to 10 sacks in a salary drive year. Give the bulk of the work to Ellis, Scott and Shaughnessy. Having done little to shore up the middle other than sign Boschetti, the Raiders are gambling that Kelly, Sands and Warren will all be better and more consistent players with a new coordinator in John Marshall and a new line coach in Dwaine Board.

What could go wrong: Burgess can’t stay healthy, Kelly joins Javon Walker, Gibril Wilson and DeAngelo Hall as a flop in the spending spree of 2008 and Ellis begins to show his age.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Dorian,

    LMAO @ 63 bro!

  • Crow

    Having done little to shore up the middle other than sign Boschetti, the Raiders are gambling that Kelly, Sands and Warren will all be better and more consistent players with a new coordinator in John Marshall and a new line coach in Dwaine Board.


    Gods help us. Gods help us all.

  • “STD from Germany”


    German STD : German Engineering!!
    Just like Sham Wow!


  • 73rdraider

    Our D-line has been a major problem for the last six years. Richardson over Burgess? I should work for the newspaper. Won’t happen. Why would the Raiders pay Burgess to sit on the bench? He is the best DE we have. Have we forgotten about his performance on the field or are we just using his unhappiness as a reason why Trevor Scott is better? No team in the NFL is calling for Trevor Scott. No disrespect because I like the kid but he is no Derrick Burgess yet. And jay Richardson is Definitely no Trevor Scott. So to sum up my Blog Burgess will start and Burgess will play hard this year. This is the last contract he will ever receive in the NFL worth playing for and he will. He did it in Philly and we cashed him out. Now he will do it in Oakland and someone else will cash him out. Hopefully in the mean time we can develop Trevor, Jay, Shuaghnessy and Gunheim.

  • 73rdraider

    The best DT in the history of the Oakland Raiders is Otis Sistrunk. He was a monster period. So much so that Al Davis allowed a 3-4 defense in Oakland. Of course for the elders they would say that he was also surrounded by greats at all positions which is in fact a very true statement. But he was a catalyst and he got after the QB on every play. If you look at the Raiders in the 60’s on defense chances are NO.60 was there. He was Tough and Nasty and he didn’t care who knew. We have all the talent in the world. Speed, Strength, Hands, Size, and Agility all across the board. What we don’t have is Toughness, Grit, Nastiness, Anger and Determination. Get angry Dammit. What happened to our Pride and our Swagger. We are the Oakland Raiders for crying out loud and we have been soft for six years. Lose getting ran around but don’t lose getting ran over. It goes against the Foundations which the Raiders were built upon. My hope is that the Cable Guy can reach this team and make them understand that all they have to do to win is to play to win expect to win and then go beat the crap out of the other team and win. It really is that simple. D-line needs to get nasty and stop playing like Varsity Powderpuff runner ups. It sickens me.

  • ohioraider

    Sistrunk was an end who played in the 70s. Tom Keating deserves mention as one of our best tackles. He played mostly in the 60s and early 70s.

  • Abdul_Bolt_Backer

    The Raiders’ defensive line couldn’t stop a PAC 10 team from running the ball.

    The Raiders ranked 31st in the NFL vs. the run.

    Only the 0-16 Lions were worst.

    The Raiders are the NFL’s version of a toilet overflowing: Mismanaged, lousy personnel, clueless coaching, and a myopic fan base.

    Phillip Rivers vs. the Raiders 1.000 winning %.

    JaMarcus Russell vs. the Chargers: .000 winning %.

    The AFC West bully is the Chargers.