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

  • Terrapin


  • Terrapin

    DBurgess as backup? OUCH!! Jerry you sure do know how to stoke the flames …now let me finish reading the piece, that was just worthy of immediate comment

  • Burgess and Scott as backups, and Jay a starter!!

    We need to trade Burgess, we have 3 pure pass rushers, and they can’t all be on the field at the same time.

  • Keep Ellis and Scott, and Trade Burgess!

  • Terrapin

    Well, well …this entry will sure draw some ire from the Raider fans (if everyone isn’t outside cooking out that is).

    First, I’ll say that I didn’t expect a great deal from Kelly last year coming off that major injury. This year I expect much better. It takes time for a player to re-approach the zenith of his potential after a major injury. They initially step on the field at some level lower than before.

    Now let me touch on the more controversial – DBurg as backup and the outlook for our DEs.

    Suffice to say, I didn’t (and to some extent still don’t) expect DB to be around. But if he is around would the Raiders, in reality – not fantasy land, make him a backup? Whew ..such a thought provoking question. In Reality, I just can’t see that happening. Al Davis would walk on the field and slap the new DCoord across the head with his cane if that transpired *and they don’t win or look good on D*. In reality, if DB is still here I see them inventing some cooked up package to keep them both on the field as much as possible. I can go on and on about this …so thought provoking it is.

    Underneath it all lies the question: What was/is the strategy behind bringing in Ellis, a 35 year old vet well past his prime? We can only speculate. Davis knows.

    What do I think should happen? JRich is playing out of position. He’s no speedy pass rusher so why is he at RDE? (Likely culprit here being DBs insistence on being LDE). I believe JRich should be at LDE. TScott should continue at RDE and I’m hoping he bulked up enough to be more effective vs the run – but he seems to be effective vs the pass – he is probably our speediest DE which should be paired against the opponents LT. Ellis probably plays the run better than DBurgess so he could get the nod at LDE and possess enough clout to move DBurgess to RDE. Alternate between Burgess/Scott at RDE and Ellis/Rich/Burgess at LDE.

    But those are only my elementary opinions. Feel free to rip them as you may.

  • Good Morning Nation.

  • Raider-405

    Thanks for the story Jerry!!

    Is it just me or did this review of “What could go wrong” seem a little more blunt than the other 5?

  • Terrapin

    So DBurgess can technically be a backup in my scenario if TScott gets more snaps at RDE; but not on paper I don’t think.

  • TK did well against the pass last year with him recovering from his injury, and he had 4.5 Sacks. He always did well against the pass, and so did Warren, but not much action against the run. IMO

    Warren also had 4 sacks and a FF.

  • Terrapin,

    I agree with post #5, but what about Matt shaughnessy?

  • Charlie

    Dline is the weakest unit on this team. A unit of mostly projects that Marshall will struggle with.

    Burgess has always been injury prone since his days in Philly.
    He is a situational player at best.
    Ellis may help depending on how much he has left.

    I would not be surprised to see Sands get cut and we move Richardson to DT like we did against Tampa.
    Sands is out of shape and does not produce. Terrible.

    The rest of the DE’s will need to sort themselves out.

    If Kelly does not emerge as a force we will get hammered by good Olines running the ball.

    We need a guy to help this unit in next year’s draft.

  • 408RAIDER

    Less than a week and well be getting the real fix. Oh and jerry we know the d line sucks. Thanks 4 the reminder tho.

  • Florida Pete

    thank god we nailed down a second round wideout…

    and a 6th round safety…

    at least we got that covered…

    or maybe not…

  • Who said Blunt?

    Legalize It!!!

  • 408RAIDER

    I have been praying 4 d line draft help for years. All i ever get is late round picks or ufa.

  • Wake & bake Raider O, I’m just getting to my 1st cup o’ coffee! What’s happenin’ my brother?

  • DHB & Murphy with Chaz and JLH, Walker if healthy, and Miller are good targets for JR.

    -Other than JLH, all the WR are 6’3 and can run.
    -We have a great rushing attack, we were ranked 6th and 10th the last 2 years.
    -We added 3 new Starters to our Oline unit.
    -Robo is gone, and Marshall did well at Seattle.

    This season should be interesting.

  • jhill

    Where these guys line up will be the first sign. If Burgess and Ellis are playing anywhere other than RDE, we are in big trouble.

    Richardson starting at DE also means trouble. Then again, if he can beat out however for the LDE spot, then it is what it is.

  • TW,

    I’m on the bench, working out!! 😉

    Enjoying a beautiful morning in SD, so I see you are back. I hope you enjoyed your visit, and that you will come back soon.
    Next time you visit, we should prepare better, so we can do more.
    BTW, it was great meeting your brother, he is a good man.

  • I’m still here, tryin’ to figure what to do today. I leave at 8pm. Any suggestions?

  • jhill

    I worry about Richardson holding the run as a DE, so moving him to DT concerns me. Unless he’s had some heck of an offseason in the wieght room, he may be on thin ice. I don’t think they draft Shaunessy if they are happy with Richardson.

  • I’m getting sick, Elway’s on the NFL chnnl, boy, I thought I look old!!

  • Charlie

    As has been said before we can not fix all of our problems in three drafts after the 2006 mess.

    I do see a deliberate focus on going with elite skill guys with our high picks drafting in the top ten. JR, Dmac and DHB are gifted skill position players.

    I would prefer to build the lines first but we are building from the outside in. The thought being that if we get to 8-8 and our first round pick is at number 14 or 15 we are better suited to get line help at that spot in the draft.
    I do believe next years draft will have a Dline and Oline focus.

  • TW,

    Yeah!! Come smoke!!

  • Bring your brother too. lol

  • I love Calif!!lol We’ll talk it over & see if you want to meet up & do something. What’s happenin’ in SD?

  • We’re thinking of all you can eat sushi later if you’re up to coming to LaGuna & meeting up, talk Rrraayyyddddaaahhhhsss.

  • It’s Sat, so you want to go to the beach area, OB & PB are great.

    You said you never been to Balboa Park, Correct? That’s a great place to visit, but you have to do it early. The museums and Gallery close early today.

  • jhill

    If O smokes you out, and you are near Balboa park, you HAVE to go to the zoo.

  • jhill

    I agree with you on next year’s draft, Charlie. I think we’ll see DT and LB early next year.

  • TW,

    I would love to bro, but I can’t make that drive today. My mom is with us on the weekends, so she can watch my daughter, so me and the wife can go out and have some alone time.

    My wife will kill me if I leave SD today! lol

  • Jhill,
    I don’t go to that Zoo, or any other Zoo like that. I don’t want to watch animals in that way. They spirits are broken, and they look sad. IMO

  • I’m on the bench, working out!!
    Yeah, doing those 30 ounce curls? lol working out those lungs! My Bro has a couple of things to drop off & we’ll talk about meeting. I booked the flight so early I didn’t know you & I would meet up. I could have stayed an extra day or two if I knew that.

  • *their spirits are broken,

  • They spirits are broken, and they look sad.
    You could jump in & give them a good run around. I’d love to get a picture of you riding a zebra with your Raider gear on!!! Black & silver on black & white. lol

  • TW,

    I can still meet you, but some where close to SD, like La Jolla, etc…

    It will be great to see you before you leave, so let me know.

  • Run with Me!!!
    I’m the lizard King, I can do anything!!
    Run with me!!!

    I’m working out too hard. lol

  • Dude

    Mmmmmm…. La Jolla. Best Italian joint on da west coast is in La Jolla

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Repost:exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    July 25th, 2009 at 6:25 am
    Morning All,
    From TMZ:
    Feds: Francis Paid Off Guards with Raider Tix
    Posted Jul 25th 2009 12:40AM by TMZ Staff

    Federal agents believe there’s a reason Girls Gone Wild kingpin Joe Francis had such a wonderful time during his 2007 jail stint in Reno — they claim he bought off his jailers with gifts, including tickets to see the Oakland Raiders!

    Three former Washoe County jail employees were arrested for allegedly taking all sorts of lavish gifts from the porn king in exchange for jail favors — like unrestricted phone use, the ability to sneak in food and protection from disciplinary action.

    According to the feds, Aaron Weinstein, one of Joe’s GGW producers played the role of delivery man — allegedly dropping off a slew of gifts to the jail employees, including a $4500 Cartier watch, a $5000 gift card to Sax Fifth Avenue, $3,200 in cash, a big screen TV, a home entertainment system, airline tickets, and, of course, tickets to see the Oakland Raiders lose.

    Weinstein was also arrested and charged with paying off a public official. If convicted, he faces up to 2 years in prison and serious cash fines.

  • Dude,

    What is the name of it?

  • Girls Gone Wild!!

    What a shame! Someimes I think we are not better than a talking monkey.

  • Burgess can’t start on this d line ? We’re in trouble if thats the case. I hope Marshall can make a difference.

  • AZ Raider2

    You people…

    D-line? Ehh…. No bright spots 🙁

    I’m taking the rockcrawler to the lake and put our D line as far out of my mind as possible. Draft Dline in 2010!!!!!!!

  • AZ Raider2

    You people…..

    Lol, I gotta stop that.

    Special teams Jerry! Let’s hear the good stuff! Punt returners?

  • doriangray


  • TW,

    Are you still here?
    Sorry bro, but I had to take care of a few things.

  • doriangray


  • doriangray


  • Why do you type in Caps? How much attention do you need?

  • doriangray