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What are the Raiders’ defensive line options in the draft?

Updated April 19, 2024 - 12:33 pm

Defensive tackle was among the Raiders biggest needs entering this offseason.

Then came free agency.

The Raiders made a splash in the middle of the defensive line by signing the dynamic and charismatic Christian Wilkins.

So much for that need.

The Raiders are also strong on the edge. Superstar Maxx Crosby almost never takes a play off on one side. Last year’s first-round pick, Tyree Wilson, and 2023 breakout performer Malcolm Koonce will compete for snaps on the other.

The Raiders have nice young depth pieces as well, meaning they don’t have a lot of glaring holes on the defensive line. They could still add at the position during the NFL draft, which begins Thursday. Teams can never have enough pass rushers.

Here’s a look at prospects who could fit the Raiders:

First round

Overview: The Raiders have the 13th overall pick. They probably won’t use it on a defensive lineman after signing Wilkins, but it’s not impossible.

Illinois’ Jer’Zhan (Johnny) Newton from Illinois and Texas’ Byron Murphy are strong interior prospects who could take the Raiders’ defensive line from good to elite. Florida State’s Jared Verse and Alabama’s Dallas Turner also could be in the mix on the edge.

First-round strategy: The Raiders would need to fall in love with a defensive lineman to take them with their first-round pick. It could happen given who’s available.

Perfect match: UCLA’s Laiatu Latu. His relentless style has been compared to Crosby, and the Raiders’ star has even gone out of his way to sing Latu’s praises. That endorsement has to count for something.

Second and third rounds

Overview: This is where the Raiders could get serious about adding a defensive lineman. There should be solid choices.

Penn State edge rushers Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson could be available the second day of the draft. So could Missouri’s Darius Robinson, Washington’s Bralen Trice and Utah’s Jonah Elliss.

On the interior, Michigan’s Kris Jenkins played a huge role in the Wolverines’ national championship run. Clemson’s Ruke Orhorhoro is another intriguing player who also has the versatility to play outside.

Second- and third-round strategy: The Raiders have enough options that they should only pull the trigger if the right player falls in their lap.

That could certainly happen.

Perfect matches: Why would you ignore Crosby? The other player he praised is Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske, whom Crosby called a “dog.” Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat also could be a fit.

Rounds four through seven

Overview: This is when the Raiders could start bolstering their defensive line depth.

There should be plenty of options.

A player such as Houston Christian edge rusher Jalyx Hunt didn’t play elite competition, but he had dominant moments on film. Troy’s Javon Solomon faces similar questions, but defended the run and pass well in college.

Duke’s DeWayne Carter and Miami’s Leonard Taylor III are among the names to watch on the interior.

Late-round strategy: Crosby was a fourth-round pick. So it never hurts to add developmental pieces in the draft in the hopes of hitting another home run.

Perfect matches: Carter. He’s a good athlete who never stops working. He could play just about anywhere on the defensive line if a coach turns him loose.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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