A look at how the Raiders defense is coming together thus far

Seven days into NFL free agency, the Raiders have almost entirely focused on defense. That holds true for the team’s most recent two signings: linebacker Kevin Burnett, who signed on Sunday, and defensive tackle Vance Walker who signed on Monday.

This trend comes with good reason. The Raiders had a lot of problems last season. The biggest problem was probably Rolando McClain and his inability to tell police his real name. But a close second was how a stop sign would probably be more effective at stopping offenses than the Raiders’ defense. So, it’s the least bit shocking that Reggie McKenzie has been focusing on that side of the ball this offseason.

There’s a lot of offseason left and the Raiders obviously aren’t finished adding and re-signing those cheap, second-tier free agents they have no other choice but to sign love so much. But here’s how Oakland’s defensive depth chart stacks up as of writing (asterisks denote new signings):

Defensive tackle:
1. Pat Sims*
2. Vance Walker*
3. Christo Bilukidi
4. Johnny Jones
5. Brandon Bair
6. Tommy Kelly (potentially could be cut soon)

Left defensive end:
1. Lamarr Houston
2. Jack Crawford

Right defensive end:
1. Jason Hunter

Weakside linebacker:
1. Kevin Burnett*
2. Miles Burris
3. Keenan Clayton
4. Rolando McClain (expected to be cut)

Middle linebacker:
1. Nick Roach*
2. Travis Goethel

Strongside linebacker:
1. Kaluka Maiava*
2. Kaelin Burnett

1. Phillip Adams
2. Chimdi Chekwa
3. Coye Francies
4. Brandian Ross
5. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Strong safety:
1. Tyvon Branch

Free safety:
1. Corey Nelms

Something to note: if the Raiders switch to a 3-4 base defense—and there is talk that that might happen—Miles Burris is likely the fourth starting linebacker.

But it’s still clear a lot of work needs to be done. Like a lot of work. McKenzie will definitely be earning his paycheck.

It’s possible the Raiders aren’t done adding linebackers, either, with the plan to have a competition in training camp to determine the starters. But that’s just spitballing. The corps of linebackers thus far appears adequate enough to allow the Raiders to divert their free agency attention elsewhere.

But the most glaring weakness in this snapshot, though, is the secondary (even after getting rid of Michael Huff). Yet, the team is reportedly still in the mix to land cornerback Terence Newman.

The Raiders could also also address the secondary with the third overall selection in the draft (say, Alabama CB Dee Milliner), or they could go D-line (maybe, Florida State DT Sharrif Floyd), or maybe they focus on the other side of the ball, namely the offensive line (like, a bunch of dudes).

But it’s clear the Raiders have a lot of weaknesses, not just on the defense. That’s why this site supports the idea of the team trading down in the draft to enhance its currently sparse collection of picks.

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