Lets look at the defensive line as a whole, which many of us declared the weakest link of hte team last season
Sapp’s retirement frees up Kelly to play the 3 tech DT spot, something he had rarely been able to do but we always wanted him to do. He should do well. I expect him to do well. Losing Sapp is not a real tragedy, because although he could play, he was also slowing. Sapp knows Kelly will do well at his old spot.
Warren could play the 3 tech spot, BUT even when Sapp was out of the game last year it was Brayton and not Warren playing the 3 tech spot. Warren is pretty good run defender as well and is more than capable of playing the other DT spot and also applying pressure. I expect him to start along with Kelly. Kelly also played well along with Sands in 2006 so expect that alignment quite a bit as well.
Sands is the run stuffer, and hopefully he can play up to his contract…because we can’t really get rid of him with that contract.
Burgess has been a liability against the run, and his pass rushing didn’t turn on until the second half last season. Its tough to know what to expect from Burgess this season. Also, the fact Burgess plays LDE makes him slightly overrated because he is consistently beating the RT and not the LT. I like Burgess, don’t get me wrong, but even Rob Ryan says he thinks Burgess needs to gain some pounds.
Richardson is starting caliber and he played pretty well last season. However, he would be even more effective at LDE the place currently occupied by Burgess. He is also a much better run defender than pass rusher, but he has a good motor and he could really do well on the LDE side. Also, Richardson is good at batting down passes being that he is 6′ 6″ and has long arms which means right handed QBs might have more trouble if he played LDE.
Gholston or Chris Long would be great fits for us both for different reasons.
Richardson can play both DE spots, which makes him easy to rotate in for any DE needing some air. Gholston/Long, Burgess and Richardson is a very nice DE rotation in a scheme that MUST get pressure from their front 4.
Either way Richardson is going to get on the field. He can take over for Burgess in two years when Burgess will want a big deal at age of 32. Drafting a DE also provides insurance against a Burgess holdout. The Raiders are notorious for making it known to players they will get paid when their deal is up and we expect players to fulfill their contracts.
Monetarily it makes the most sense of any position to draft a DE. We have very little money tied up at DE, unlike DT, RB, S, CB. Offensive Line and Linebacker don’t make sense for other reasons.
We also only have two DE on the roster.
I wouldn’t rule out McFadden, but with two top 5 DEs in the draft I think the Raiders are playing it smart and preparing for the possibility they draft a DE. Think about this, we drafted Moses and Richardson last season and with Clemons gone. We have nothing to show for that 3rd rounder. We perceived a reason to draft a DE last season with the 3rd pick and managed to lose the guy that took his roster spot. Logic would tell you the team perceives a need at DE still.