When the Raiders chose Lamarr Houston out of Texas in the round 2 of the draft, the thinking was that he would play defensive tackle. Afterall, he is around 300 pounds and entered the draft as a DT. When Raider fans saw the Raiders draft him, the assumption was that he would fill the middle of the line next to Tommy Kelly. Afterall, the Raiders released Gerard Warren this offseason and are still uncertain of who will fill his shoes to anchor the middle of the line.
But Cable has other plans for Houston:
“I think Lamarr Houston will play defensive end in our scheme.” Cable said. “We expect the transition to be easy for him. He played it the first half of his college career, so there’s a lot of background there. He gives you a guy, again, that’s got the right qualities in terms of a football player, the power the speed, all those things. Very productive. Comes out of a program that’s used to winning, understands how to do that. And then more importantly to me he comes and fits a need for us, which is in the defensive front.”
This means the Raiders now have a glut of good defensive ends on the team. Richard Seymour and Matt Shaughnessy are for certain and it remains to be seen if either of the recently acquired hybrid OLB Quentin Groves or Kamerion Wimbley, will play outside linebacker or defensive end. Perhaps both?
If they are playing both then the Raiders are switching to the 3-4. Which means that there is an even bigger need (pun intended) for a run stuffing defensive tackle in the middle. It also means that Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant will likely be shifted to defensive end as they are both 3 technique defensive ends and too small to play nose tackle.
Currently the biggest defensive lineman the Raiders employ is Richard Seymour at 320 pound. But his skills would be wasted attempting to move him to nose tackle.
There are a number of ways they could go with the nice group of defensive players they have but none of those remedies the issue of not having an anchor for the middle of the defensive line.
Many have uttered the name of North Carolina DT Cam Thomas. He is still on the board and at 6’4″ 331 pounds, he certainly looks the part. The size aside, most just like his attitude.
“I love Guerilla warfare baby,” Thomas said, “That’s where you earn your stripes. I got my stripes. I can anchor that whole thing. Not everybody can play that position.”
There are a few other DT available as well that could be great additions. Arthur Jones out of Syracuse is a guy that was projected as an early to mid round 2 selection. He likely fell because he suffered an injury late last season that kept him out for the final three games. But he is definitely a guy worth taking a shot at in the fourth round.
Then again, the Raiders are in need of a fullback and may be looking at grabbing a quarterback so either of those could be their priority. But with Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison still on the team and still being shopped, the Raiders could easily end up with as many as three picks in round 4. And you can bet one of them would be a defensive tackle.
In addition to taking a DT in round 4, the Raiders will no doubt grab a good one in free agency. They always seem to find a gem there ala Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant.