One story in a series of the 2003 NFL Draft, held April 26-27, outlook by position as it pertains to the Oakland Raiders. Today – a look at defensive end:
The Raiders, who hold the 31st and 32nd picks, enter the draft with defensive end as their biggest need. Oakland lost Regan Upshaw, who was released in a cost-cutting move, to Washington. Upshaw made a remarkable comeback after suffering a torn ACL in a June mini-camp noncontact drill. Upshaw, however, became expendable because he did not provide enough of a pass rush relevant to his salary.
This position is also a need because a neck injury in Week 9 eventually forced Tony Bryant to inured reserve and he still has not been cleared to play. Oakland restructured Trace Armstrong's contract. The 37-year old, however, is nothing more than a situational pass rusher at this stage of his career but he has landed on IR the last two seasons.
Kenyon Coleman, a fifth-round pick last season, played in just one game last season and figures to get a more extended look. DeLawrence Grant, a third-round pick in 2001, showed promise in the 14 games he started. Chris Cooper is a solid backup who is capable of playing end or tackle but seems better suited to end.
The Raiders, however, need to address this position in case Bryant is not cleared. Nebraska's Chris Kelsay, Texas Cory Redding and Colorado's Tyler Brayton would likely be available when Oakland picks.
Kelsay had his moments of dominance but struggled with a hamstring injury as a senior. Conversely, Brayton elevated his stock with an outstanding senior season. He has limited experience as an end but is a versatile player. Redding is a high energy player but his less-than-ideal speed may limit his skills as a pass rusher.