Draft outlook: Defensive Tackle

This is one story in a series regarding the 2004 NFL Draft, looking at each position and how it pertains to the Oakland Raiders needs. Today, we look at defensive tackle: <BR><BR>

What the Raiders have: In terms of credentialed players, Oakland is stacked at this position but it's reasonable to wonder how much each player can produce at this stage because except for fourth-year man Chris Cooper, the rest are on the North side of 30.

The Raiders, who are likely to employ more 3-4 looks under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, signed Ted Washington (New England) and Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay) as free agents. Washington helped the Patriots win their second Super Bowl in three seasons but is also 36 and, at that age, there's no way of telling "when" a player will significantly decline. Sapp has also been in a three-year decline after playing at the really elite level from 1995-2000.

Oakland, which lost Rod Coleman (Atlanta) via free agency, envisioned having John Parrella and Dana Stubblefield as its run-stuffing tandem but both were slowed by injuries and combined to play in only 13 games. Parrella, who finished the season on injured reserve after sustaining a groin injury, is likely to play end in the 3-4 alignment and is expected to be back at full strength.

Stubblefield on the other hand is less of a certainty. Stubblefield said that new head coach Norv Turner told him he fits into his plans. Then again, with the Raiders, the head coach is often the last person to know. Cooper, meanwhile, is capable of starting if necessary but is better suited as a change of pace player in the rotation.

What the Raiders might do: Things look glowing on paper and on reputation but Oakland could use a look toward eyeing one for the future at this position.

Oakland might take a defensive tackle late on Day One. If it goes in that direction, Clemson's Donnell Washington, Oregon State's Dwan Edwards, LSU's Chad Lavalais could be available as possible second or third round picks.


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