Draft outlook: Defensive end

This is one story in a series of position outlooks pertaining to the Oakland Raiders and the 2005 NFL draft. Today, we look at defensive end:

What the Raiders have: The Oakland Raiders move to a 3-4 defense was not the smashing success they envisioned.

The Raiders moved Warren Sapp from tackle to end when they signed him as a free agent and he produced just 2.5 sacks. Sapp looked, to put it mildly, unproductive at end. Some people argue that making a position change contributed to his uneasiness but Sapp was in a three-year statistical decline before Oakland signed him.

Oakland also tried Tyler Brayton, a defensive end by trade, at linebacker and that move did not pan out either. Brayton is clearly better suited to playing end.

The Raiders resigned Bobby Hamilton, who will never be a superstar but the 33-year old brings intangibles such as leadership. Oakland signed Derrick Burgess as a free agent but can it honestly expect a guy with 8.5 career sacks solve their pass rush woes?

What the Raiders might do: To put it nicely, the Raiders need a pass rusher in the absolute worst possible way but will they get one? With the exception of a seven-sack performance against the immobile Drew Bledsoe in a game against Buffalo, Oakland's pass rush was the equivalent of Claude Reins.

Keep in mind, Oakland traded away the No. 7 overall pick in the draft to acquire wide receiver Randy Moss. In addition, quality pass rushers are also at a premium – meaning most every team needs one but it's the hardest to fill. Many people, when talking about quarterbacks, say for every Peyton Manning there's a Ryan Leaf. Pass rushers can be viewed the same way. For every Dwight Freeney there's Courtney Brown.

The earliest Oakland can hope to address this need is the second round. Various draft boards, including the Sporting News, have Wisconsin's Erasmus, Oklahoma's Dan Cody or Notre Dame's Jason Tuck as players who would be available for Oakland to take.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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