Raiders check out defensive end prospect

The Raiders have targeted their defensive line as an area in need of upgrade this offseason. One player who seems to have caught their eye at the NFL Scouting Combine this week is Cincinnati defensive end Connor Barwin.

According to NFL expert Ed Thompson, the Raiders were one of 14 teams who conducted formal interviews with Barwin, who originally projected as a second-round pick but may sneak into the first round following his showing at the Combine.

Barwin had a very strong workout, finishing first among defensive linemen in the vertical (40.5), Three-Cone (6.87) and in the 20-yard shuttle (4.18) drills. He was also tied for first in the broad jump and finished second in the 40.

Oakland, which scored a hit with sixth-round pick defensive end Trevor Scott last season, could be looking to stock up another young defensive end with an eye on the future. The Raiders released veteran defensive end Kalimba Edwards earlier this week while two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess has been seeking a new long-term contract for the club -- with no success -- for some time now.

Barwin is a multi-threat weapon. He was a very productive tight end early in his college career before making the switch to defensive end for the 2008 season. The results were impressive: 11 sacks, 15 ½ tackles for losses and seven passes knocked down.

Barwin could make play on special teams, as well. He blocked three kicks during his senior season at Cincinnati.

Although some envision him making the move to outside linebacker in the NFL, Barwin was listed exclusively as a defensive end at the Combine.

"He's a solid second-round selection who could creep up into the late first round if he keeps showing like that," Thompson told SBI. "(Barwin is) an immediate impact player … who really lives in the opponent's backfield. Very athletic at his position."

Thompson will release a more detailed interview with Barwin soon.

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