With the addition of eight players through the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders brought the total for new players this offseason to 21. When looking at the guys the Raiders have brought in, there are a few different themes that appear. But aside from the fact that there was a clear focus on building through the lines, the biggest and most omnipresent theme was versatility.
When looking at the free agents the Raiders brought in, Justin Tuck,LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard are all guys who offer the versatility of being able to play multiple positions or in multiple formations. General manager Reggie McKenzie then followed a similar strategy once the draft hit. Khalil Mack, Justin Ellis and Keith McGill are also guys who can play in multiple formations and at multiple positions.
The strategy, it would appear, is part McKenzie and part the desire of the coaching staff. On defense, the Raiders have head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, both of whom like getting creative with their defenses. The Raiders use a 4-3 base formation, but love flashing looks out of a 3-4. By having multiple fronts, the Raiders can keep offenses on their heels because they never know what is coming. With the players that McKenzie got these coaches, they should have a field day putting together a creative defense.
On the other side of the ball, offensive line coach Tony Sparano told McKenzie to go out and get him a bunch of versatile linemen who could play multiple spots and he would figure it all out. This way, the Raiders did not have to worry about what positions they went after, they just signed the best linemen they could get. Now, Sparano who is probably the most talented of anyone on the coaching staff, has a slough of guys he can plug and play as he pleases.
On both sides of the ball, McKenzie has given the coaches the players to be flexible with their designs. It will be a rather exciting year to see how the Raiders use these guys and all of the different looks Raiders fans and opposing coaches are in for.