Raiders DT Latham Brings Hunger to Line

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Raiders DT Darius Latham
Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Darius Latham (75) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Based off of the stat sheet alone, one could surmise Darius Latham was nothing more than depth-filler on the Oakland Raiders defensive line. Yet, as we know, statistics don’t tell the entire story. Especially for a space-eating defensive tackle.


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It’s not difficult to be dismissive of Latham by casually looking at his tallied “production”. In a total of 308 snaps in 14 games, the former Indiana Hoosier was pegged with a total of 17 tackles (one for loss). For a 6-foot-4, 306-pounder that’s pretty “paltry”, right?

His biggest stat spreadsheet came in the two games against the Denver Broncos (seven total tackles, one for loss). Dubbed by scouts as a “dancing bear” and heralded as a strong run-stopper, Latham exhibited every bit of the skill in the November meeting between the two teams in Oakland. Despite being taller, Latham has a knack of getting low to gain leverage. Using his extremely long arms, he even flashed as a pass rusher — with a nifty spin move, by the way — by both containing and disrupting the quarterback. While Latham didn’t tally a sack, Khalil Mack got one thanks to the DT’s handiwork.

Forget the numbers. Throw it out the window. What Latham offers isn’t marked off by the league statistician. He occupies space. He forces the opposition to make a change. Football is a game of inches, and Latham has the physical tools and football IQ to force teams into making an adjustment. And in the hectic trenches, a mere inch is the fine line between glory and defeat. What he needs to find is consistency.

Gain that, and not only do you have a younger (22 years old) but cheaper ($540,000) option to fill the void left by Dan Williams ($4.5 million savings when he was cut). With shaky depth at the DT position, Latham has an excellent shot at gaining more playing time, if not starting. He’s still young and has plenty of growing to do. But he’s on a great start to becoming another gem unearthed by Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie post-draft.

Oh, and by chance you need stats, Pro Football Focus charted Latham with seven quarterback hurries. Not bad for a dancing bear, no? In essence, Latham can only help

 

Twitter: @JackAsspuria

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