Depending on what side of the ball you are talking about, The 2017 Oakland Raiders team draw various reactions. The Raiders offense plays sensationally. Many consider it the driving force of the team. On the other hand, the defense struggles mightily. The linebackers, a position thought to be a priority in the draft, was largely ignored. The back-end got some help through that avenue. Although drafting one corner is not a fix-all. The defensive line received the most help, though the defense as a whole is still considered a liability.
For all the negative press and comments, the defense quietly improved on all levels.This draft overflowed with defensive talent. It was considered by most draft experts to have potential game-changers at certain positions well into the 2nd round, namely cornerback.
Again, take an in-depth look to see where the Raiders improved. Start with the defensive line. Reggie McKenzie drafted defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the 3rd round and Treyvon Hester in the 7th. Vanderdoes provides an upgrade over Dan Williams from last year. Sunday, Vanderdoes was credited with four pressures on twenty snaps and owned the 3rd best pass rush productivity for interior linemen with twenty or more snaps via ProFootballFocus.com . Plus, Hester could be very good in the future. For now, he serves as a rotational player for Oakland. Again, both provide an upgrade from what the team rolled out every week last year.
To bolster the secondary, the Raiders drafted Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, and Shalom Luani. Luani looks primed to take over Reggie Nelson’s spot next year and both Conley and Melifonwu are both upgrades over current players on the roster, judging by their college tape.
Moreover, the Raiders defense was not going to be fixed overnight. That rarely happens in the NFL. Especially, with the stars that will need paydays shortly in Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper. The defense will take a year or two to catch up to the offense. However, make no mistake, this was the first step in that process. By getting rid of the overinflated contracts that and exchanging them for cheap drafted talent in the next few years, the defense will be well on its way.
Finally, the defense took a step in the right direction this weekend, holding the Titans offense to ten points in the first half, and six in the second. Mariota was pressured often up the middle by the defensive line and could never get a rhythm. The defense also held Demarco Murray to 44 rushing yards. The Titans’ offensive line graded out as the 5th best run blocking line at the end of 2016 per http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol2016. This Raiders team is on the rise, and the defense will only get better as the season goes on.