The Raiders may not officially be a 3-4 team next season but they have certainly hinted at going that direction. It may not even matter whether they switch schemes or not. Last season they flirted with it in different sets. On top of that, nearly every acquisition at outside linebacker of late has been a defensive end tweener.
If they do switch schemes, they will need to add an outside linebacker in the draft, if not more than one. If they stick with their schemes from last year, they could still use an upgrade on the weak side and depth behind Kamerion Wimbley on the strong side.
At defensive end, the starters are very solid but there is little in the way of a depth behind them. So the need is there and here are a few players who could fit the bill for the Raiders in this draft.
Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State - Round 3
He played primarily defensive end for the Bulldogs but due to his size (6-2, 240) he projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He is extremely polished as a pass rusher but lacks in experience dropping back into coverage. He was named first team All-WAC his last two seasons and was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year last season, a season that saw him tally 11.0 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Despite his pass rushing prowess, his size and speed (4.58) lend themselves to weakside linebacker. The Raiders held a private workout with him this offseason which was to be expected for a local, accomplished player at a position of need, such as Carter. He is also a home grown product as he grew up in Fontana, California and attended Fresno State.
Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada - Round 3-4
Moch has blazing speed (4.38) and was the fastest linebacker at the combine. He used his speed as a dominating defensive end in college. He set a new Nevada record with 30 sacks and 63 tackles for loss during his career. He is not big enough to play 4-3 defensive end at the NFL level and doesn't have the fluid hips that NFL people typically look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker. The name Vernon Gholston gets thrown around sometimes in comparison to Moch's skill set. In case you were wondering, that isn't a good thing. But these are just the reasons that would cause him to fall to round 3 or 4. His tape and his speed won't let him fall far. He hasn't had a lot of experience in coverage and could improve. And with that speed, the Raiders would be just the team to take that chance.
Mason Foster, OLB/ILB, Washington - Round 4
Foster can play inside or outside with equal competence. He is a very disciplined and instinctive linebacker which makes him ideal as an inside linebacker. He averaged over 115 tackles the last three seasons for the Huskies. His staggering 163 combined tackles last season was the most by a Pac-10 player since 1989. He was first team All Pac-10 in 2010 and Scout.com and Rivals.com both named him first team All-American. If the Raiders do indeed change over to the 3-4, his value to them would go up for his skills on the inside. He also is athletic and fast enough to play on the outside. He is more suited for the traditional 4-3 outside linebacker as he has limited experience rushing the passer -- which means that he would hold value for the Raiders regardless of which scheme they play next season, in much the same way they viewed Travis Goethel in last year's draft. However, there is a good chance another team would value his work as an inside or middle linebacker enough to take him as high as round 2. He too is a local product as he is from Seaside, California, just south of the Bay Area.
Brandon Bair, DE, Oregon - Round 5
Everything about him says that he is ideal for what the Raiders want in a defensive end. He has good size at 6-6, 276, with the frame to add more weight. He showed tremendous speed and perseverance off the edge helping to lead the Ducks' defense to the National Championship game. He was named second team All-Pac-10 as a senior. He had 16 tackles for loss playing at defensive tackle and translates very well to 3-4 defensive end at the NFL level. He plays very much like Matt Shaughnessy and is a converted tight end like Trevor Scott.
Bruce Miller, DE/OLB, Central Florida - Round 6
Miller was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. During those two seasons he totaled 31.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks. He was a pass rushing dynamo in college from the defensive end spot and could also play 3-4 outside linebacker at the NFL level. He has good size at 6-2, 259, and has improved his initial 4.81 40 time at the combine to a more respectable 4.67 at his Pro Day. His workout numbers don't jump out at you, but when you turn on the tape, his dominance is undeniable.
Mark Schiechl, DE/OLB, Colorado School of Mines - Round 7
The Raiders held a private workout for Schiechl. They, like a few other teams, wanted to get a closer look at the Division 2 all-time sack leader (46.0). He is also fourth all-time in career tackles for loss (70.5) so there is no question he can get in the opponent's backfield almost at will -- and his will is strong. He finished as runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Award last season. He also has decent speed at 4.65. Everything checks out for this small school stud to be a steal this late in the draft. The Raiders gained a compensatory pick in round seven and I can't think of a better way to spend one of them than on this relentless, high motor performer. At 6-2, 260 lbs he could play 4-3 defensive end and, with more work, he could develop into a 3-4 outside linebacker.
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I would take Schiechl in the 6th, possibly 7th round since LB isn't too much of a need for us right now. I think our starting 3 from strong to weak side will be Wimbley, McClain, and Goethel. I think Howard will be kept around for as long as Williams has been here and Ricky Brown will be huge contributors in the ST department and will be solid depth guys with starting experience. Groves, Scott, and Schiechl can be part of the rotaion on passing downs as pass rushers. I think Groves will be the fourth LB in our system. I like this look for a 3-4:
Here's my base 4-3:
I'm happy with the LBs we have especially if Goethel and Groves are able to make it hard for coaches to decide which one gets to start. McClain will only get better and Wimbley is our best defender hands down. I am a little concerned with the lack of depth we have in the pass rushing department though, especially since Scott is coming off of a knee injury during a season in which he struggled to find a home albeit due to coaching decisions. I think Goethel will emerge as the primary WLB in the 4-3 while Groves will make his money as a Nickel defender alongside McClain as Wimbley plays DE during those situations. Scheichl would be the best fit and would be added value as we would be able to obtain him late in the draft instead of using an early 3rd round pick on a guy like Chris Carter or Dontay Moch, while they are extremely talented; they won't be on the field a whole lot considering that there is talent in front of them and they would need sometime to learn the defense.