In 2010, the Raiders had some of the best defensive end play they have had in years. While they were able to consistently bring pressure to the quarterback, they were also able to upgrade the run defense from the position. And the play came from some surprisingly dominant young players.
In 2009, the starting defensive ends were Richard Seymour and Trevor Scott. Seymour played considerably well at the end position, but with his size, the Raiders thought he would be better served by moving inside to defensive tackle which is where he played last season. That was the right decision for Seymour and the Raiders, and it opened up the defensive end position for some young competition.
Here is how the position looks currently:
A round three pick in the 2009 draft, Shaughnessy broke out in a big way in his sophomore season. He wasn't given the start at the beginning of the season but the level of play from the end spot seemed to pick up dramatically when he came in the game. Trevor Scott was named the starter out of camp and despite remaining the starter through the first part of the season, you would never know it with the way he was overshadowed by Shaughnessy. The big defensive end was great in run protection and played with reckless abandon on his path to the quarterback. He led all Raider defensive linemen in solo tackles (43), while scoring seven sacks and many more pressures and hits on the quarterback. He has solidified the right defensive end position for the Raiders for years to come.
As a rookie round two pick out of Texas, the Raiders had high hopes for Houston. To begin the season, he didn't look all that good. He struggled in stopping the run and wasn't getting consistent pressure on the quarterback either. It seemed as if we were seeing why he slipped to the mid-second round. But at midseason, something clicked. Following the bye week, he caught fire. He had 20 of his 31 solo tackles in the final seven games of the season. No longer were teams able to use his side of the line as a throughway for their running game. After a few games, teams realized that was no longer an easy option, which forced them to attempt to run just as much through the left side of the line where the result was more of the same. Houston had teams kicking themselves for passing on him -- some teams passed on him twice. He too looks to be a staple at defensive end for the Raiders for a long time to come.
Trevor Scott has been moved back and forth from defensive end to weakside linebacker in the last couple of years. He was taken out of Buffalo as a round six pick to play defensive end, and instantly became a favorite, racking up quite a few sacks in his rookie season. With upgrades needed at weak side linebacker and the Raiders deploying some 3-4 looks, he was tried out there. He played quite well at linebacker but when the team traded for Quentin Groves, Scott was moved back to defensive end. He started the first few games of the season but did not look like the same level of pass rusher we had come to expect. Then he was injured and out for the final few games of last season. He is at very least a fine situational pass rusher and at best capable of starting and putting up 8-10 sacks in a season.
Jarvis Moss is a former first round pick by the Broncos. He was cut last offseason after never really making the transition to outside linebacker. He was a standout defensive end in college and the Raiders are hoping he can find his groove again. So far, there is no indication that he can. He was signed to a one year deal and is set to become a free agent so it remains to be seen if he will be back.
The two starters are outstanding and Trevor Scott is valuable depth, but there is nothing solid after that. The Raiders could get by on the players they have, providing there are no injuries. That is a precarious position to be in for any team so they could look to add another defensive end low in the draft or off the free agent scrap heap.
Roster status: Moderate
Also see position analyses:
Safety I Linebacker I Cornerback I Defensive Tackle I Special Teams
Quarterback l Running Back l Wide Receiver l Tight End l Offensive Tackle l Guard/Center