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Oakland Raiders Looking to Blend Youth with Experienced Defense for Success in 2014 and Beyond

April 16th, 2014 at 1:51 PM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders used free agency to rebuild their defense for a second straight season. This time, Oakland was able to go after impact players and not just piece what they could together. As a result, the team should be far better on the defensive side of the ball. In order for that to happen, the Raiders are going to need huge contributions from their young players. 

'Justin Tuck: Calm Before the Storm.' photo (c) 2009, Heath Brandon - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

As of right now, the Raiders will have eight projected starters who are 28 years of age or older. Defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, Pat Sims and LaMarr Woodley fit that bill as well as linebackers Kevin Burnett, 32, and Nick Roach, 28. Cornerback Tarell Brown is 29, and safety Charles Woodson is 37. On the other hand, the Raiders have some youth in their defense to blend with that experience. Safety Tyvon Branch is 27. Cornerback DJ Hayden and linebacker Sio Moore are both 23 years old. Key rotational reserves like linebacker Miles Burris and defensive tackle Stacy McGee are 25 and 24 years of age. 

The Raiders will have far more options in 2014 because of their free agent signings, but the success of the defense will come down to how well head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver can incorporate and develop Hayden, Moore, Burris, and McGee for 2014 as well as the future because general manager Reggie McKenzie signed most of the veteran players to one or two year deals.

They will be able to work in more players than in 2013, when they had so little talent. The 2014 NFL Draft will provide another opportunity for the Raiders to add more youth and depth. Oakland has a veteran presence at all three position groups. Along the defensive line, Tuck and Woodley have Super Bowl wins on their resume. Roach was a captain of the defense last season and Woodson brings massive respect and Hall of Fame pedigree. That will help bring the younger players along and to help set up success beyond 2014.

 

Tags: Charles Woodson, Dennis Allen, DJ Hayden, Football, Justin Tuck, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Sio Moore

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