Because the Raiders’ pass rush was woeful in 2018 (just 13 sacks), edge rusher has been listed as the team’s primary need this offseason.
So, when evaluating their prospects in the draft at No. 4 overall, the Raiders certainly could take Ohio State’s Nick Bosa or Kentucky’s Josh Allen (if either is still available) and fill that need.
But some draft analysts believe the Raiders might go a different direction and draft Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Though the Raiders already have a pair of good, young defensive tackles in Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall, drafted in 2018, Williams might simply be too good to ignore, if he’s available.
And Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, at the NFL combine this past week, hinted that his team isn’t going to just think about getting an edge rusher and ignore someone as talented as Williams.
“I think edge pressure sometimes is perceived to be the most important, but the closest you are to the quarterback is right in front of you,” Gruden told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, referring to defensive tackles. “And we won a championship (in Tampa Bay and) Warren Sapp was a big part of that and when we were in Green Bay, Reggie White was a big part of that.
“If the quarterback can’t step up, it really helps your edge rushers and that’s important. We drafted two young pass rushers inside last year and we might be in the market for another one.”
Williams was dominant at Alabama this past season as a sophomore, collecting 71 tackles – including 19½ for loss – with eight sacks in 15 games. He finished eighth in the Heisman voting, and the 6-foot-4, 289-pounder had a terrific combine performance, showing speed, quickness and agility. He played defensive end as a freshman and was switched to tackle in his second year.
If Gruden and GM Mike Mayock believe Williams is the best player available, they could select Williams at No. 4 and then try to get an edge rusher with either the 24th or 27th pick in the first round.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Gruden-Hints-Raiders-Could-Draft-Defensive-Tackle-506708401.html.