It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about Oakland Raiders NT Justin Ellis needing to step his game up. But now, it looks like he might not be a good fit for the Raiders’ starting defensive lineup. With new DC John Pagano’s arrival, the Raiders appear to be doing things differently these days.
Even though Pagano runs a 3-4 system, he prefers his defensive line including NTs to be penetrators. All three down lineman will shoot one gap instead of anchoring first to play two or three. Against the run, Raiders LBs will have to get in their fits according to the 1-gap penetration of the line.
Brandon Mebane is a penetrator that played NT in Pagano’s system for the then San Diego Chargers last year. Having penetrators on the defensive line most of the time will help the Raiders’ interior pass rush. The 6’3″, 335-pound Ellis isn’t a penetrator so he may end up being short yardage specialist.
Right now, the Raiders have 2017 7th-round NT Treyvon Hester taking most of the reps with the 1st-team. It’s just minicamp without pads but coaches don’t just give 1st-team reps away for no reason. The Raiders are preparing themselves to play with penetrators at the NT position.
Del Rio said of Hester at a post minicamp practice press conference:
“For all the big guys, it’s more about what they do when we get the pads on but it looks like he’s got a natural ability to rush inside, interior push and I look forward to seeing that in pads.”
We can’t forget that 2017 3rd-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes, who can’t attend minicamp because of school, is also coming.
The interior defensive line will get an overhaul around Mario Edwards Jr.!
Just win baby!