With the departures of Desmond Bryant, Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Lamarr Houston will enter training camp as the elder statesman of the Raiders front seven. Not only will Houston be expected to take on a leadership role on the team, he is also expected to be the Raiders most important player on defense.
On paper, the Raiders defensive-line looks thin, which does not bode well for the perennially weak defense of the silver-and-black. Reggie McKenzie decided to pass on a defensive lineman during the first few rounds of the NFL draft, and he looks content going into the season with the current crop of underachievers.
Although McKenzie did not add talent on the defensive-line, he did add some good players to the now-stacked linebacker position. The Raiders will have Miles Burris, Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava and Sio Moore all vying for playing time. With so many options at linebacker, it looks like the Raiders will finally use the hybrid scheme that Dennis Allen used with the Denver Broncos.
In order for the Raiders defense to become successful, Houston will need to have a huge year because he is the Raiders’ best interior pass rusher, as well as their best defensive end. Houston will be the anchor of the front seven when the Raiders run multiple schemes as he will be expected to lineup as both a defensive tackle and defensive ends during the season.
Essentially, Houston will finally fill the role that Seymour was supposed to fill when Al Davis traded for Seymour a few years ago.
The Raiders are expecting a huge season from Houston because if he were to struggle, the Raiders would have a hard time running a hybrid scheme. Opposing teams’ running backs would already be five yards down the field before the Raiders linebackers would be able to make the tackle.
Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie spent the whole offseason building the defense around Houston and we will soon find out if that was a mistake.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras