The Raiders have an impressive duo on the edge in Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, but they still only managed 25 sacks on the year. Mack had 11 and Irvin had seven.
The interior line deserves a lot of the blame, but after a quiet rookie year from third-round pick Shilique Calhoun, the Raiders are in the market for a third pass rusher that could spell Mack and Irvin at times. While those guys are machines who don’t like to leave the field and seem to get better in the fourth quarter, imagine how much better they’d be if they got a blow every once in a while.
Outside of quarterback, edge rusher is one of the league’s premier positions and that’s why a guy like Myles Garrett is the likely No. 1 pick and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas could follow shortly after. The Raiders won’t be in the mix for any of the top guys here — even if you don’t draft for need, it’s impossible to ignore the team’s holes at linebacker, defensive tackle and slot corner and those can’t be ignored.
The Top Five
1. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (6-4, 272) — The closest thing to a Khalil Mack-Von Miller caliber player in the draft, Garrett appears ticketed for Cleveland at No. 1 overall. Has shown ability to disrupt the passing game with an athletic rush but also can get tackles for losses against the run. Battled through knee injury as junior to finish with 8.5 sacks, his lowest total in three years as a starter.
2. Solomon Thomas, Stanford (6-3, 273) — There’s every possibility Thomas will slide inside and play a three-technique on some downs, but outside is where they money is made and what will conceivably get the Stanford product picked as high as No. 2 overall. Work ethic is beyond reproach. Had seven penalties for guessing wrong on the snap count.
3. Derek Barnett, Tennessee (6-3, 259) — Lacks the classic length and first-step explosion coaches like, but his production in the SEC is unquestioned. Had 20.5 tackles for loss as a freshman and last season as a junior had 12 sacks and 18 stops for losses. Those who believe in tape more than projection of skills will love him.
4. Takkarist McKinley, UCLA (6-2, 250) — Linebacker size but can play in a 3-4 with his hand down. Former Cal recruit didn’t qualify academically out of Kennedy High in Richmond, got grades in order at Contra Costa College then blossomed at UCLA as a senior with 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and six pass breakups. Accomplished that without anything close to an arsenal of hand skills or polished moves.
5. Taco Charlton, Michigan (6-6, 277) — Moved outside for his senior year after playing tackle and flourished with 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Could fit as a 4-3 end despite size is considered a possibility for a 3-4 outside linebacker because of his quickness and athleticism.
Keep an eye on: Jordan Willis, Kansas State (6-3, 255) — Will either be an outside linebacker or pass rushing end, and his “tweener” measurements are cause for concern. What is not an issue for Willis is productivity. He shows up on every play to the point where his 11.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles seem almost an afterthought.
Others: Charles Harris, Missouri (6-3, 253), T.J. Watt, Wisconsin (6-4, 252), DeMarcus Walker, Florida State (6-4, 280), Tim Williams, Alabama (6-4, 244).
Depth chart: Khalil Mack (6-3, 252), Bruce Irvin (6-3, 260), Shilique Calhoun (6-4, 251), James Cowser (6-3, 244), Jelani Jenkins (6-0, 240).
Last five drafted: Shilique Calhoun (third round, Michigan State, 2016), Max Valles (sixth round, Virginia, 2015), Khalil Mack (first round, Buffalo, 2014), David Bass (seventh round, Missouri Western, 2013), Jack Crawford (fifth round, Penn State, 2012).