Options at DT for the Raiders in the first round of the draft

One of the biggest needs for the Oakland Raiders as they prepare for the 2017 season is help at the defensive tackle position. And while they could use a guy who is a run stuffer to replace Stacy McGee in the rotation, the first round is more likely reserved for a guy who is a pass rushing threat in addition to being able to stop the run.

The Raiders need to produce more sacks and a key in getting that done next year is getting more pressure from the interior of the defensive line. With that in mind, here’s a look at three guys in the first round who would fill that need for Oakland.

Jonathan Allen, DL
Round: First

At first glance, Allen looks like a great fit for the Raiders. He has that magical word Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders love: Versatility. Allen is sometimes listed as a defensive tackle and sometimes as a defensive end. That’s because he played all over the line in college and that’s part of what makes him so valuable.

The problem with that is the ever present “tweener” fear. Some think Allen doesn’t have enough speed or initial burst to be an elite edge rusher but he also lacks the strength and size to be playing exclusively at defensive tackle. People love him because he produced in college, is very good with his hands and has good athleticism for his size.

Allen could have entered the draft last season but opted to go back for one more year and it will likely pay off as he continued to improve. The only real concern is that Allen has had a nagging shoulder injury that has been an issue. If healthy, he’d be a great pickup but it’s also not likely he will be around at pick 24.

Malik McDowell, DT
Round: First

McDowell is another versatile lineman but is probably more of a defensive tackle who can also play end. And unlike Allen, McDowell is a guy who there is a good possibility the Raiders will have a chance at drafting.

What’s more, he’s a guy who really fills a need that the Raiders need to address ASAP: interior pass rush. McDowell is a bit raw and needs to work on a few areas like his hand work and developing more pass rushing techniques, but his upside is huge. He’s solid and has room to improve as a run defender so he’s a three down prospect. Adding him to the defensive line will go a long way towards the Raiders getting more sacks in 2017.

A big question for McDowell is his mentality. Some believe he will take plays off or even shut it down at times. Worth noting that similar things were said about guys like Mario Edwards, Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney and neither has really had issues with that in the NFL.

Caleb Bentley, DT
Round: First/Second

Bentley is another guy who fills the need for a pass rushing defensive tackle but doesn’t offer the same versatility as Allen and McDowell. There’s also some concern that he doesn’t have the ideal size or measurables (such as arm length) to excel at the next level.

What people do love about Bentley is his relentlessness. You name the trope and it’s probably been applied to Bentley: High motor, pitbull, toughness, real football guy, etc.

And while he’s seen as more of a pass rusher than run stuffer, he’s still a three down player who can help in run defense. He’s a step down from McDowell and Allen in large part because he’s seen as a guy with less potential. Good player who should be able to produce but perhaps lacks the potential to be elite.

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