Raiders DT Justin Ellis set to take on a much bigger role

Most Oakland Raiders fans have their attention focused on the linebacker position and with just cause. It was one of the biggest needs heading into the offseason and the Raiders only added two players, neither of which appears to be a day one fix for the linebacker problem.

But while others stress about the linebackers, my attention has been focused on defensive tackle. Another big position of need for the Raiders, defensive tackle saw even less action than linebacker this offseason. The Raiders also added two defensive tackles, but one was a late seventh round pick who is unlikely ot make the 53 man roster.

And when you take a look at the defensive tackle position, one thing becomes abundantly clear: After losing Stacy McGee to free agency and then cutting Dan Williams, there is only one big bodied, run stuffing, nose tackle style DT left on the team: Justin Ellis.

Many were focused on the need for the Raiders to get a defensive tackle capable of creating mayhem in the pocket on passing downs because they assumed the Raiders would retain at least one of the Williams and McGee combo.

The fact that Ellis is the only nose tackle style defensive lineman on the roster is rather surprising considering how often the Raiders like to run the 3-4 front. As I’ve said many times, the Raiders are a multiple front defense, but they spend a lot of time in a three man front. Doing so requires a good nose tackle who can eat blocks in the middle and stifle the run game with one less lineman on the line of scrimmage.

With poor quality linebackers, Oakland is clearly hoping that Justin Ellis can have a big impact on the run game. If Ellis can consistently eat blocks and stalemate the line of scrimmage, the backers can run freely and make plays. If Ellis can’t do that, there’s a good chance this defense struggles against the run next year.

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