Raiders would love one of the top three edge rushers in the draft

The Oakland Raiders have two of the better edge rushers in the NFL in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin but as the saying goes, you can never have too many pass rushers. So while an edge rusher may not be the highest of priorities for Oakland, if one of the elite pass rushing talents were to fall to them for some odd reason, it would make sense for Reggie McKenzie to pull the trigger.

Here’s a look at the top three edge rushers available in a draft class stacked with pass rushers:

Myles Garrett, Edge
Round: First

Likely to be the first overall pick and for very good reason, Myles Garrett is a generational type of player. It’s a rarity that you see a player who is not only a physical freak but who also exhibits the kind of intangibles that Garrett does.
Not only does he have insane speed and flexibility for a man of his immense size but he’s also clearly got very good instincts. He tracks the ball carrier extremely well and is able to make plays not only because of his athleticism and strength, but because of his football IQ and ability to read blockers and keep an eye in the backfield.

Garrett could use polishing in some of his technique but you’re really nitpicking when talking about areas of downside. In reality, the most negative thing you can say about him is that he’s still young and has areas that any young player would need to improve upon.

Needless to say, there’s no way he’s available when the Raiders draft but it’s fun to dream about the impossible.

Solomon Thomas, Edge/DL
Round: First

Another extremely talented pass rusher who is not likely to be available when the Raiders pick, Thomas would be the perfect addition for Oakland. With Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, the Raiders aren’t in desperate need of an edge rusher, but do need to upgrade the pass rush.

Thomas would fill that need perfectly for the Raiders as we can use that ever important “versatile” description. Thought not an elite edge rusher, he’s a good all around defensive end and is capable of playing defensive tackle on passing downs. He could lineup at defensive end on early downs then move inside and rush the passer from DT on passing downs where he can provide the interior rush that the Raiders have been missing.

But where I see versatility, others see a tweener. Thomas isn’t big enough to play DT and doesn’t have elite athleticism or speed to be the man at defensive end either. For some, that’s less than ideal but for what the Raiders are in need of, it’s a great fit. They don’t need an edge player on third down, that’s what Irvin and Mack will do. But they could use an additional rusher from the interior of the line and that’s where Thomas could come in. Plus, his ability to play DE on early downs will give Mack and Irvin more of a chance to get breathers in games.

Derek Barnett, Edge
Round: First

Barnett isn’t a bad athlete, but it’s not his athleticism that ranks him so highly in a class that’s rather deep with edge rushers. Barnett isn’t the fastest but is still able to find his way into the backfield thanks to a combination of impressive flexibility and great instincts.

Barnett isn’t ranked highly for his physical attributes either. He’s got good size and more than enough strength to play defensive end in the NFL, but much like his athleticism isn’t elite, neither is his size. But what he lacks in combine-esque traits, Barnett makes up for in other ways.

Barnett has a great football IQ and knows how to read offenses. This allowed him to be extremely productive in college and is why many NFL scouts are high on him. He’s the kind of guy who’s motor makes coaches happy and his production against quality talent makes scouts happy. The combine isn’t where he excels, but the football field is.

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