The Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive line played as well as they could’ve hoped against the Baltimore Ravens. Most notably, Maxx Crosby made his name heard across the NFL with a dominant performance over Alejandro Villanueva. Crosby had nine pressures, eight quarterback hits and two sacks.
Unfortunately, their defensive line was dismantled by injuries in Week 1. Specifically, the Raiders lost defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was carted off the field midway through the game and looked to be in serious pain. McCoy missed all of 2020 and his status for 2021 is still unknown. The Raiders didn’t plan on starting McCoy, but he was supposed to be a valuable rotation piece.
In light of the McCoy injury, here are three DEs the Raiders could target to shore things up.
3 defensive tackles the Raiders should target to replace Gerald McCoy
#1 – Geno Atkins
Geno Atkins is a surprising name still on the open market. Atkins was a Pro Bowler as recently as 2019 and made five in a row earlier. Atkins may not be in his prime anymore, but he’s 33, which is the same age as McCoy.
Atkins was unblockable as a pass rusher at his peak. Now, he’d probably be more of a run stopper considering the injuries will have knocked some of his athleticism off. Atkins has 75.5 career sacks and is one of the most respected defensive tackles of his generation. As a rotation player behind Quinton Jefferson and Jonathan Hankins, he’d be a serviceable pickup.
#2 – Kawann Short
Kawann Short is a bigger risk than Atkins, despite being a year younger. Short has had his last two seasons ravaged by injuries. Before those, Short was a consistent presence on the Carolina Panthers’ defense. Short was an equal run stopper and pass rusher. His best season came in 2015 when he had a career-high 11 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
Short would help in run defense, which is the Raiders’ biggest need. When he was healthy in 2018, Pro Football Focus graded him an 85.4 in run defense. The Raiders did their best to fill the running lanes against the Ravens in Week 1 but they still gave up 189 yards. The question for the Raiders is why not take a shot?
#3 – Damon Harrison Sr.
If the Raiders are looking for a quality run defender, Damon Harrison Sr. is their guy. Harrison was graded a 90 or higher by Pro Football Focus in every season from 2015 through 2018. The running defense is Harrison’s bread and butter.
Harrison is 32, which is the same age as Short. But Harrison is the biggest name on this list at 6’3″, 350 pounds. The Raiders are likely looking to add someone with pass-rush ability after finishing 30th in sacks last year. But if McCoy is out for the long haul, the Raiders should look to sign one of these three.