Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp, which opens on July 31.
Who they have: Justin Ellis, Ricky Lumpkin, Stacy McGee, Leon Orr, Dan Williams, C.J. Wilson
Who they lost: Pat Sims, Antonio Smith
Looking back: Veteran Pat Sims signed his second straight one-year contract last offseason assuming he’d be a primary tackle, but eventually lost snaps to then rookie Justin Ellis. The fourth-round pick from Louisiana Tech took over and showed skill and moxie required to produce at a high level. Antonio Smith was a quality every-down player who was stout against the run and a strong interior pass rusher. He had three sacks and a forced fumble. Smith was surprisingly released, though he was later mixed up in a child abuse investigation.
Overall outlook: The Raiders added some heft by signing Dan Williams in free agency. Williams should help against the run, especially when paired with Ellis on the inside. The pair could be a tough tandem in the base defense, making hard to run on the inside. There isn’t a ton of depth here, though end/tackle C.J. Wilson can fill in on the inside. The Raiders could use another young player to step up and create depth on the interior.
Camp competition: Ellis and Williams are clear-cut starters in the base defense. It’s a wide-open battle to be the second string. C.J. Wilson will be the first player off the bench in several scenarios. Beyond that, players must prove themselves with a strong camp. There is some buzz surrounding undrafted free agent Leon Orr, the team’s biggest defensive lineman at 6-foot-5, 323 pounds. McGee and Ricky Lumpkin have been with the Raiders longer, but will have to earn a role with this coaching staff.
Bottom line: Williams and Ellis should give the Raiders a strong anchor in run defense, making yards up the middle difficult to come by. Defensive tackle is generally a rotational spot, and the big men should get a spell during passing downs. Mario Edwards Jr. and Justin Tuck will help as interior pass rushers. Wilson will be a super-sub. Orr could be an undrafted player to make the team, and Lumpkin should be a factor for a backup spot.