Raiders continue to stay on defensive

Alamo Bowl

The Oakland Raiders are showing a determination to improve their defense for the 2009 season and beyond. With their sixth round pick that they received from the Patriots for trading down in the second round, they selected a third defensive end on the second day of the draft.

Stryker Sulak from Missouri was the latest player taken by the Raiders with the 199th pick of the draft.  Sulak at 6’5″ and 251 lbs. is a prototypical defensive end that has 4.77 speed in the 40-yard dash.

At Mizzou, Sulak was a three-time All-Big 12 honoree and finished his career with a special senior year.  During his final year in college, he recorded 55 tackles (29 solo), 15.5 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, and an NCAA leading six forced fumbles.

Sulak leaves Missouri after compiling 183 tackles (97 solo), 35.5 tackles-for-loss, 21.5 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, 14 passes defensed, 13 forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks.  Sulak doesn’t fit the mold of a player that is a size/speed guy, which is what the Raiders are known for drafting – his production in college may have swayed the Raiders.

Oakland, who ranked near the bottom in the NFL in stopping the run has made a concerted effort to remedy that situation.  After taking Wisconsin’s Matt Shaughnessy in the third round and Oregon State’s Slade Norris in the fourth, they will have plenty of competition at the end position on defense.

The only problem with the Raiders selecting defensive ends is that most teams would look to fix the inside of the line when it comes to stopping the run.  Oakland’s next, and last, pick of the draft will be in the seventh round.

Good initial quickness off the snap. … Has some flexibility to get under the tackle and around the edge to close on the passer. … Good short-area burst to close effectively and can explode into the quarterback to create fumbles. … Good use of hands to rip the ball away from the ballcarrier. … At least adequate feel for the running game. … Good lateral quickness to scrape and stretch the play wide. … Can break down in space to make tackles in the open field.