This offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders went on a mission to revamp their defensive line. They added many players, including Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson. However, they could still need more help, specifically at defensive tackle.
Incumbent starter Johnathan Hankins is a strong run defender but doesn’t bring much of a pass rush. Between Jefferson and Thomas, they only have a combined 8.5 sacks over the last two seasons. The Raiders need more of an interior pass rush and it’s fair to question if the current group of defensive tackles can make it happen.
If Las Vegas gets to training camp and isn’t thrilled with how the pass rush is coming together, the team could take a look at a former star. Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders should sign Geno Atkins:
A shoulder injury limited Atkins to eight games last season. The Bengals coaching staff changed the defensive tackle’s role as well. The eight-time Pro Bowl selection still graded as the league’s third-best interior defender, according to Pro Football Focus.
Atkins may not be an every-down lineman anymore. The Raiders don’t need him to be. They simply need to be better along the defensive interior while adding more ability to collapse the pocket around opposing quarterbacks.
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Atkins Could Make Sense for Raiders
At 33-years-old, Atkins is likely past his prime. He missed eight games last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. In the eight games he did play, he didn’t notch a single sack for the first time in his career and didn’t get selected to the Pro Bowl after making it six straight years.
However, one down year doesn’t necessarily mean he’s completely washed up. If he’s healthy, he could still be an impact player if he’s used situationally. He’s had five seasons in which he’s had nine or more sacks. That’s very impressive for a defensive tackle. The Raiders could use him on passing downs and let the other guys do the dirty work in the run game. Considering his experience and past success as a pass rusher, he could be a great addition to the team this late in the offseason.
Geno Atkins Could Be Clear Soon
While Atkins speculation is starting to heat up, teams still have to wait for him to get cleared to play. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported back in June that the defensive lineman was supposed to have a checkup with Dallas Cowboys team doctor Dan Cooper. The hope was that he’d be clear to play by July 1. That date has passed and that hasn’t been any word that he’s been cleared yet.
That could mean that Atkins still isn’t ready to play but it could also mean that he’s biding his time before letting the news out. He should have a number of suitors once he’s cleared. If he doesn’t get cleared, he’ll have to wait a while longer before a team is going to take a chance on him.