The Las Vegas Raiders are continuing to try to rebuild the defense but there are still many flaws on the roster. The team has said they want to build from the defensive line back, which is why they used a first-round pick on defensive end Tyree Wilson. With Wilson, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, the Raiders have a pass-rushing trio with unlimited potential this season.
One thing that could hold them back from reaching that potential is the fact they don’t have a pass-rushing defensive tackle. They have solid run stuffers but nobody who can consistently rush the passer on the inside. If they were able to add one, the defensive line could end up being a major strength. There may be actually one available on the trade market. Leonard Williams is entering a contract year and the New York Giants don’t appear keen on extending him. They want to get something for him now before he potentially walks in free agency next year. In his two seasons under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, he had 18.0 combined sacks. He’s a very good fit under the coach. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report pitched a trade that would send Raiders safety Tre’von Moerhig to New York for Williams.
“Leonard Williams grew up a Raider fan … the more important point here is that he had his best year under Patrick Graham in 2020. … You can get the best out of him knowing that he fits with whatever Patrick Graham is doing because he’s already proved that with the Giants. We don’t quite know if Tre’von Moehrig is a fit with Patrick Graham,” Moton said.
Williams’ Previous Quote on Being a Raiders Fan
Williams was born in Southern California and went to college at USC. The Raiders still have a huge following in Los Angeles and that rubbed off on the defensive lineman. Back when he was in the draft process in 2015, he wasn’t shy about wanting to get drafted by the Raiders. He said he “wouldn’t mind slipping” to the team in the draft.
“I love their colors; I love their tradition,” Williams said back in 2015.
He actually did fall to the team but they decided to take wide receiver Amari Cooper instead. While Cooper has had a very good career, he only played a little more than three seasons with the team before he was traded. It’s possible that Williams may have had a longer tenure with the team.
Elite Defensive Line Would Help Mask Other Issues
The Raiders have major concerns at linebacker and in the secondary. Trading away Moehrig only makes the secondary weaker. However, adding Williams back into Graham’s defense could lead to Las Vegas having an elite pass rush. Crosby, Jones and Williams have all been to Pro Bowls. Jones is coming off of a rough year but should be better in his second year in the defense. Wilson is raw and may take time to develop into a dependable pass rusher but if he’s good for 8.0 sacks, that’d be a big boost for the Raiders.
A great defensive line can help mask a lot of problems. A big reason the Philadelphia Eagles made the Super Bowl last season was due to their pass-rushing depth. If the Raiders feel like there’s no path to build a great secondary or linebacker corps right now, doubling down on the defensive line may be their best chance at success.