Raiders’ Antonio Pierce Sends Message on Christian Wilkins

christian wilkins

Getty Las Vegas Raiders DT Christian Wilkins.

The Las Vegas Raiders made a big splash in free agency with the signing of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. He’s one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL and that was a major position of need for the team.

The Raiders have been undergoing a defensive renaissance under head coach Antonio Pierce and Wilkins will only make the group better. Pierce detailed how big of a deal it is that Wilkins is joining the defense.

“[Wilkins’ presence] makes life easier for us as coaches, I’ll tell you that,” Pierce said during his March 25 media availability. “When you get good players, it makes life easy. But what it does, along with the other gentlemen that we brought back, John Jenkins and Adam Butler, that’s a lot of depth to that D-line room. … That’s going to be our strong point of our team. From one to 10, we feel really good with those guys.

“But Christian, the energy, man, the personality, the love for the game. And now we’ve got somebody on the front [to match] with Maxx Crosby. Full-blown effort for 60 minutes. And that’s what we’re looking for. I think for us to get a player of his caliber, the way he’s played over the last, really his entire career, it’s going to be a blessing for Raider Nation.”

The interior of the Raiders’ defensive line is in good shape heading into the 2024 season.

Antonio Pierce Talks How DL Improvement Helps LBs

An elite defensive line can take a team very far. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers have two of the best defensive lines in the NFL and were both in the Super Bowl last season. A strong defensive line makes it easier for every other level of the defense to perform.

Antonio Pierce, who played linebacker in the NFL, explained why a strong defensive line is important for everybody on a defense.

“Yeah, it makes life easy for me,” Pierce said. “Because now [offenses], they’re worried about blocking those four guys and not me, allowing me to be able to run. And that’s what’s going to happen for Robert Spillane as well. You’re going to have to deal with Maxx Crosby, Malcolm Koonce, I mean, obviously, Christian.

“So now you’re looking at [Divine] Deablo and Robert Spillane [and it] should free those guys up even more to make more plays, to be more productive on the other side of the field.”

Las Vegas Raiders Can Focus on Other Defensive Needs

An underrated aspect of the Raiders signing Christian Wilkins is now the team will not need to add a defensive tackle early in the draft. The team can now focus on the needs at quarterback, cornerback and offensive line.

The Raiders’ front seven on defense is essentially set and the front office should focus on adding depth. Quarterback is the most obvious need and could be the position the team addresses in the first round. However, the Raiders could also use a No. 1 cornerback. Offensive line help will be more difficult to find this late in free agency so the team could also make that a priority early in the draft.

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