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Las Vegas Raiders must decide on defensive line rotations

The Las Vegas Raiders could have a dominant defensive line for the first time in what seems like forever.

From perimeter rushers to guys who can cause problems on the interior, the Raiders can attack offensive lines and pursue quarterbacks from all over the defensive line.

Adding Christian Wilkins in free agency gives the Raiders a fearsome duo at defensive tackle with him and Maxx Crosby off the edge.

Beyond just the stars, the Raiders have solid young talent and impressive depth. Malcolm Koonce is a starter who broke out last season. Tyree Wilson’s rookie season was a mixed bag, but he showed flashes of versatility both inside and out.

John Jenkins and Adam Butler were impressive last season. Byron Young and Nesta Jade Silvera are young defensive linemen who could see more playing time.

With stars at the top and plenty of depth ready to contribute, coach Antonio Pierce and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham must now decide who will play – and how much.

According to Pro Football Focus, Crosby and Koonce played the most understands from the edge (Crosby at 1,080, Koonce at 501). There’s no reason to think these two won’t be the starters at every defensive end position.

Jenkins and Butler led defensive tackles in a snap. Wilkins played 968 snaps in 2023 for the Miami Dolphins, who would have led the Raiders. The addition of Wilkins likely means a reduction in snaps for Jenkins or Butler, but one of those two will start, and the other should still have a strong role.

It’s up to Pierce and Graham to determine who will earn the most snaps in 2024. Wilkins would like to compete as a starter, and it could be a battle between Jenkins and Butler to see who will be the starter versus Wilkins.

Could Young or Silvera challenge for a starting role? Young was a third-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Silvera was a seventh-round selection in the same draft and fits perfectly into Graham’s plan.

The Raiders defensive coaches must consider several factors, including the offense of the team they are playing against, the skills of each player and who will break out in the preseason.

It’s a good problem to have so many talented players and trying to figure out where to play. The Raiders are grateful to have that “problem” in the trenches.

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