Job one for Raiders DC Patrick Graham will be to find ways to get Tyree Wilson on the field
Normally when a team uses a top ten pick on a player, that player is a day one starter. Or at least that’s the plan. For the Raiders, who selected Tyree Wilson at seven overall, that plan is a bit less clear.
Wilson was a game wrecker for the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. So, naturally, that’s what the Raiders of Las Vegas would like from him as well. But that may not happen right away.
Unlike most teams who find themselves taking a player at seven overall, they don’t simply have an open starting job waiting for him. The Raiders already have two starting defensive ends in Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
You can argue Jones wasn’t the force last season the Raiders needed him to be. That is certainly true. You can argue that he’s reached the twilight of his career at 33 years of age. That too would appear to be true. But he still has a sizable contract for the Raiders. One he just restructured. So, he’s not going anywhere this season and the Raiders aren’t just going to pay him big money to be a spot player in favor of a rookie.
Even while Jones improved his play late last season, it wasn’t nearly enough. That’s where Tyree Wilson comes in.
What do the Raiders needs from him? Simply put; Chaos.
The Raiders ranked 18th in getting pressure last season, but ranked dead last in EPA per Play with pressure.
They needed someone to create chaos so they drafted one of the best.
Tyree Wilson led the Big-12 in pressures despite playing in only 10 games 😱#RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/ytV8JJTT6X
— SIS Football (@football_sis) May 8, 2023
To get the requisite chaos, it may not be as simple as putting him in the game instead of Jones. It will also be about how they can best utilize both of them. Sometimes that will be in a rotation, as GM Dave Ziegler noted just after the team drafted Wilson.
“The more the merrier,” said Ziegler. “His ability to disrupt. We talked about it before. We’d like to eventually develop over time a front that’s able to come in waves and you’re able to keep guys fresh. And I think that’s important in this day and age especially because we have quarterbacks that run around. . . , so being able to have some guys that can disrupt the quarterback and have more guys that can do that in phases, if you will, is valuable.”
Having a fresh edge rusher in the game at all times is a great luxury. But it may not be enough. For if you have several edge rushers on the team, the best scenario would be the ability to utilize them all at once in the right situations.
That’s what Raiders DC Patrick Graham will be tasked with drawing up.
As with any coordinator, getting the best 11 on the field together as often as possible is the ultimate goal.
Raiders assistant GM Champ Kelley talked about Wilson’s versatility and how he played all over the front at Texas Tech. The thing about that is Wilson was not nearly as effective when he did something other than rushing the edge. That’s what the Raiders drafted him to do and having him line up anywhere else just to get him and Jones on the field together probably wouldn’t be the best use of his talents.
Not to mention, coaches and GMs often use the versatility response as a means by which to not reveal their specific plans for a player. But, come on, it’s pretty obvious Wilson’s job is simply to create pressure around the edge.
So, I suppose the caveat here would be not just to get Wilson and Jones on the field together, but to do it in a way that makes sense. To do it in a way that best utilizes the strengths of each player.
I wouldn’t pretend to have the answers on how to do that. If I did, maybe I’d be running an NFL defense. I will be as interested as most of you in how Graham goes about deploying Wilson to get the most out of his talents early on. It could make all the difference in the performance of this defense this season.