That may be a good idea, since the Raiders already have the necessary pieces to run the scheme. Usually, the most difficult part of moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense (or vice versa) is personnel. However, in the past two years Oakland has been collecting players who appear to be a perfect 3-4 fit. Oakland has been a 4-3 defense, but it did use the 3-4 some last season.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said he believes that a 3-4 defense -- three defensive linemen and four linebackers opposed to four defensive linemen and three linebackers -- is the best way to go because it creates more options for a defense. More teams are turning to a 3-4 and Williamson thinks Oakland would be wise to consider it.
“They have the personnel for it,” Williamson said. “I’ve long said they have the right guys for the 3-4. They’ve been adding 3-4 guys the past two seasons, so it would make sense. I think it would be beneficial.”
Let’s look at how the Raiders would look in the 3-4:
Defensive line: Williamson thinks the Raiders have three perfect fits for the 3-4: Richard Seymour, Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly. Williamson calls Seymour, who was a defensive tackle in Oakland in 2010, “the best 3-4 defensive end of this generation.” Williamson thinks Houston would be a fine 3-4 end because of his athleticism. Williamson doesn’t think Kelly is an ideal nose tackle, but he could get by there and could also play end.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Oakland drafted that classic 6-foot-2, 340-pound nose tackle,” Williamson said.
Williamson said he thinks young defensive Matt Shaughnessy is not a 3-4 player and “he would suffer the most by this move.”
Linebackers: Williamson could see Shaughnessy and Trevor Scott (who has played both end and linebacker) as pass linebackers in this scheme. He thinks starting linebacker Kamerion Wimbley would be a perfect 3-4 pass-rushing linebacker. Wimbley was a 3-4 player in Cleveland before he was traded to the Raiders last season. Williamson thought Wimbley, who had nine sacks for Oakland last season, had his best season in 2010 since his rookie season in 2006.
Williamson thinks Quentin Groves, who started as an outside linebacker last season, is a decent player, but he thinks Shaughnessy (if he makes the transition to 3-4) and Scott may be better options. Williamson thinks middle linebacker Rolando McClain would be a perfect 3-4 inside linebacker.
“He’s a bigger, stronger take-on player,” Williamson said. “I’d like him the 3-4.”
Williamson said no one currently on Oakland’s roster stands out as a clear starter at the other inside linebacker spot. But what Oakland has now is a very good start if it, indeed, does move to a 3-4.