The Oakland Raiders are a rapidly improving team. But team needs to rebalance Khalil Mack let defense. Could University of Washington DT Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis fill those needs?
As the NFL begins the fast-paced-feeding-frenzied-free-agency-fun, NFL Rumors for the Oakland Raiders are noticeably absent. The Raiders are not expected to be big players in free agency. They don’t even want to be. They are a young team on the rise, with young stars looking for their own big paydays. And to be fair, this Raiders team has earned it. But the University of Washington has earned something too. Respect.
As it stands, that University of Washington respect may be the key to the Raider is fixing that defense. Thanks to a well timed article from JustBlogBaby.com’s Justin Smith, the team needs are pointed at defense. While five of the University of Washington’s seven NFL combine invites were defense, two are particularly well suited fits for that Raiders team: Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis.
The reason is simple. The Oakland Raiders do not get enough push in the middle, and they need someone else to pick up the slack on the edge. UW defensive tackle Elijah Qualls can provide the push, while edge rusher Joe Mathis can bring the pain from the edge.
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Roll The Highlights
Here’s Qualls playing against the Oregon Ducks. Qualls is a hugely powerful man to set into the middle of the defensive line.
Meanwhile, here is Joe Mathis. He is a flexible edge setter who disrupts the opposing offense. As of March 8th, neither Qualls nor Mathis are projected of the board on day one. That gives the Raiders some flexibility in getting both. Why is that important? These two were devastating as Huskies, feeding each other’s strengths.
There are plenty of NFL teams out there, but the Oakland Raiders under Reggie McKenzie have been on par with some of the best “talent assessors” out there.
Conditioned to Win.
Both Qualls and Mathis are powerful. The University of Washington has an incredible strength and conditioning program, headed by coach Tim Socha. He was named the 2016 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by Football Scoop. This prestigious but less familiar accolade is given to the coach whose contribution is lauded by peers and players alike.
"“Tim does a great job of training and motivating our players. He stays on the cutting edge with research and technology, using all angles of sports training to build better football players. Our program wouldn’t be where it is today without him.”"
A Pac-12 assistant coach from an opposing team nominated Coach Socha with this notation
"“Washington’s athletes were better prepared and conditioned than any other athletes we faced this season. Coach Socha should win this year hands down.”"
Ready To Plug And Play
Defensive tackle Elijah Qualls and defensive end Joe Mathis are two such “better prepared and conditioned” athletes.
Right now, the Oakland Raiders are young and improving. To continue to improve, the team needs to bring defensive players who can help not only today, but for the foreseeable future. Both Qualls and Mathis deliver that routinely. While both can upgrade special teams, they can also be counted on as solid contributors in defensive rotations from game one.
The Oakland Raiders are earning respect in the NFL. That is exactly what Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis will bring with them.