The Oakland Raiders are in a time of transition unlike any other. Not only is there a new coaching staff and new players, there is an entirely new regime in Oakland. One of the changes that has been discussed frequently this off season is the possibility that the Raiders could move to a 3-4 defensive front. Coach Allen has stated multiple times this off season that the defense will be a multiple look defense, meaning he will be using both a 3-4 and a 4-3 front seven.
The possibility of a 3-4 front seven defense raises one immediate question, who will play nose tackle? In order for a 3-4 defense to be successful, there are two very important things that must be present. First, there must be good depth at linebacker since the linebacker position's importance increases in a 3-4 scheme. Second, there needs to be a dominant nose tackle that can eat up blocks at the line of scrimmage so that the linebackers can run free. The Raiders do not have any prototypical nose tackles, but when asked who on the Raiders would play NT, Allen pointed to Tommy Kelly. Now, Kelly has had an opportunity to provide his thoughts on the idea of playing NT for the Raiders this season.
Typically, an NFL nose tackle needs to be a dominant presence physically. Due to having one less lineman up front, a defensive tackle must eat up blockers at a higher rate than a defensive tackle in a 4-3 front seven. As a result, the prototypical nose tackle will be a massive physical specimen, something like what Tommy Kelly used to be, before he lost 30 plus pounds upon the arrival of Richard Seymour.
When asked about the possible move to nose tackle, Kelly first made it clear that he would not be putting the weight back on if they asked him to move to NT. "If he sees (me being) a 3-4 nose, I ain't trying to get that big. I ain't trying to gain all that weight. I've done went through that, being 340, 350 pounds. That really ain't my cup of tea. I ain't trying to gain all that weight."
Ever since Kelly lost all of that weight, he has been playing much better. Some of the improved play is undoubtedly due to playing next to a guy like Seymour, but a large part of his play is also due to the weight he lost. Therefore, it makes sense that Kelly would not want to put the weight back on and return to the days of underachieving. But, if he were asked to play NT without putting on the weight, Kelly thinks he could do that just fine.
When asked why he would not balk at playing nose tackle when many defensive tackles do not like making such a move, Kelly responded that it was because those guys were not physical enough and did not have the right mentality. Kelly discussed how playing interior defensive line, you need to get used to being hit on every play. If you cannot do that, then you cannot play NT. For Kelly, it's all he thinks about, how he can get his body on as many guys up front as possible. So, for him, playing nose tackle would be no different than playing defensive tackle, just more guys for him to get his body on.