Linebackers are no longer the prominent three down players they once were. With the use of more defensive backs and pass rushers the linebacker often gets lost in the shuffle.
Lucky for the Raiders, they have five starting caliber linebackers. The group should be the strength of the entire team after adding No. 5 pick Khalil Mack. Nick Roach played most of the Raiders snaps last season and should be more effective his second season playing middle line backer. Added, last season’s rookie sensation Sio Moore should also be pegged for another big season as a pass rusher and run stuffer.
Lost in the shuffle has been veteran Kevin Burnett. Burnett was the primary starter until the selection of Mack put him into a completion at either outside backer position. The veteran still offers value as a leader and pass rusher.
Miles Burris is also the dark horse of the group. Burris started as a rookie, but lost his last season due to injury. Burris should be in the mix as he possess a skill set and experience capable of playing inside or outside.
It is going to be very critical that the Raiders have their linebackers play at a high level. With the amount of solid quarterbacks and running backs on the Raiders’ schedule they will need the linebackers to be the strength of their defense.
This type of depth will be needed for the Raiders to be constant competetors. Each player can carve out a role as a pass rusher or in different downs, packages and situations. Plus linebackers have tremendous value on special teams as punt returns, kick off, kick return and etc.
Either way, the Raiders will need their linebackers to get better and develop chemistry headed into training camp