The Las Vegas Raiders’ glaring need for a linebacker upgrade isn’t going away anytime soon. With the NFL Scouting Combine underway and draft day approaching, it might come down to choosing between Isaiah Simmons or Kenneth Murray.
Murray Is The Answer
The dream scenario would be Simmons at number 12, but his stock is rising and will have skyrocketed even more by the end of the Combine. Meanwhile, Murray might be there and may still be available at number 19 as well, which could leave the Raiders open to picking another position at 12.
That’s not a knock on Murray though, the Oklahoma product could be exactly what the Raiders have been missing, a true play maker and imposing tackler who’s drawing comparisons to Kwon Alexander.
Despite suffering an injury while running the 40, Murray’s stock shouldn’t be affected, assuming it’s nothing major. Putting that aside, his performance at the Combine was impressive as he notched 21 reps in the bench press, vertical jump of 38.0 and a broad jump of 129.0 before his injury.
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NFL analyst Lance Zierlin summarized what Murray could bring to the table via NFL.com:
Recognition of play development and ability to take on blocks are both underdeveloped currently, but a move to weak-side linebacker would put him in position to minimize those concerns and maximize his playmaking talent. Murray has hit-or-miss qualities and is more splashy than consistent, but he’s immensely talented with the ability to imprint on games on all three downs.
Let’s Dream About Simmons
Here’s the thing, there will be many teams vying for Simmons and why wouldn’t they? He’s a franchise altering pick dripping potential and depending on who you talk to, his versatility and how he models his game make him a hybrid. In a recent piece by Vic Tafur via The Athletic, Simmons spoke at the Combine about how he shapes his game.
“I model my game after a (few) people,” Simmons said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. â€œIf I have to go look at film of somebody to get something, it’d be like Von Miller just for pass rush, Jalen Ramsey just for man techniques and Tyrann Mathieu just because he plays around everywhere as well. I take bits and pieces from all them to kind of throw into my game.”
Those are three impressive names to model yourself after, just imagine having a building block who could encompass each of those players’ best traits. That being said, Raider Nation knows all too well Raiders linebackers have been eternally torched at the second level. It doesn’t help that the AFC West is loaded with talented tight ends, let alone the rest of the league. Simmons is also fully aware of this as he continued:
â€œThe game is evolving, so the name of the game now is stopping tight ends,” Simmons said. â€œSo something has to be done to stop these Travis Kelces and George Kittles out there.”
Nothing would make fans happier than having someone who could finally cover Travis Kelce. If everyone looks at the big picture, the Raiders can’t go wrong with either one of these players because the need is there. We’ll have to wait and see how the dominoes fall. One thing’s for sure, if general manager Mike Mayock can pick up one of these two and a wide receiver, jackpot.
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