Raiders Blog

Raiders Should Draft LB Despite FA Additions

The Las Vegas Raiders signed Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to shore up their linebacker corps. However, their work shouldn’t stop there as they should still target the position in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Littleton and Kwiatkoski are a breath of fresh air…

Littleton and Kwiatkoski are a breath of fresh air to a unit that had not been given proper attention in quite a while.

However, the options behind the newcomers don’t instill a lot of confidence.

Other linebackers currently on the Raiders roster are Nicholas Morrow, Kyle Wilber and Marquel Lee. So far, Morrow and Lee haven’t shown much to make the front office feel they’re part of the long-term plan and Wilber’s niche is on special teams. Te’Von Coney was in their practice squad last year and could make the roster this year, but so far there aren’t any indications it will happen. There’s a reason why he went undrafted in 2019 after all.

Related: Raiders aren’t patching defense anymore

Raiders Blog: The team needs to draft a linebacker

Knowing their drop in talent after Littleton and Kwiatkoski is steep, the Raiders would be smart to keep infusing talent at linebacker in the draft, maybe not in the first round as they have more pressing needs and those will likely be taken care of early in the process. However, there will still be talented players on the board in later rounds and not all of them played for top-ranked programs.

Small school prospects are interesting.

They often don’t face the kind of competition bigger programs do and there can be a day and night difference between power conferences and divisions. Nevertheless, that hasn’t deter players from small programs from thriving at the next level. Maxx Crosby came from Eastern Michigan and he showed the transition to the pros can be smooth. The year before, defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard did the same coming out of South Carolina.

Of course not all small-school prospects pan out, but if the Raiders want to take a chance on one of them in the middle of the draft, they should target Mississippi State’s Will Gay Jr. or Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither. On the other hand, if they don’t feel comfortable with them, they could then focus on bigger program linebackers such as Oregon’s Troy Dye or Penn State’s Cameron Brown. There will be choices.

The addition of Kwiatkoski and Littleton in free agency were two of the best moves the Raiders have made recently, but the work shouldn’t stop there and if they want their linebacker corps to be well-rounded, they must keep addressing the position in the draft.

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