The Las Vegas Raiders added two of the most coveted linebackers this past free agency. Also, they expect rookie Tanner Muse to successfully switch positions after playing safety back in college. Alas, there isn’t much depth at the position after them.
The Raiders patched their linebacker corps after they signed free agents Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski during the offseason. The two showed they can play the position at a high level last year. They also think Muse can handle the transition from defensive back to the second level. They seem to be comfortable enough that they haven’t brought back veteran Will Compton back. However, in case Littleton or Kwiatkoski go down, there is little depth behind them.
Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently wrote about the Raiders lack of depth at linebacker. When he graded all the team’s position groups on defense, he pointed out how much the team spent on the position. The veteran reporter wrote, “The Raiders invested $35.75 million in guaranteed money for Littleton and Kwiatkoski in free agency and a third-round draft pick in Muse hoping to improve a unit that was a major weakness last season. Littleton, a former Los Angeles Rams standout, is regarded as one of the NFL’s best three-down linebackers with his ability to play the run and pass, and Kwiatkoski flashed a similar skill set with the Chicago Bears. Their pass coverage ability enhances a problem area, and the impact should be felt throughout the entire defense.
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What about Depth?
Also, Bonsignore pointed out the steep decline in talent between the starters and the backups. He said, “The starting job alongside Littleton and Kwiatkoski is open, and the hope is Muse eventually takes it. A safety at Clemson, Muse brings pass coverage skills and playmaking ability, but making the transition to linebacker might take some time, so the Raiders will need someone among [Nicholas] Morrow, [Marquel] Lee, [Wilber] and others to hold the job down. This is an improved unit, but there is uncertainty and inexperience behind Littleton and Kwiatkoski.”
Morrow was part of a unit that was often a liability in 2019. Lee missed last season and Wilbur mainly plays special teams. It won’t be optimal if any of them see the field for an extended period of time.
Although the Raiders added a couple of playmakers at linebacker, the rest of their corps isn’t as reliable. In case Littleton or Kwiatkoski miss any games, the lack of depth at the position may come back to haunt the team.
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