The alarm is ringing, and the flag has been implanted into the ground, the Las Vegas Raiders have linebackers at last! It isn’t just linebackers though, they now have really good pieces to mend the middle of their young defense.
The Raiders finally have a competent group at linebacker
I am the most excited to see the Raiders’ new linebacker corps, not just one player but the unit as a whole. It’s been a long time since the Silver and Black had a respectable group patrolling the middle of the field. We would have to go back to the days of Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison to see decent play at the position. That’s how long it has been since the Raiders had a competent linebacker group.
The Raiders made a big time investment at a position they hardly ever devote resources to. They knew they had to address the middle of their defense. This past offseason, they gave Kwiatkoski a three-year $21 million contract, but it wasn’t the only move the team made. To make sure their linebackers weren’t going to be a liability anymore, they signed Cory Littleton to a three-year $35.25 million deal. With their new additions, they could rank among the best in the game by season’s end.
After signing journeymen or players past their prime, the Raiders snagged Littleton, THE premier free agent on the market at the linebacker position. He will be the cover linebacker the Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has needed for a while. Kwiatkoski, a backup linebacker in his early career with the Bears, will wear the green dot in his helmet.
The Raiders linebacker unit is trending up
Pro Football Focus recently released a ranking of all NFL teams linebacker units. The Raiders went from the bottom half all the way up to number six overall at that specific position group. Littleton will take over the weak linebacker spot while Kwiatkoski roams in the middle. The only real question moving forward is who will be their strong linebacker.
The Raiders just released Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow hasn’t really proven he is the man. One player that could get a shot at claiming the strong linebacker is Clemson’s Tanner Muse, a high energy player who comes from a big time school. He joins his fellow Tigers, Hunter Renfrow, Clelin Ferrell, and Trayvon Mullen.
Muse is a rookie with potential but is still a little raw. The lack of preseason games will definitely play a factor in his growth this season. For that reason, he won’t likely start right out of the gate. Rather, Morrow is probably getting the nod due to his familiarity with Guenther’s terminology. The Clemson product will eventually get his chance but not now. Having said that, crazier things have happened, and anything could happen in an unusual season.
Can’t wait for the 2020 season to start.
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Top Photo: Richard Shiro/Associated Press