Will Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Cory Littleton be able to improve in Year 2 after a disappointing debut? A new defensive system could help him regain his Pro Bowl form.
Last season’s struggles
When Littleton first signed with the Raiders, he was expected to be a wrecking force on defense. Unfortunately, that has not panned out through his first season in Vegas. In fact, he’s been recently dubbed as the most overpaid player on the Silver and Black by Bleacher Report. With $22 million guaranteed, the Raiders are going to need better production from the linebacker.
One of the most glaring issues for Littleton was his tackling where he missed 17.2% of the time. He was also outshined by Nick Kwiatkoski and Nicholas Morrow for most of the season despite being the highest-paid. Some of the disappointment can be put on a short offseason and abysmal play calling from the former defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther. The change at coordinator actually seemed to be a silver lining as he looked more comfortable by the end of the season (Guenther was fired after Week 14). From weeks 15-17, Littleton racked up 25 tackles which were his most efficient stretch in 2020.
What to hope for…
With the new season coming closer and Gus Bradley taking over the defense, there’s reason to believe that Littleton will have a much better year. He won’t have to overthink his assignments, unlike the previous system. It is very important that he can return to his Pro Bowl form as the Raiders have been plagued for so long with linebackers in coverage. It should be fair to say that his tackling and speed across the field will improve. You will also hope to see him be a challenge to tight ends and running backs in the passing game as well.
Prediction for the Raiders’ linebacker
Top takeaways from Day 5 of @Raiders Training Camp practice:
1. Linebacking trio of Littleton, Kwiatkoski and Morrow are looking sharp.
2. Andre James is playing fast off the ball.
3. Marcus Mariota is doing well at backup QB, would like to see if he gets his own set package.
— Levi Edwards (@theleviedwards) August 2, 2021
If Littleton can come back to his old self, he should be able to get around 110 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, and two interceptions. Numbers within that range will certainly entail that he’s fulfilling his role as a key to the defense. In turn, that would be very helpful for Las Vegas to make the playoffs. So far in camp, he’s looked sharp according to Raiders digital reporter Levi Edwards. Hopefully, a successful camp will correlate with an excellent 2021 season.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Jeff Roberson