The Las Vegas Raiders recently released their first depth chart for the 2021 season. You can check that out here. There are definitely a few spots that stick out, let’s take a look.
Changes at linebacker for the Raiders
Tanner Muse is in as the starting strongside linebacker and Nick Kwiatkoski has been relegated to second string at middle linebacker. There have been rumblings about both of these moves since pads have come on in camp, but now they are official… at least for now. I would take both of these listings with a grain of salt.
Muse going from not playing at all last year to starting on defense feels shocking. Remember it is still preseason. This is a great time for the coaching staff to figure out what they have in a guy who still has a lot of question marks. If anything, fans should look at this as a trial by fire. If Muse looks good in preseason, the job could be his.
Kwiatkoski is in an odd situation. He was brought in last year to be the quarterback of the defense and he was one of the better players on that unit. That being said, Nicholas Morrow also had a strong season and his experience at safety in college might make him a better fit for Gus Bradley’s defense. That being said, Kwiatkoski’s spot on the depth chart is misleading. All indications in training camp are that he still has a big role in sub packages, which are used a ton in today’s NFL. I would still expect to see a lot of him.
Clelin Ferrell not starting
This is another one where we saw this coming but still feels surreal. Yes, the addition of Yannick Ngakoue was going to change Ferrell’s role, but it always seemed like he would still be a starter.
The biggest surprise is that the Raiders did not add an ‘LEO’ position to the depth chart so that they could mark Ferrell, Ngakoue, and Maxx Crosby all as starters. All three will still see plenty of snaps. We just might see ‘Cle‘ move around a bit more. Still, seeing a former top-five pick in his third season not listed as a starter is alarming.
Nevin Lawson over Damon Arnette
Oof. We were not surprised to see Casey Hayward starting over Arnette. What surprised me was Lawson starting at the nickel spot. Now I know Arnette is technically an outside corner. Still, this is a huge indictment of the Ohio State product.
As we all know, Lawson is bad, plain, and simple. He should not be starting. The fact that this configuration is considered better than Hayward moving inside for Arnette to play outside, or even vice versa, is very concerning. Honestly, we know that Urban Meyer loves his former Buckeyes and Gators, and rumor has it that C.J. Henderson is available, maybe something could be arranged there?
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*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal