Las Vegas Raiders OLB Divine Deablo

Ramble Regard: Breaking Down The Raiders’ Outside Linebackers Pre-Training Camp

The opinions when it comes to the Las Vegas Raiders outside linebacker position vary. Still, the pendulum is swinging more towards liability than strength. And for good reason.

The group is a supreme question mark that’s filled with potential and young, hungry talent. But there isn’t a household name among the group. And that isn’t going to instill confidence.

Of the group, Divine Deablo has the most experience and production (including solid upside). Unfortunately, he remains unproven despite a promising 2022 campaign cut short due to injury. (More on that below.)

So, let’s check out the group:

Raiders Outside Linebackers

(By years of experience)

Divine Deablo, 6-foot-3, 223 lbs., 3 years, 24 years old
Curtis Bolton, 6-foot, 228 lbs., 3 years, 27 years old
Luke Masterson, 6-foot-1, 220 lbs., 2 years, 25 years old
Darien Butler, 6-foot, 225 lbs., 2 years, 23 years old
Amari Burney, 6-foot-2, 228 lbs., rookie, 23 years old

Who’s the weakest link?

Bolton. A career special teamer, Bolton seeing snaps on defense would mean something went wrong. He’s an undersized option for this particular group, so that’s a red flag. Looking ahead, Bolton will compete for special team snaps, which he’s best suited for. Even so, Bolton could wind up getting axed if a better option on special teams materializes.

Which Raiders linebacker is flying under the radar?

Butler. This was originally going to be Masterson, but the 2022 undrafted free agent showed he can play at the NFL level (albeit requiring some refinement). Butler arrived with the reputation of a frenetic, energy-type defender who is hard-nosed and works hard on coverage elements. Butler was hesitant at times and negated the read-and-react skills he had at Arizona State. Perhaps Year 2 is where things click.

Surefire starter

Deablo. Dubbed “swole” by Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham for the muscle mass Deablo added this offseason—in fact, the linebacker said he lost mass to feel right—there’s a lot riding on Deablo’s development. He played in just eight games but amassed 74 total tackles in that span. Deablo is more confident, and perhaps that confidence translates into sure tackles and takeaways—something the safety-turned-linebacker was keen to do at Virginia Tech.

Who knows? Maybe Deablo follows in the footsteps of the Arizona Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons, another safety-turned-linebacker in the pros who’s moving back to his college position of defensive back?

Season Outlook

If Deablo doesn’t continue his upward trajectory in Year 3—gulp! As most fans are aware, Vegas seemed to ignore the position. They didn’t invest much draft or financial capital. Yikes. In fact, Burney was the only draftee—a sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The group is then rounded up by undrafted types. Does that mean they can’t rise to the occasion since they were bypassed by all 32 teams in drafts?

Deablo and Masterson are likely the two starting outside linebackers, with Burney mixing in. If it becomes Deablo and Burney, I wouldn’t be surprised.

One last thing to consider: The Raiders do deploy nickel, and in those sets, there are often only two linebackers on the field, which would likely mean Robert Spillane (the penciled-in starting middle linebacker) and Deablo at those two spots.

*Top Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

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