Dave Ziegler, Raiders Sign Multi-Time Super Bowl Champ

Raiders Add Another Multi-Time Super Bowl Champion, This Time On Defense

The Raiders signed linebacker Darius Harris late Monday night, bringing much-needed depth to the weakest position on the roster. What does the two-time Super Bowl champion bring to the Silver and Black? Can he help elevate the defense Dave Ziegler has crafted in any way?

Gauging The Current Raiders Depth Chart At LB

General manager Dave Ziegler has largely ignored the linebacker position since taking the reins in Vegas. He has yet to use any high-end assets toward it. On the free agent market, Jayon Brown, Kyler Fackrell, and Micah Kiser joined Denzel Perryman in 2022. As the team enters training camp, not a single one of these linebackers remains on the roster. Fackrell and Kiser didn’t even log a snap with the Raiders.

The depth chart, as a whole, looks jarringly different entering training camp.

In two drafts with the Raiders, sixth-round pick Amari Burney is the only linebacker who Dave Ziegler has selected. And frankly, Burney is a safety still learning to play linebacker, so even that is a reach. It remains to be seen how he figures into the game plan for 2023.

Undrafted rookies from 2022 — Darien Butler and Luke Masterson — cling to roster spots, while third-year player Divine Deablo has received rave reviews from the coaching staff this offseason. He is the front-runner to wear the green dot on defense, serving as the “quarterback” of the unit — so to speak.

Free-agent signing Robert Spillane projects as the starter alongside Deablo. He, too, was once undrafted before carving out a respectable four-year stint with the Steelers from 2019-2022. Spillane is more of a depth piece in the ideal situation. However, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is not working with a winning hand.

So, how does the Raiders’ most recent addition change the landscape at LB?

Harris arrived in Kansas City as an undrafted rookie in 2019. Are you sensing a trend?

Dave Ziegler has a clear affinity for undrafted linebackers. He loves them more than a fat kid loves cake — and man, do I love cake! The veteran defender is 27 years old and has been an insurance piece for much of his career in the NFL.

Harris logged 288 snaps on special teams since 2020, posting run-of-the-mill PFF grades in this area. This past NFL season saw him log a career-high in snaps on defense, resulting in an impressive uptick in production.

In 292 snaps last season, Harris recorded 27 tackles, 15 stops, and two sacks. His pass-rushing and run-defense grades stood out as strengths while Harris served as the starter in place of the suspended Willie Gay from Week 3 to Week 6.

The Middle Tennessee alum even added a tackle to his Super Bowl resume during the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory over the Eagles. Even if the experience is minimal, how many people walking the planet can say they recorded a tackle in the “biggest game of them all”? Very, very few.

Darius Harris may not be THE answer for the Raiders, but he could be a part of it

At 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, Harris is in line with the body type Graham looks for at linebacker. He has a winning pedigree and knows what it is like to be in an organization that demands excellence. As far as the locker room goes, Harris should be an immediate boost.

On the field is where the newest Raider must prove himself. Flexing two Super Bowl rings is not enough to win over fans or his teammates, especially being on the sideline for most of the success. Just ask Jimmy Garoppolo.

Harris must put in the work at training camp to not only earn a roster spot but to hold onto it throughout the 2023 campaign. If he impresses the staff, several snaps are ripe for the picking — on special teams and at linebacker.

*Top Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski / Associated Press

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1 thought on “Raiders Add Another Multi-Time Super Bowl Champion, This Time On Defense”

  1. Great addition. Hope he comes to play instead of getting paid just to show up. Been way too much of that on this team in….forever.

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