The Raiders Will Regret Letting LB Drake Thomas Hit Waivers

The Raiders Will Regret Letting LB Drake Thomas Hit Waivers

The Las Vegas Raiders have made strides to overhaul a roster that only won six games in the 2022 season. General manager Dave Ziegler has been busy, from bringing in a different quarterback to adding some juice to the defense. However, after finding an undrafted gem at linebacker, the Raiders released Drake Thomas, allowing him to hit waivers.

The N.C. State product was arguably the most impressive linebacker in Vegas this offseason; a low bar, to be sure. But still, Thomas’ red-hot motor and nose for the football was a welcomed sight for much of Raider Nation.

Drake Thomas Put On A Show This Preseason

-Game 1:

3 tackles; 1 tackle for loss vs. Niners

-Game 2:

12 tackles; 1 tackle for loss vs. Rams

-Game 3:

7 tackles vs. Cowboys

*(All stats via ESPN)*

Now, I know what you are saying. “Hunter, Drake Thomas was only playing against scrubs”. That is fair enough; the level of competition did not mirror what he will see on NFL Sundays. But it doesn’t take away how impressive Thomas looked if you asked me, especially as an undrafted free agent.

It is also important to note how mediocre the linebacking corps has looked since Ziegler took the reins. Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane enter the year as the expected starters, with Deablo donning the green dot as the “quarterback of the defense”.

Although the coaching staff has hyped Deablo up all off-season, I am still skeptical about his ability to be the best linebacker on a competitive roster. Spillane does little to inspire more faith at the top of the depth chart, as he has been a liability in coverage and run defense for the majority of his career.

Luke Masterson serves as the LB3. He is described best as a sure-tackler who lacks the traits to be anything more than that. Rookie Amari Burney is intriguing in his own right, boasting safety-like traits at linebacker, even if still raw. Curtis Bolton earned his spot with his special teams background, but questions surround his viability as a defender.

Will The Raiders Regret Letting Thomas Walk?

There is reason to believe this year’s linebacker unit will see significant improvement from the 2022 incarnation. But getting rid of Drake Thomas effectively caps the group’s ceiling.

Thomas is slightly undersized but brings considerable experience to the table from his Wolfpack days. As the primary starter at MLB, the 23-year-old racked up hundreds of tackles during his stint on campus. To cement his status as a ballhawk, Thomas also picked off several passes and served as a thumper in the run game.

Alas, his remarkable college career did not translate into hearing his name called at the 2023 NFL Draft. Instead, he signed with the Raiders soon after the event and vowed to earn a roster spot by Week 1.

Sadly, the dream for Thomas earning a roster spot didn’t come to fruition. At least not with the Raiders, as Vegas sent him a pink slip on Tuesday, causing an uproar from some members of the passionate Raider Nation, while others responded with, “he didn’t get drafted for a reason”.

Regardless of where you stand on the situation, few can deny that linebacker is the weakest spot on Patrick Graham’s defense. It is hard to believe that Thomas wouldn’t have positively impacted that unit, whether it be on Week 1 or later on down the line.

The Seahawks Swoop In; Claim LB Drake Thomas

Now, the Raiders will not get a chance to see it through. Ziegler and Co. hoped that Thomas would clear waivers and return to their practice squad — but the Seattle Seahawks had other plans.

Once the waiver wire additions started dropping on Wednesday, it didn’t take long to see Drake Thomas pop up on X. The always-savvy Seahawks put in a claim and got awarded with Thomas.

When Josh McDaniels was specifically asked about the Drake Thomas transaction, McDaniels offered an honest response. “You take a chance with every player you release and hope you can get him back to your practice squad,” the Raiders head coach said on Wednesday.

Vegas rolled the dice and came up empty. The front office did an admirable job of reshaping the roster this offseason, but this Drake Thomas situation will ultimately go down as a misstep for the regime. The Seahawks will prove this old adage to the Raiders — You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

Join The Ramble Email List

error: Nice Try!
Subscribe to RaiderRamble

Get updates from RaiderRamble via email:

Join 6,247 other subscribers