If there is one position the Oakland Raiders focused their attention on this offseason, it was at linebacker. The Raiders allowed Philip Wheeler, their most productive linebacker, to leave via free agency and released troubled middle linebacker Rolando McClain. General manager Reggie McKenzie rebuilt the position by adding several pieces with the intention of putting a better product on the field.
McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen love players who possess versatility. That was their strategy bringing in players at linebacker. Because the players can move to different positions, it gives the team the ability to run more defensive schemes, but blurs the line on who will play where. Training camp will begin to paint the picture of where all the new faces fit.
Nick Roach has impressed the coaching staff with his leadership ability during organized team activities. He looks to have made his mark as a possible starting outside linebacker. In his six seasons with the Chicago Bears, Roach contributed both inside and outside. That's a good problem to have for the Raiders, who struggled with depth at the position a season ago. Roach also brings 59 starts over the last five seasons and steady production. He will be a factor in the Raiders' linebacking corps this season. A solid training camp will leave little doubt he will be a starter.
Kevin Burnett joins Roach as another veteran outside linebacker added via free agency. In his last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Burnett has started every game and recorded more than 100 tackles. That production, experience, and durability will suit him well with the Raiders. During training camp, Burnett is looking to solidify his starting spot.
The Raiders used their third round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft to select Sio Moore from Connecticut. Moore brings versatility, having played several linebacker positions in college as well as every other position besides cornerback. He is a strong and sure tackler to go along with his above average coverage skills. He was ultra-productive at UConn with 274 tackles, including 44 for loss, and 16 sacks. He also forced four fumbles, recovered four more and intercepted four passes. The Raiders have a number of different options with Moore. He will be in the competition to earn a starting spot at training camp, but no matter what happens, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen need to find ways to get him on the field.
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