defensive back Leonard Johnson (23) of Iowa State and linebacker Demario Davis (28) celebrate a defensive play during the Senior Bowl
It is no secret the Raiders main focus this offseason was going to be outside linebacker. At one time they had one outside linebacker on the team-Aaron Curry. They have since signed Philip Wheeler to start on the opposite side. So at very least, the team is in serious need of some depth at the position.
Wheeler is on a one year deal and Curry took a pay cut with his extension with voidable years. The team is not convinced either of them are the answer at outside linebacker. New GM Reggie McKenzie would also like to bring in some of his own guys and he loves his draft picks. I expect the Raiders to take a linebacker with one of their first two picks and likely select a couple of them in this draft.
Here are the players who best fit the Raiders and their plans for the defense.
Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest: Round 3
As is often the case, there is a good chance Wilber will be off the board when the Raiders pick at this spot. But that is kind of the point. Because if he IS still on the board, it would be a clear case of merging a need position with the best player available on the Raiders' board. Wilber lined up in a 3-4 defense at Wake Forest and excelled in that system. He was a four year starter with some impressive numbers. The last two seasons, he averaged 68 tackles per season, 13 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. He is s smart player who matches it with effort and work ethic. At 6-3, 249 pounds, can line up as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 strong side linebacker.
Josh Kaddu, Oregon Round 4
This Bay Area product has said he would consider being drafted by the Raiders as a blessing. His credentials include helping lead the Oregon Ducks to the National Championship game his junior season and a Rose Bowl victory as a Senior. Last season he had 50 tackles, and 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He is aggressive with fluid hips which make him a asset in coverage. He improved his numbers every season at Oregon and is valued greatly for his potential. His 6-2 frame can add more weight which would improve his pass rushing as well.
Miles Burris, San Diego State Round 5
He is the kind of guy the draft analysts like to call a high-motor guy. I wouldn't suggest playing a drinking game during the draft on how many times they use the words "effort", "aggressive", "high-motor", or "relentless" unless you want to get wasted pretty quickly. Reggie McKenzie had a guy in Green Bay with whom Burris can be compared by the name of Clay Mathews. Burris is not considerably athletic but he makes up for it with his relentless (drink) aggressive (drink) high motor (drink). Not to mention his unselfish play and coachability (when in doubt, drink). He can play both 3-4 outside linebacker and strong side linebacker (hiccup).
Demario Davis, Arkansas State: Round 5
A two-time All Sun Belt defensive first teamer, he is a holy terror on the field. His skills and athleticism compare very closely to Aaron Curry. The Raiders know what to expect from Curry as a linebacker and they brought him back for those skills. Davis' primary limitation is in coverage.
Sammy Brown, Houston: Round 6
Brown led the nation with 28 tackles for loss last season. He has an uncanny knack for tracking down the ball carrier and eluding blockers to get into the backfield. He also has fluid hips for play in coverage. He has decent size at 6-1, 243 pounds as well as long arms.
Tim Fugger, Vanderbilt Round 6
Fugger did lead the Commodores in sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (13.5). He raised his draft stock considerably at his Pro Day last month where he ran a 40 yard dash in the 4.5 range and benched 225 pounds an impressive 29 times.