With the Raiders last pick in the draft which they received from Detroit in a trade, they chose Penn State linebacker Nathan Stupar. He played outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions but according to Stupar, the Raiders always saw him as a middle linebacker.
"Yeah, they were straight to the point," said Stupar of the Raiders. "They were like, ‘We see you playing middle, doing some middle, getting right in there and getting some action at the middle.' They know I can play some special teams as well and use my skills on special teams."
Stupar would compete with Travis Goethel for the backup spot at middle linebacker behind Rolando McClain initially. Depending on what happens with McClain and his court case, he could be suspended which means that competition could actually be for the starting job.
But Stupar says he has a lot of work to do before he can think about contributing as a middle linebacker on the NFL level.
"[I need to work on] the transition to middle linebacker. I've been playing outside the whole college career. I played some middle in some nickel packages. I'm sure I'll get used to it really fast. I'm a quick learner, and just being able to use my hands in tight and defeating blocks more easily."
"They didn't decide or tell me anything about the specific defense, but they told me that they wanted me as an inside linebacker."
"A lot of different teams, teams with 3-4's saw me as a middle linebacker, then teams with a 4-3 saw me as outside. So I got a lot of diversity with teams wanting me inside and outside."
They call the middle linebacker the ‘quarterback of the defense' and being a quarterback with the Raiders is something with which Stupar is familiar. His uncle was former Raider quarterback Jeff Hostetler.
Said Stupar of his uncle Jeff "I just saw him play and stuff growing up,"
But despite his relative closeness to the Raiders', he had no idea he would become a Raider. At least his uncle gave him no indication.
"He really hasn't told me anything," said Stupar. "I had no idea that the Raiders were even interested, and all of a sudden I get a call from Oakland, Calif. I go, ‘What do these guys want?' We talked to the coaches. So it was just an exciting time. Can't wait."
Stupar played at Penn State so aside from joining fellow draft pick, Jack Crawford, from Happy Valley to Oakland, he will join a former teammate Stefen Wisniewski. A guy who knows what it's like to have an uncle who played for the Raiders.
"Stefen's a really good friend of mine, so it's going to be awesome to be out there with him."
There seems to be quite the Penn State pipeline starting here. And they don't call Penn State "Linebacker U" for nothing. They are known for producing top tier linebacker, especially in the middle. Stupar could be the latest.
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