The Oakland Raiders desperately needed to find themselves both starters and depth for their line backing unit. After Philip Wheeler signed with the Miami Dolphins, and with the expected release of Rolando McClain, the Raiders were bare bones at linebacker. Second year player, Miles Burris was the only viable starter on the team.
Since then, the Raiders have signed two linebackers. First it was Kaluka Maiava at the beginning of free agency. And now, the Raiders have signed former Chicago Bears Linebacker Nick Roach, in what has been the biggest signing for the Raiders this off season.
Roach is a strong side linebacker, but he also showed that he is versatile enough to play in the middle when he filled in for an injured Brian Urlacher. Here is what Scouts Inc. has to say about Roach:
Roach had another excellent season for the Bears in 2012. He has been a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent. He has adequate size with good strength and athleticism for the outside linebacker position. He takes on blockers with deceptive power and has the ability to be physical as a tackler in space. He is an instinctive linebacker with range in pursuit. Roach is a self-made player who wins with toughness, intelligence and technique.
The Raiders now have three viable starters at the linebacker position with Burris, Maiava and Roach. Burris showed a ton of potential in his rookie season and is expected to be a starter in Oakland for years to come. Roach showed how versatile he is when he filled in for Urlacher last season, and in general has been a very solid player for the Bears.
Maiava is the weak spot in that starting three. He was a good special teams player for the Cleveland Browns, but he was also on the verge of losing his starting position. Hopefully McKenzie has found another gem in Maiava like he did with Wheeler last season.
But what is most exciting about the new line backing corps is their age. Unlike some of their other signings this off season, the linebackers are all young, and if they continue to develop in the way that I am sure McKenzie envisions they will, the Raiders could have their backers set for a few years at least.
The off season is finally starting to get exciting for the Raiders as fans can see their defense being put together, piece by piece. Roach may be the most exciting of the signings so far, by McKenzie has been active and while the Raiders do not look like they will be great, it does appear that McKenzie is attempting to build a strong core for the team.
The Raiders have officially announced the move.