What position the Raiders position is in: Linebacker

Thearon W. Henderson

Next up in our position by position analyses is the linebackers. One of a few completely rebuilt units on this Raiders team last season which was finally free from the tyranny of Rolando McClain and the dysfunction his presence brought with it. Here is what the Raiders linebacking corps looks like as it currently stands:

MLB Nick Roach - 16 starts, 110 tackles (82 solo), 5.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 interception

OLB Kevin Burnett - 16 starts, 104 tackles (82 solo), 2.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception

OLB Sio Moore - 11 starts, 49 tackles (38 solo), 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

OLB Kaluka Maiava - 1 start, 17 tackles (10 solo)

LB Miles Burris - 0 starts, 4 tackles (3 solo)

LB Kaelin Burnett - Special teams

Nick Roach received the biggest free agent deal of any new Raider last off-season. His tackle numbers led the team which is expected of a middle linebacker. He also was second on the team in sacks and led the team in takeaways (5). His intelligence from the position is unquestioned and he is almost always in the right position. Where he struggles is shedding blocks and stuffing runs. He usually makes the tackle but unfortunately it's after the back has picked up five yards and that's not going to get the job done.

Kevin Burnett is much the same in that his instincts are usually spot on and is highly intelligent, but his tackling is lacking. He too often tries to arm tackle and the ball carrier slips right through his grasp. Even still, he was extremely productive and his good plays typically outweigh the frustrating ones.

Sio Moore was the most productive rookie the Raiders had last season. That may not be saying much considering the Raiders weak and injury laden draft class so it's important to note he was one of the most productive players in his draft class. His play had him named to the PFWA All Rookie Team. He brought energy and fire to the Raiders' defense and, though he is still a bit raw, showed signs that he could develop into a very good player.

Kaluka Maiava was one of the first free agents the Raiders signed last off-season. He started 13 games for the Browns in 2012 and was expected initially to be a big contributor, sharing reps with Kevin Burnett. Things didn't play out that way with Maiava struggling with injuries much of the season before eventually being lost for the remainder of the season, and Burnett laying claim to the starting outside linebacker spot.

Miles Burris was a starter for his entire 2012 rookie campaign. He was second on the team in tackles that season but also had some tackling deficiencies. The team drafted Sio Moore to replace Burris and moved Burris to backup middle linebacker. He was on the PUP list most of the season before playing in a reserve role and special teamer the last six games of the season.

Kaelin Burnett doesn't contribute much at linebacker, seeing the field primarily on special teams. Kevin Burnett is his brother.

Grade: C+
Team need: Low

There isn't a whole lot of need at this position at present. The entire unit is under contract next season so there is no need to be concerned with anyone leaving as a free agent. Though they probably shouldn't simply stand pat at the position, they could get by with what they have if need be. The group is far from ideal which means some competition and depth could be worthwhile.

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