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Raiders Draft Radar 2013: Linebacker

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Which linebacker prospects in the 2012 draft are most likely to show up on the Raiders draft radar?

Ezra Shaw

We move on to the linebackers as I work through the positions and players on the Raiders draft radar. Along with the player, I include the round in which the Raiders would be likely to take the player should he be available with their pick in that round.

Coming into this off-season, no position was more in need than linebacker. There was just one returning starter from last year's team - Miles Burris. The team went out and signed three new linebackers who all have a good shot at starting - Kaluka Maiava, Nick Roach, and Kevin Burnett. Those jobs will not be handed to them and the Raiders also need depth at linebacker.

Here are those linebackers who show up on the Raiders draft radar:

Chase Thomas, Stanford - Round 3

Jason Tarver would be in favor of adding his former outside linebacker from Stanford. Under Tarver, Thomas had the most tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (8.5) of any of his four seasons as a Cardinal. He is versatile, which is a big plus, as the Raiders will look to line up in multiple formations. Thomas can play Strong side linebacker in a 4-3 or rush outside linebacker in a 3-4. He is an average athlete who gets the job done through hard work, grit, and instincts. What the Raiders were looking for in Miles Burris on the weak side, they would find in Thomas for the strong side.

Kieth Pough, Howard - Round 4

The only knock on Pough is that he played against inferior competition. Everything else is positive, especially with regard to his football character. Words like tough, hard-nosed, throwback, and leader get thrown around a lot when discussing Pough. He has those intimidation and vocal qualities that hearken back to classic Silver and Black. He would also bring some vocal leadership to a team that desperately needs it. As for his on-field performance, it is of course outstanding. The four-year starter had 349 tackles, 72 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in his college career while missing three starts.

Travis Johnson, San Jose State - Round 6

Starting every game the past three seasons at defensive end for the Spartans, Johnson has been nothing short of a beast on the field. His numbers have gone up season, culminating with a 21.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last season. He has averaged over 65 tackles per season as a starter. He is seen as a guy who would transition to linebacker in the pros but he could also play outside linebacker in a 3-4 or line up as a defensive end in a 4-3.

Nick Clancy, Boston College - Round 7

The Raiders are going to be looking for a diamond in the rough to be their backup middle linebacker behind Nick Roach. Nick Clancy has all the qualities that suggest he could be that player. He was stuck behind the phenomenal Luke Kuechly his first three seasons but given his shot last season, he exploded for 145 tackles. Those kind of tackle numbers can't be understated. It helped earn him a place on the All ACC First team. His lack overall stats is the primary reason he is a late round pick. Otherwise, he has plenty of upside and at 6-2, 233 pounds, he has room to add weight to his frame.

Brandon Hepburn, Florida A&M - Round 7-FA

This former walk-on, has had to work for everything he's gotten - and now he has a chance to work his way into the NFL. He is considered a special teams type player at this point but just as he worked his way into being an NFL prospect, he has the character and work ethic to eventually work his way into the defensive lineup as well. But at very least, getting a special teams standout in round 7 would be a great pick.