Outside linebacker is one of the few positions the Raiders left untouched in the off-season. They have three set starters, one of which being their best draft pick from last season, Sio Moore. With out any vets signed, it opens up the possibility of drafting depth and future replacements.
Though Kevin Burnett and Nick Roach played well last season, they were far from irreplaceable. Roach did a fine job in his mental duties as middle linebacker but struggled with cutting through traffic and shedding blocks in the middle. Burnett's tackling deficiencies become quite evident in the team's late defensive collapse.
There are upgrades and future building blocks to be had in this draft. Here are those who have the best shot of finding their way to Oakland.
Khalil Mack, Buffalo - Round 1
One of the biggest no brainer at any position in this draft. He is the total package. Technically he doesn't fit the Raiders base 4-3 scheme but who cares. He could be put in as a 4-3 defensive end and switch to outside linebacker when the Raiders use a 3-4 set, which they do quite often. Quite frankly, if Mack is available at the number five pick, the Raiders must take him.
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State - Round 2
After the first couple outside linebackers in this draft, there is a bit of a drop-off. That drop off stops at the tail end of the first round with Shazier. He is considered the best 4-3 weakside linebacker in this draft so if he were on the board at pick 36, he has to be near the top of the Raiders draft board. He would likely immediately step as the starter ahead of Kevin Burnett. If not, he would be eased into the job.
Jordan Tripp, Montana - Round 3
His career at Montana was something to behold. Aside from his sophomore season where he was out with injury, he averaged 98 tackles per season. He just has a nose for the ball and makes plays. He is also quite an athlete, landing as a top performer in nearly every combine workout including having the best 20-yard shuttle among linebackers (3.96).
Shayne Skov, Stanford - Round 4
Simply put: a beast. He wreaked havoc on opponents during his college career with the Cardinal. He has all the instincts and brute toughness an NFL team looks for in an inside or middle linebacker. One key area in which he does well is shedding blocks - something Raiders current middle linebacker Nick Roach struggles with. Skov was coached by current Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver his sophomore season when Tarver was Stanford's co-defensive coordinator.
Morgan Breslin, USC - Round 7
A Bay Area product, having attended Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek and Diablo Valley College in nearby Pleasant Hill before transferring to USC. The 6-1, 246 pound pass rusher had a fantastic season in 2012 in his first year for the Trojans. That season in 13 starts he had 13.0 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, and 62 tackles. He played in just 5 games in 2013 before being lost for the year with a hip injury. Prior to his injury, he was already on pace to match his 2012 numbers with 4.5 sacks in five games. His main problem is he falls in that grey area between positions. He projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker though he has some coverage deficiencies. He could play 4-3 defensive end but is undersized.