The Raiders increased their depth at linebacker in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected Colorado State's Cory James. What does James bring to the table and how will he contribute with the Silver and Black?
Weight: 245 lbs
2015: 65 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 10 Tackles For Loss
2014: 51 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks, 8.5 Tackles For Loss
2013: 60 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 12 Tackles For Loss
2012: 54 Tackles, 7.5 Sacks, 10.5 Tackles For Loss
2015: Second-Team All-Mountain West
2012: First-Team All-Freshman, Second-Team All-Mountain West
James was a four-year starter at Colorado State and comes to the Raider with plenty of experience. Even more impressive is that he was consistently productive all four years. The one area he declined was sacks, and a large part of that was because offenses began double-teaming him and making him a focus of their game plans.
The other major reason his sack numbers dropped in 2015 was because he switched to middle linebacker where he wasn't rushing the quarterback as often. Having the ability to play both linebacker positions offers the Raiders great versatility and depth in case one of their starters is injured. James also had a reputation at Colorado State for being a standout on Special Teams which is where he will likely make his money with the Raiders.
While James showed great effort and pursuit, his technique was often flawed. This can be improved with proper coaching. James also needs to improve his playing strength to help shed blocks and make tackles on a consistent basis.
What he brings to the Raiders:
The Raiders are absolutely loaded with depth at the outside linebacker position so I would expect James to contribute as a backup middle linebacker, but also as a Special Teams standout. Special Teams is one of the most underrated aspects of football, and field position can single-handedly change the outcome of a game. Many late round picks begin on Special Teams and work their way up, and I would expect that is the route Cory James will take with the Raiders.