Many in Raider Nation wanted the Oakland Raiders to take Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster with their top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. But instead, they went with cornerback Gareon Conley at No. 24 overall. It wasn’t until round five that the Raiders made an attempt at ILB by taking Marquel Lee and that doesn’t look promising.
Conley was at one time projected into the top 10 and the Raiders were desperate for cornerback help. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu was a solid selection that can match up with tight ends. Third-round defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes figures to improve the Raiders’ interior pass rush. So they got great value at positions of huge need. When you need so much on a defense, it’s hard to get it all in one draft.
One could argue no position was more needed than inside linebacker and it remains a question mark with Raiders further disappointing fans by not claiming an ILB on waivers after the initial 53-man roster cuts.
But the Raiders didn’t need to draft an ILB early or put in a waiver claim on one. What they need to do is bring back Perry Riley Jr., who is still a free agent.
When the Raiders picked up Riley as a free agent last October, he was a difference maker. In the five weeks before they signed Riley, the Raiders gave up an historically bad 450 yards per game. Once Riley came in and took over the middle linebacker job, the defense played at top-10 level, giving up 338 yards per game.
So, why haven’t they re-signed such a difference-maker already? He’s still just 29 years old so what’s the problem?
Sometimes, solid players just don’t get the love or credit they deserve no matter what they do.
While Cory James looks like he could be ready to break out but Jelani Jenkins is now on injured reserve. Pairing up James and Riley could be just what the Raiders defense needs.
Should the Raiders bring back Perry Riley Jr?
This poll is closed