Starters: NaVorro Bowman, Cory James, (Edge rushing OLB are here)
Backups: Nicholas Morrow, Marquel Lee, Brady Sheldon
Free agents: NaVorro Bowman
Another year of rolling the dice by making middle linebacker not a priority yielded the same result it has the past five years. But this time, the Raiders fell into a tremendous stroke of luck when, just prior to week five, the 49ers released 29-year-old former All Pro linebacker, NaVorro Bowman. Signing him was about as no-brainer a decision as you can get. He started from day one and would finish as the team’s leading tackler in just ten games.
Before Bowman arrived, rookie round five pick Marquel Lee was the starter in the middle. That wasn’t going well at all. He was buried on the depth chart after that.
James was the starter at weak side linebacker for nine games before being lost for the season.
Taking over at weak side linebacker once James went down was undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow. The former Division III player just kept getting better and better as the season went on, and it looks like they could have a gem on their hands.
Sheldon was an undrafted rookie who was called up from the practice squad late in the season and appeared in two games, primarily on special teams.
The instability of this position rests solely on the status of NaVorro Bowman. If they keep him on a multi-year deal, there is no crucial immediate need. But if the team doesn’t bring him back, the need at middle linebacker jumps immediately to critical. The other inside/weak side linebacker spot features a nice competition between Cory James and Nicholas Morrow.
What condition do you think the Raiders’ linebacker position is in?
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