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Lions writer weighs in on LB Tahir Whitehead, what Raiders can expect from him

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Who better than someone who has covered every one of Tahir Whitehead’s NFL games to speak with

NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the Raiders top free agent signing this offseason was former Lions’ linebacker, Tahir Whitehed. The 27-year-old signed a 3-year deal with Oakland as a versatile linebacker able to play any of the three positions.

In order to get the backstory on the Whitehead, I spoke with Jeremy Reisman of SB Nation Lion’s blog, Pride of Detroit. His detailed response give us a clue as to what the Raiders can expect from him.

Tahir Whitehead consistently improved year to year. As a fifth-round draft pick, he was never really expected to be much more than a special teams contributor. After doing that for a couple years, he got his first real shot when veteran Stephen Tulloch infamously tore his ACL celebrating an Aaron Rodgers sack. Whitehead thrived in that role as the team’s middle linebacker in what would be Detroit’s most successful defensive season in decades. While it’s probably true that having Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in front of him made him look better, the fact that he was able to step in and immediately replace a respected veteran like Tulloch without losing a step was seriously impressive.

“When Tulloch returned the next season, Whitehead had to do what he’s consistently done throughout his career: Fight for a starting job. After being demoted to backup on the outside, Whitehead finally found a starting role as the strong side linebacker halfway through the 2015 season.

“The following season, Whitehead assumed the starting middle linebacker position, and although he posted his best statistical season (132 tackles), he actually looked more uncomfortable and out of place. His coverage skills have always been an issue, and he’s not the quickest read-and-respond defender at the position.

“In 2017, the Lions kicked him back outside and his play immediately rebounded. Tahir is a sound tackler and an above-average run defender. Occasionally, the Lions liked to send him on a blitz, and while it’s not something he’s fantastic at, it’s something that’s in his wide arsenal.

“Overall, Whitehead is very much a jack of all trades, but master at none type of player. He has some scheme versatility, but is best kept on the outside. His only real glaring weakness is his coverage abilities, whether it’s man or zone responsibilities. Outside of that, however, he’s an average or above average player at just about everything else.”

Thanks again to Me Reisman.