Everyone has their opinions on what position the Raiders are in most need of a talent upgrade. Most have their top three needs as cornerback, defensive tackle, and linebacker. It just depends on who you ask as to what order they are in. Former Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew not only thinks linebacker is their biggest need, but he sees them needing one more than any other team in football.
Sunday, during linebacker workouts at the combine, MJD was asked to rank the top five teams with a need at linebacker. The Raiders were at the top of that list.
“They’ve been looking for linebackers on defense to fill the gaps,” MJD said of the Raiders. “They haven’t had an opportunity to do it. Reggie Nelson led them in tackles [last] year. That’s your free safety. Your free safety led you in tackles this year. . . That can’t happen that way, so they have to get a guy to come in... they got a guy in the fifth round [in 2017], hopefully they can get a first rounder. We know what they’re looking to do, if they can do that they’ll be good to go.”
Ok, so there are some things wrong with this statement by MJD. It’s a bit ironic actually, because Reggie Nelson was actually tied for the team lead in tackles (89). He was tied with LINEBACKER NaVorro Bowman who led the team in tackles. And he did it in just ten games. He had 127 tackles combined in 15 games with the Raiders and 49ers.
There has been no indication the team intends to bring back Bowman as the team’s starting middle linebacker. In fact, Gruden kinda sounds like he’s already assuming Bowman won’t be brought back.
Should that hold true, MJD could be right. Linebacker would be the major need. Arguably more than any other team in football.
The only linebackers worthy of being selected at 10 overall are Virgina Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds and Georgia’s Roquan Smith with Smith as the only pure middle linebacker.