Raider Linebackers: Thin or Just Unproven?
Jon York – Aug 29, 2012
Some fans seem to be worried about the linebackers on this team. Questions about the starters aside there seems to be concern over depth.
Are they Raiders really thin at linebacker or are the players just unproven?
With Aaron Curry getting closer to returning the starters are set, though not without flaws. Curry was a disappointment in Seattle and inconsistent in Oakland but plays with an aggression we hope the new staff can use properly. Rolando McClain gets another shot to validate his college hype and draft status. Philip Wheeler was a solid player for the Colts who is chomping at the bit to play in a more diverse scheme.
The backups have seen very little NFL action but every player begins somewhere. More than one coaching staff has spoken highly of Travis Goethel's talent - I don't have to mention his health issues. Both 'backers drafted this season have drawn both criticism and praise but the overall sense is that the staff is pleased with Miles Burris and Nathan Stupar.
That is six linebackers. Three obvious starters (assuming Curry comes the rest of the way back) and three young players to back them up and play special teams.
Is that thin?
Last season the Raiders had Kamerion Wimbley, Curry, McClain, Daryl Blackstock, and Quentin Groves. Filling in part time due to health or roster moves were Ricky Brown and Bruce Davis. They played with six linebackers last year.
Perhaps a poor defense on an 8-8 team is a bad example.
The last Raiders playoff team started Bill Romanowski, Napoleon Harris, and Eric Barton. A good group, but what was their depth? Mike Jones playing on his last legs. Travian Smith and Tim Johnson rounded it out. Six linebackers: the starters, one veteran backup and two players who were never any more than depth and special teams.
One question tied to depth is whether or not the team should have brought in a veteran to push McClain. That's an issue with the starter, not an issue with depth. To be fair, perhaps the staff wants him to have a clear mind while getting the chance to play in a defense far better than anything Chuck Bresnehan could cook up.
There is still time (and cap space) to make a move. However, if they don't the depth isn't any worse than it was in 2011... Or 2002.
This isn't a thin group of linebackers. It isn't a group lacking talent or hanging on for a paycheck. It's just a group that haven't had the chance yet to show us what they can do.
Not thin, just unproven.
Like Raider Nation Times
How Would You Grade the Raiders Live Mock Draft?