Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Examining the Roster, One Week Later

8 of 10

Aug 15, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) is congratulated by outside linebacker Sio Moore (55) after recording a sack against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Lions 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

7. Linebackers

Players let go and released: Nick Roach.

Players signed: Curtis Lofton and Malcom Smith

Incumbents: Sio Moore, Khalil Mack, Miles Burris, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Bojay Filimoeatu, Spencer Hadley and Justin Jackson

Probable starters: Curtis Lofton, Khalil Mack and Sio Moore

With a GM, head coach and defensive coordinator that are all former NFL linebackers, you would expect the Raiders to have made the linebacker position a priority. Reggie McKenzie has drafted a linebacker in each of the three drafts he has orchestrated as Raider GM, and three of his drafted linebackers – Khalil Mack, Sio Moore and Miles Burris – remain on the roster.

The Raiders seemed to have found their outside linebackers in Sio Moore and Khalil Mack, an exciting duo of young players who were both highly active in the Raiders defense as it improved over the final six games. Moore, a traditional 4-3 Will linebacker, is a fast, aggressive player who is an effective pass-rusher but is still somewhat raw against the run and in pass coverage. Khalil Mack, who is a big linebacker who played a lot as an “over” Sam linebacker, essentially acting as a fifth defensive lineman, is a hard-to-block edge rusher who threatens the quarterback on every dropback, but who can also react well and shut down outside runs and can snuff out a screen play as good as anyone.

Live Feed

3 Ways the Atlanta Falcons can win free agency in 2023
3 Ways the Atlanta Falcons can win free agency in 2023 /

Blogging Dirty

  • Chargers are all in: 3 massive implications of Bosa and Mack restructures Bolt Beat
  • 3 galaxy-brain trades the Detroit Lions would love to make FanSided
  • 3 potential cap casualties for Broncos to monitor in 2023 Predominantly Orange
  • 5 Chargers who are likely entering their last year with the team Bolt Beat
  • 3 former Chicago Bears superstars eliminated from NFL Playoffs Da Windy City
  • Unfortunately, the Raiders have had less luck finding a middle linebacker. After veteran Nick Roach – who McKenzie signed in 2012 to be the captain of Dennis Allen’s defense – went down for the season with a concussion and Kaluka Maiava missed significant time with injuries, Miles Burris started most of the season at the position. Burris, a 2012 draft selection, played abysmally, and mid-season additions and promotions like Bojay Filimoeatu, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Jamar Chaney did not help.

    McKenzie went out in free agency and got two new linebackers: Curtis Lofton, a long-time starting 4-3 mike backer who came up in a defensive system in Atlanta orchestrated by former Del Rio Assistants Mike Smith and Brian VanGorder; and Malcolm Smith, who has had Raider DC Ken Norton, Jr. as his position coach since he got to USC in 2007. Lofton is a pure two-down run thumper and defensive quarterback who was a team captain in New Orleans, and who has racked up tons of tackles in his career. Smith, meanwhile, is a former Super Bowl MVP, and an undersized one-down cover linebacker who has the speed to cover man-to-man and has solid zone instincts. Smith may also be insurance for Sio Moore at the Will position, as Moore is missing a significant portion of the offseason while rehabbing from hip surgery.

    Jack Del Rio gets the most out of linebackers, and will likely find ways to maximize the skillsets of both acquisitions, as well as with the players already on the roster. Look for the Raiders to use various linebackers situationally in 2015, but with Mack, Moore and Lofton as the three-man base lineup if all three are healthy. Burris will likely remain on the roster going into the season and find a role as well, but Justin Jackson, Filimoeatu and Armstrong, if they stay at all, will likely be special teams players almost exclusively.

    Next: Raiders Roster Breakdown: Defensive Back