Oakland Raiders: 53-Man roster projection

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) catches a pass as Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) tackles him in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports


Strong-Side Linebacker: Ray-Ray Armstrong, Reserve: Neiron Ball

Middle Linebacker: Curtis Lofton, Reserve: Ben Heeney

Weak-Side Linebacker: Malcolm Smith, Reserve: Sio Moore

Although reckless at times, Ray-Ray Armstrong is the best candidate for Oakland’s weak-side linebacker spot within their 4-3 defense. Now entering his third season in the NFL, Armstrong is in a position to prove that he can excel in a starting role, but he will have to remain disciplined he wants to continue as the starter.

While Armstrong’s energy and non-stop effort is something to be admired, it sometimes gets him into trouble with the referees. Though penalties are apart of the game, Armstrong struggles with penalties that are avoidable like personal fouls and unnecessary roughness.

The former University of Miami (Fla.) strong safety holds his own in coverage and is athletic enough to fly to the ball from sideline to sideline, but he still on a short leash given his on-the-field concerns.

On the other hand, Sio Moore has struggled to even get on the field, as he still working his way back into the starting lineup after undergoing hip surgery earlier this offseason.

Moore has also been in the headlines for attacking a reporter over twitter recently, which should only hurt his chances of getting on Del Rio’s good side.

Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith has performed quite well at the outside linebacker position ahead of Moore, as he consistently makes tackles in the open field and rarely is out of position on any given play. With his consistent play on the outside, the idea of having Moore come in on sub-packages as an extra edge-rusher seems more appealing then having him start ahead of Smith.

Inside linebackers Curtis Lofton and Ben Heeney have both put together impressive preseasons, as they both seem to be tackling machines when on the football field. Though Lofton gets the edge due to the Raiders overall investment in him and his experience, Heeney isn’t to far away from seeing serious playing time for the Silver and Black.

Next: Oakland Raiders Roster Projections: Defensive Backs