Reggie McKenzie correctly decided not to reach for a LB

Sep 10, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Marquel Lee (8) celebrates after a sack during the third quarter against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium. Wake defeated Duke 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Marquel Lee (8) celebrates after a sack during the third quarter against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium. Wake defeated Duke 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Most of the fanbase is upset that Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders waited so long to draft a linebacker, but it was the correct decision based on how the draft went.

Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, despite the 12-4 record in 2016, the Oakland Raiders still had plenty of holes to fill — particularly on defense.

The defense was a mess last season, with very few bright spots. At every level, the Raiders were in need of an infuse of talent. From the defensive line to the linebackers and the secondary, there was no area on defense that didn’t need help.

But one specific positional group had drawn the attention of Raider Nation, and that was the linebacker core. With Malcolm Smith gone and Perry Riley Jr. a question mark to return, prior to the draft, the Raiders had Jelani Jenkins, Ben Heeney and Cory James atop the depth chart.

So understandably, many fans were hoping this was an area that would be addressed. And not only addressed, but addressed early. And often.

The secondary saw reinforcement in the first two rounds and the defensive line saw a new addition in both the 3rd and the 7th round.

But the Raiders added exactly one linebacker, and it wasn’t until the 5th round. As a result, many fans are questioning whether Reggie McKenzie did enough to find help at the position.

Looking back at that draft results, McKenzie had little opportunity to draft a linebacker without reaching.

Round 1

In the first round, the fan favorite for the no. 24 overall selection was Jarrad Davis. A quality linebacker and a great athlete with worrisome medical history, including two meniscus surgeries and a plethora of other injuries. More often than not, he was on the injury report at Florida.

But all of that is a moot point, because Davis went off the board with the 21st pick to the Detroit Lions. And Haason Reddick, another popular choice, went 13th overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

The linebacker McKenzie passed on was Reuben Foster, who was widely considered at least a top ten talent in this class. But as mentioned here six days before the draft, this should have been expected.

Foster had shoulder surgery, and at the Combine, there were rumblings that he could require a second surgery. There was the incident that saw him sent home from the Combine, but before that, there was word of poor interviews.

There is rumored drug use at Alabama, which came to light as a result of the diluted drug test. All in all, it was an awful draft process for Foster, and there were simply too many questions marks for McKenzie to feel comfortable enough to make this move, both on and off the field.

Round 2

In the second round, there were a few potential linebacker targets, most notably Raekwon McMillan and Zach Cunningham.

Raekwon ended up going two picks prior — 54th overall to the Miami Dolphins. Zach Cunningham was still available, but there is absolutely no way McKenzie was going to draft a linebacker who struggles to tackle over a freak athlete in Obi Melifonwu.

At this point, there were no other linebackers to consider. And even so, none would have been a better option than Obi.

Round 3

Two rounds down, and still no linebacker. The panic among Raider Nation was starting to creep in.

Duke Riley and Alex Anzalone were the top options heading into the round, but they ended up as the 11th and 12th picks in round to the Falcons and Saints, respectively.

The best available option was Kendell Beckwith out of LSU. But as mentioned at the beginning, this defense needed help everywhere. So McKenzie went with Eddie Vanderdoes, a former 5-star recruit whose production suffered as a result of a torn ACL in 2015.

Vanderdoes is quite the talent, and he has the size and athleticism to make a significant impact on the defensive line. An NFL strength and conditioning program will help keep his weight at a manageable level, which is one his few concerns.

Beckwith ended up going 19 picks later. Jalen Reeves-Maybin was available, but considering the medical concerns, would have been reach in the third round.

Round 4

Three rounds in, and still no linebacker. Raider Nation is approaching red alert levels, and tension is high.

Heading into the round, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Ben Gedeon were the two names most considered as fourth round picks. Gedeon was the 14th pick in the round to Minnesota and Reeves-Maybin was the 18th pick in the round to Detroit.

With Blair Brown on the board, Reggie McKenzie opted to address the offensive line instead, going with tackle David Sharpe out of Florida, who had been the blindside protector to Luke Del Rio. I would say pun intended, but Sharpe has adamantly denied reports of being legally blind in his right eye.

This is the one spot where I would have liked McKenzie to go with a linebacker. Considering how the board fell to this point, going with one in an earlier round would have been a reach. And with the team needing help in all areas of the defense, reaching for one position and subsequently passing on a more talented player at another position is not a recipe for successful team building.

Round 5

With no linebacker selected using the first four picks, the panic among Raider Nation has reached defcon levels. The reigning Executive of the Year is yet to add a linebacker, but that’s about to change.

Jayon Brown and Anthony Walker Jr. end up as the 11th and 17th picks in the round, to the Titans and Colts, respectively. Blair Brown went before both, as the 4th pick of the round.

The talent at the position is just about depleted, but McKenzie nabs a player he’s had his eyes on since the Combine — Marquel Lee out of Wake Forest.

Lee checked all the boxes for McKenzie as a 6’3″ 240 thumper with good enough athleticism. He played inside linebacker for virtually his entire collegiate career, and was a slept on name throughout the draft process.

He’s a quality tackler, he can shed and play zone coverage, and has a solid all around game. He’ll likely struggle in man to man coverage, but there’s a lot to like about this pick.

Regardless of what happens with Perry Riley Jr., Lee will have an opportunity to prove himself and earn a starting job.

Ted Nguyen did a fantastic breakdown of him over at FanRag Sports, showing why Raider Nation should be excited about this find by Reggie McKenzie.

Must Listen: New Episode of the JBB Podcast

So breathe easy, everyone. The Raiders have their inside linebacker.