The Las Vegas Raiders have a major need at the linebacker position in 2020, and LSU's Michael Divinity should be a target of the team in this year's draft.
After watching LSU’s defense dominate their opponents in 2019, I couldn’t help notice how violent and fast they were. Those are two characteristics the Las Vegas Raiders have lacked in previous years. One potential prospect that could bring some intensity to this up and coming Raiders defense is Tigers linebacker Michael Divinity.
He only played in six games this past season, however, he was dominant in those games. He split time at off-ball linebacker and defensive end. That versatility is coveted by Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and would certainly be welcome on a Raiders defense in need of help in both areas.
Divinity does come with off field concerns, however, with Jon Gruden and this Raiders atmosphere, I think he could focus on football and get back on track. Similar to a Darren Waller situation, whose the starting tight end for the Raiders, Divinity would find the kind of family atmosphere needed with the Silver and Black.
Those off field concerns will make him drop in the draft, which will be beneficial for the Raiders. I think he could be targeted anywhere from the 4th-6th round range and he will be worth the risk.
He shows tremendous speed and bend around the edge when playing defensive end. He could come in as a sub package defensive end and bring intensity to the Raiders defensive line, which showed great growth in 2019. Divinity did spend a lot of time at off ball linebacker as well, especially in 2018, where he was a starting outside linebacker for the Tigers.
Watching him play against Auburn and Texas was a treat considering how he dominated in those games. He shows potential, however, is a little raw in his pass rush moves. He wins more with speed and bend, than he does hand technique. Having Rod Marinelli, the former Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach, added to this coaching staff could help him learn some counter pass rush moves and better hand technique.
When Divinity was asked to drop into coverage, he shows decent ability and awareness of his surroundings. However, I would’ve liked more man-to-man coverage snaps to see his ability to turn and locate the ball. That is one thing with experience, I think he could show improvement on.
Giving the Raiders some speed on defense is a must and I think Michael Divinity is well worth the risk in the later rounds of the 2020 NFL draft.