The Las Vegas Raiders need to bring in an impact linebacker at pick No. 19, and here are two legitimate options this April.
Last season there was a revolving door of replacement pieces at linebacker for the Las Vegas Raiders. Vontaze Burfict was brought in to be the quarterback of Paul Guenther's defense. But that experiment was short lived when the linebacker who is notorious for dirty play was slapped with a 12-game suspension for a questionable hit on Colts tight end, Jack Doyle.
Marquel Lee entered the 2019 campaign after a strong finish in the previous year but dealt with a variety of injuries that derailed his season that ended with a trip to injured reserve.
After the suspension to Burfict, Whitehead was thrust into the starting Mike linebacker role. Whitehead was exposed in coverage time and time again.
Just this week the Raiders announced they had released Tahir Whitehead, saving $6 million in cap space. That leaves only one linebacker currently under contract. To state the obvious the defense is desperate for a linebacker.
If the need is not addressed through free agency the second (19th overall) of their two first round picks would be a nice spot to pick up one of the two top linebackers not named Isaiah Simmons.
Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma and Patrick Queen of LSU are considered to be the next two linebackers to hear their names called after Simmons.
There is a lot to like about both of these prospects who fit the mold of the modern day NFL linebacker.
So the question is, if you were the one calling the shots for the Raiders, which linebacker are you selecting with the 19th overall pick?
Kenneth Murray is your prototypical three down linebacker. He is twitched up and explosive. He has sideline to sideline speed, evidence of his 4.5 forty time.
His play speed and ability to fly around and make plays is his calling card. He is quick to diagnose plays and attack. He will gobble up any short pass or screen game in the flats.
Total package. Sideline to sideline speed, quick to diagnose plays, can blitz, sure tackler, high effort, emotion. Going to post some clips. pic.twitter.com/GpoONGqhHD
— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) January 12, 2020
Murray was also used effectively to blitz off the edge and up the middle, which of course an area on the Raiders defense that could use some help.
Here he is on a stunt through the middle for a sack against Texas.
The greatest traits that Murray posses might very well be his leadership and high character. Last year Mike Mayock put an emphasis on drafting foundational talents, with high character, who love the game of football.
Murray is the perfect example of that. The son of a pastor and a retired police officer, you will never have to worry about off the field issues. His love for the game is clear when you see him play. His motor never quits, he plays with extremely high effort and enthusiasm.
High effort, high motor...You think this guy loves football? His game speed looks extremely fast, interested to see his 40 time. pic.twitter.com/zqVC1SlUlw
— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) January 12, 2020
Simply put Murray is an alpha male that could anchor the middle of the Raiders defense for years to come.
NFL Comparison: Kwon Alexander
The interesting thing about Queen's rise up draft boards is that in his three years at LSU he only made 16 starts. In fact he only logged 1,035 career snaps versus Murray's 2,677.
While there is not as much tape to evaluate, it is equally as impressive.
Queen was an instrumental part of LSU's defense during their title run in 2019. He played his best football in the seasons biggest moments, highlighted by winning most valuable player on defense in the CFP national championship game.
Of the two, Queen is the better coverage linebacker. His understanding of route concepts is sharp, he was not tested often in man to man coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just half a yard per coverage snap.
Much like Murray, Queen has great speed for the linebacker position (4.50) which allows him to play with incredible range. His instincts and high IQ allows him to sift through the trash and get to the ball.
As a rusher from the inside he has shown the ability to slip blocks and use his closing speed to make the play.
Patrick Queen's speed is what jumps out. Great blitzer + coverage LB. Makes plays all over the place pic.twitter.com/TRB46alQWX
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) January 15, 2020
Bottom line is Patrick Queen has all the tools you look for in a linebacker in today's NFL.