Las Vegas Raiders LB Tanner Muse is making a good impression with the coaching staff at training camp and is a favorite to make the roster
The Las Vegas Raiders decision to draft Clemson safety/linebacker in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft raised some eyebrows as many believed he was more likely to be a day-3 pick. Muse flashed plenty of raw talent and speed at the college level but his tweener status, playing both safety and LB in college, had some convinced that he would take time to acclimate to playing either position at the NFL level.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, those critics were right as Muse struggled to learn the intricacies of playing LB at the NFL level and he does not have the athleticism to play safety. Muse was one of the poor performers during training camp in 2020 and was eventually placed on injured reserve with a toe injury that surely impacts his ability to learn the position.
The Raiders had high hopes for Muse to make an impact right away with his size and speed and they are now hoping that he will be able to step up big in 2021. According to Sports Illustrated’s Hondo Carpenter, Muse has been a standout player in this year’s training camp and he considers him a shoo-in to make the roster.
Carpenter quoted defensive coordinator Gus Bradley speaking about the young LB and he said:
"“Yeah, he’s done a good job. He plays outside linebacker for us in base personnel, we moved him there. He’s got really good speed, very good speed. As you know in college that’s what showed up for him, so to have an athletic guy like that on the perimeter and we just got to see how he is when we get the pads on.”Source: SI.com"
As Bradley said, Muse primarily played “on the perimeter” in college as a safety and rover in Brent Venable’s system and he was a tackling and turnover machine. Many had him pegged as a poor man’s version of teammate Isaiah Simmons who was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals.
In 3 years as a starter, Muse racked up 170 tackles, 14 passes defended, and 6 interceptions. He was one of the standout players on a great Tigers defense that won a national championship and he will be looking to make the same impact in Silver and Black.
The Raiders have three good linebackers ahead of Muse on the depth chart but he has a chance to make an impact immediately on special teams and as a rotational player. He has the natural coverage skills that come from playing defensive back at a high level and that could be a huge bonus for the Raiders defense in a pass-happy era of the NFL.
Muse will have to stave off the likes of Divine Deablo, Darron Lee, and Javin White for the fourth LB spot but with positive performances in camp and preseason, along with his high draft status, he will be a favorite to make the roster and lockdown that spot on the depth chart.