As the Raiders inch closer to the draft, how will they attempt to use picks to fill holes. As of this writing, the team still needs an infusion of talent at linebacker.
Ohio State linebackers in this era are speed merchants with solid coverage skills and Baker fills the void of legitimate space and chase type weak side linebacker. Guenther’s linebackers need to be able to play in space solidify contain in the run game. With a 4.53 speed, Baker could walk into a defense learn to play off the likes of Mack and Irvin while also becoming a true student of the game with Guenther and Gruden molding him in their image. He does not have to be a dominant run stuffer or pass rush extraordinaire. If he can play like he did at Ohio State, he will succeed. If the Raiders ever wanted to fix their inability to cover tight ends and running backs, the former buckeye might be available in the third or fourth rounds.
Warner has some position versatility, as has been the trend with BYU linebackers in recent years. He is definitely faster and more agile than former first round pick Kyle Van Noy, but without the pass rushing skills. His ball skills, instincts, and aggressive style in the run game are more to speak of than most of the Raiders current reserve linebackers. Warner would bring relief to a defense that will have lots of blitzing sub packages and need to cover the flats.
Warner can do what most linebackers in recent years failed to, which is covering the middle of the field. Physicality might be an issue at times but Warner would be a solid backup, special teams player and natural outside linebacker behind former Bengal & Viking Emmanuel Lemur. Unless there is a massive run on linebackers, Warner could slide to the fourth round.
The winner of the Combine and America’s heart, Griffin is a freak athlete with or without a left hand. 4.38 speed is incredibly effective when used on a guy who was a great pass rusher & high motor player. If he is playing behind Mack, he can hold his own in coverage & his pedigree alone allows for trust on special teams. All it takes is a team willing to take a chance on Griffin. He could go anywhere from the third to seventh round.
Another coverage linebacker that can contribute on special teams in a big way. O’Daniel could go from the fourth to sixth round. He could develop into a spot starter but nonetheless, a solid backup.
What Avery may lack in agility, he more than makes up for in his straight-line speed & pass rush ability. A 4.59 40 is nothing to scoff at & his versatility would be beneficial in sub packages where & A-gap blitzes. He is on the shorter side of what Guenther has traditionally had at middle linebacker but a baller nonetheless. Oakland could have a shot between the fourth & sixth rounds.