When analyzing the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders, you need to pay special attention to the linebackers. For the first time in years, the team apparantly starting beliving in quality depth. Unlike years past, the Raiders appear ready to embrace a complete roster, at every position.
The easy and laziest definition would be, Gruden Grinder. However, Kwaitkoski brings actual playmaking to the field. Despite not being the biggest, he will spot the ball, surfing throufh trash to make the stop. In pass defense, Kwiatkoski won’t hurt you in a limited capacity.
The anti-Malcolm Smith. Littleton excels in coverage. Not to mention, he shows a fluidity in his drops. In a division with potentially six tough tight ends to cover, Littleton’s athleticism and stride will finally give the Raiders a viable coverage threat at linebacker.
On paper, Morrow’s agility and closing speed should give the Raiders another viable playmaker. Yet, for every play he makes, there’s a slight delay or missed opportunity to secure a stop. Yet, the Raiders keep him, due to those traits that many linebackers don’t feature. Meanwhile, how much longer is his job secure? Granted, talent plays, but film doesn’t lie.
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The special teams captain. Now, Wilber can spot start and fill. Then again, if he’s seeing snaps on defense, something is rather wrong. Wilber will make the tackle, but his ability to close in space will always be a hindrance to his game.
Yet another physical special talent. However, Muse’s extensive time as a college safety stands out. Only Nicholas Morrow can boast a similar time. Muse plays downhill but doesn’t flail in space. Instead, he fills during the run and will turn and shadow in coverage. Muse gives Paul Guenther a chess piece to use, once he captures the nuance of playing NFL linebacker.
While this may seem like a throwaway signing, Emanuel could make the roster based on a few cases. First, his 32 starts would give the Raiders a veteran backup with extensive experience. Next, his size and ability to take on blocks help versus the run. Lastly, Emanuel flashed the ability to rush the passer and apply pressure.
In essence, the Las Vegas Raiders needed this upgrade. For far too long, they neglected the linebacker, preferring retreads and value, instead of actual talent. 2020 feels different.