One of the biggest question marks going into the season for the Raiders is the linebacker position. Denzel Perryman left in free agency and the team is forced to rely on some young players stepping up.
But just how bad/unproven is the unit going into the season? And do they really have the worst linebacker corps in the league?
In a recent article by Pro Football Focus, they ranked all 32 linebacker units heading into the 2023 NFL season. Not surprisingly, the Raiders finished low on the list, coming in at No. 30. Here is what the site had to say about the group going into the season:
The Raiders finished 2022 with the third-lowest graded linebacking corps in the NFL and can be reasonably expected to do so again in 2023. Denzel Perryman was easily the highest-graded player in a group that dealt with injuries and issues in coverage all season long. The Raiders will not feature a single linebacker who played at least 600 snaps last season.
Likely to start are incumbent Divine Deablo and ex-Steeler Robert Spillane. Deablo finished 2022 with a 50.7 coverage grade and didn’t force a single incompletion. Spillane’s 39.5 mark was bottom-10 at the position last season.
The Raiders are really banking on Deablo making a leap in Year 3 as he is the only linebacker on the roster with the size and speed to be an above-average player in the NFL. He will be wearing the green-dot helmet as he is expected to be one of the leaders on defense.
But outside of Deablo, there just isn’t a lot of upside and athleticism at the position. Spillane is more of a rotational linebacker type with some power and toughness, but they need Deablo to become an above-average starter if they want to avoid having one of the worst linebacker rooms in the league this season.