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Early on in the draft cycle, linebacker was a popular pick for the Raiders in the first round. But after free agency, that position doesn’t look quite as dire for Las Vegas.
The team restructured the contracts of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski and re-signed veteran Nicholas Morrow. With the Raiders likely to be in their nickel package frequently, the Raiders really don’t need to invest more assets into that part of their defense. However, we are still seeing some mock drafts connect linebackers to the Raiders in the first round.
The latest mock to do so is from Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network. At pick No. 17, he gave the Raiders linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who was a frequent pick in January and February mocks. Here is his thought process behind the pick:
“New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley requires a lot of speed, athleticism and coverability from his linebackers. Owusu-Koramoah gives you plenty of each. With Las Vegas signing Yannick Ngakoue to pair up with Maxx Crosby, I’m not as concerned about the Raiders’ edge-rush woes as I was before free agency.”
With the Raiders having significant holes at right tackle, defensive tackle and free safety, this pick feels like a bit of a luxury. But if the team believes the need to add more speed and “JOK” can do more than just be an off-the-ball linebacker, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the team went in this direction.
Still, expect the Raiders to ignore linebacker in the first round of the draft and go offensive line instead. Linebacker depth remains an issue, but the team can wait on the second and third day of the draft to fill that spot.