Heading into training camp, it’s worth taking a look at a few IDP position battles that have yet to be resolved. There is potential production available on the waiver wire depending on who wins each role. And knowing who’s competing in each battle will give you a leg-up when injuries inevitably occur.
Oakland Raiders LBs
The average age of the Raiders roster has gone up dramatically since Head Coach Jon Gruden took over. If they win any games, they’re going to dump prune juice on the head coach rather than Gatorade. They need to play all noon games because they will have plans for early bird dinner. These guys are so old, half of them used to play with leather helmets.
Last season, Oakland had a revolving door at LB, until they picked up Navarro Bowman. This year, as they switch to a more traditional 4-3 under former Bengals DC, Paul Guenther, they’ll likely line up with Bruce Irvin at SAM, Derrick Johnson at MIKE and Tahir Whitehead at WILL. After not resigning the 30-year-old Bowman, their LB corps has actually gotten older.
DJ looked done last season with KC. He started the year playing every down, but the Chiefs thought better of it and started to scale him back as the season wore on. KC didn’t even make him an offer to keep him, regardless of his 12-year career spent entirely in KC.
Whitehead seems like Paul Worrilow 2.0. He’s not the most talented LB, but he’s able to produce when he’s on the field until the team decides to find someone better. It’s interesting that Detroit, with more holes than LBs on that depth chart, decided to let Whitehead walk.
Finally, Irvin has been a Raider for two seasons now after starting his career in Seattle. Irvin played at least 90% of the snaps in seven games last season, granted, in a different scheme under a different DC. He ended with 58 total tackles and 8.0 sacks.
The depth chart behind those three consists of former UDFA and part-time player Nicholas Morrow, former 5th Rounder Marquel Lee who had a little hype train during the preseason last year, and former Bengal Emmanuel Lamur. Lamur spent the last two seasons in the Twin Cities, where he totaled 118 defensive snaps. So it’ll likely be DJ, Whitehead, and Irvin on the field the most.
The question becomes who will be on the field enough to be productive. It seems like Gruden just wants the oldest player possible, which give the advantage to DJ, but he seemed washed up last season, leaving Whitehead as the best short-term option for production.
Cut to Gruden, “Get me Mike Singletary’s number. That guy can play!”
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