2020 Draft: Final Linebacker Rankings

Unlike the cornerback spot, the Raiders swung and hit big during free agency, landing two immediate starters (and certainly one impact starter in Cory Littleton).

There’s a discussion about the overall impact that the linebacker position has on today’s game, and how they should be valued in general. But in a division with strong tight end play, and for a team like the Raiders that has been devoid of talent at the second-level for so long, some upgrades are certainly welcomed.

As a result of their offseason additions, Jon Gruden’s team may not need to invest Day 1 draft capital into the position. However, I think there’s an easy argument to be made that a linebacker or two will be sitting on the board at 19 overall, and may just be the best overall players available. Below is how I view the top-10 players in the class as a whole:

Intriguing, athletic players dot the top-10 list. The game is changing, and these plus-athletes fit the mold and should transition.

Isaiah Simmons, much like the case with top cornerback prospect Jeff Okudah, is a player the Raiders would have the trade-up for. He’s special; Simmons isn’t quite Derwin James-level coming out of school for me, but offers similar versatility (if not even more so) and is a standout athlete in his own right. Before the dream was crushed, back in December:

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Isaiah Simmons, please, @Raiders. https://t.co/iwtnKOFeBw

Both Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray were commonly mocked players to the Raiders at 19 overall. As noted above, given the free agency spend, I’m not sure that’s a direction that Gruden and Mike Mayock look in anymore — although either player would give the Raiders a dominant group on paper (from weakness to immediate strength).

Akeem Davis-Gaither will surely be one of “my guys” this class. He’s a bit undersized (224 pounds), and I’m sure some folks will bring up his school and level of competition, but his #tape was the most fun and his impact was obvious. Dream selection in the 80’s (third-round) for the Raiders, letting him work outside with the new upgrades inside.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Selected him, and wrote a few thoughts about LB Akeem Davis-Gaither in my new mock for @RaidersBeat. He’s still a mid-round target of mine, and would completely round out this new-look Raiders’ linebacking corp. Fun player. https://t.co/BZtGczLGHH

Willie Gay Jr. was one of the Combine “winners” at the position (4.46 forty, 39.5-inch vertical, and a 136-inch broad jump). He had some off-field “issues” (NCAA violations, tutor-related; not something I’d put too much stock into). I constantly highlight these upside players in the early- or mid-rounds and Gay is no exception.

Mike Renner on Twitter

Think the player I’m most excited to see on this list is Willie Gay Jr. Only 455 snaps last year, but for a LB listed at 240, he can scoot https://t.co/2rF3PYamDy

Last one, and another one of “my guys” perhaps: Logan Wilson may get some Mountain West shade, but he can play. From NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein: “Ultra-productive three-year team captain with instincts and cover talent to find work as an every-down linebacker. His play recognition, burst and lateral agility help him play faster than his timed speed and his fundamentals as a tackler are as good as you’ll find in this draft.”

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


4 thoughts on “2020 Draft: Final Linebacker Rankings

  1. What’s wrong Ryan Lopes? I made a stinging but not vulgar criticism of Raiders management, from the top down, and you chose to pull it because it is critical of how this franchise is being run by a guy whose father was a football icon and he has shown himself to be nothing more than a football novice, with absolutely NO understanding of how a sports franchise should be run. The truth may hurt and be an indictment of the mismanagement of this franchise but don’t silence it. If the clowns in charge of this franchise are lining your pockets then so be it. This is a franchise in disarray and not allowing my stinging critique of them can’t change the truth.

  2. I say re sign Burfict on a bargain prove it deal. Also look at re signing Aldon Smith on the same kind of low cost prove it deal. Would love to see the Raiders take one of the top 3 WR and Murray in the 1st round. Simmons does not impress me . . he’s a soft version of Obi Melifonwu in my view. Raiders have the opportunity to make the LB position a strength rather than weakness . . finally!

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