Misfits No More: Raiders Getting Production From Young Linebacker Corps

Just weeks ago, it looked like the Raiders were in serious trouble at linebacker. With no proven options on the roster, it looked like Raiders general manager had finally slow played his options to a dead end.

A lot has changed in the three weeks since – at least from the outside looking in.

Linebackers now feel like the least of the Raiders defensive concerns.

Cory James has been one of the more consistent players on the defensive roster and is tied for the team lead in tackles (23) with Karl Joseph.

James doesn’t come off the field and has been very good defending the run. He also hasn’t been a liability in coverage – an area he struggled a season ago.

On Sunday night against the Redskins, James stood out with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.

Although he’s only on the field in running situations, rookie inside linebacker Marquel Lee has also been a pleasant surprise. Lee has an even higher Pro Football Focus grade against the run (82.1) than James (79.2) albeit in a little less than a third of the snaps.

Lee is replaced on passing downs by another rookie, Nicholas Morrow, who has been arguably the most surprising addition to the Raiders linebacker group.

It was a 3rd-and-2 redzone tackle in week one that started the hype around Morrow and the coaches haven’t looked back.

A former Division III standout, Morrow has graded well in coverage (82.3) and has consistently shown above average instincts for a rookie. His size (6’0, 224 lbs.) hasn’t proven to be an issue and Morrow has seen an increase in snaps every week.

Without question, the Raiders linebacker group carries the least amount of investment of any position group on the Raiders roster. James, Lee, and Morrow are all on rookie contracts and none were drafted before the 5th round (Morrow wasn’t drafted at all). Still, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is getting a return on his linebackers as good, or better, than almost every other defensive position group.

Even in the Raiders’ worst defensive effort of the season, the three-headed monster of James, Lee, and Morrow held up with a respectable game against the Redskins.

Not bad for band of misfits very few were taking seriously at this time a month ago.

twitter: @raidersbeat


3 thoughts on “Misfits No More: Raiders Getting Production From Young Linebacker Corps

  1. Hats off to Reggie. He knew our primary problem was DB and not LB. Hope the rookies take over quickly.

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