Oakland Raiders vs. AFC West: Linebackers

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Nov 30, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams tight end Cory Harkey (46) is tackled into the end zone by Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Sio Moore (55) for a four yard touchdown during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With some young, athletic playmakers, the Oakland Raiders‘ linebackers group was supposed to be one of the defense’s biggest strengths. An injury to middle linebacker Nick Roach though – one that ended his season before it ever started – brought the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Because of a severe lack of depth, Miles Burris was forced into the middle. And he performed about as well as you’d expect somebody unfamiliar with the position to perform – in other words, not well. And the defense as a whole suffered for it.

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It’s not Burris’ fault, he just wasn’t capable of playing the part of middle linebacker. It didn’t play to his strengths. But the lack of viable candidates to fill that role after Roach went down. Oakland’s ability to stop the run was severely compromised, and Burris – not used to being the defense’s QB – was ill-equipped to put his squad in positions to be successful.

All in all, Oakland’s linebackers group – and by extension, the defense as a whole – had a very rough year. 2015 promises to be different though, as the Raiders have extensively retooled their linebackers group, adding starting level talent as well as depth.

But how do they stack up against their AFC West rivals?

In this series of articles, we’re breaking down how Oakland’s various position groups compare with their division foes. We’ve already looked at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, and cornerbacks.

In this article, we’ll examine Oakland’s linebackers group and see how they stack up in a division absolutely loaded with excellent linebackers.

Next: San Diego Chargers