Las Vegas Raiders: 3 positions to target in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft

Raiders (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

2. Linebacker

Considering Jon Gruden is an offensive-minded coach, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that his weakness is defense. Here are the stats to prove it — the defense ranked 24th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed in 2019, both solidly below-average ranks.

One way to improve that defense? Upgrading the linebacker position.

The 2020 NFL Draft is stacked with talented linebackers across the board, with names like Isaiah Simmons, Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, and Zack Baun, all of whom will be potentially available at both Raiders first-round selections.

Las Vegas did add Cory Littleton and his 134 combined tackles in 2019 in free agency to address the linebacker position, but he alone doesn’t address the entire problem.

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The Raiders lost leading tackler from 2019, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, in free agency to the Carolina Panthers. He led the team with 108 combined tackles.

The next best tackler was safety Erik Harris with 74 combined tackles. Allowing a member of your secondary to post the second-highest tackle count exposes the glaring hole the Raiders had in the middle of their defense in 2019.

Their next-best tackling linebacker? Nicholas Morrow with 73. That’s a significant problem.

Gruden and the Raiders have a chance to patch up the middle of the defense with elite linebacking talent available in the first round and they shouldn’t whiff on it.