Questions arose at the beginning of the season of how the Las Vegas Raiders defense would perform, and what seemed to be the weakness ended up carrying the team through the end.
Based on team needs and pre-free-agency signings the Raiders can still provide valuable help defensively outside the first round in this year’s NFL Draft.
This year’s draft appears to have a good deal of defensive players who might slip outside the first round based on other team needs, and one of those players is a semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi awards, Alabama’s inside linebacker Christian Harris.
The NFL Draft Bible at the start of the season had this to say about Harris: "Athletically gifted linebacker with explosiveness and length. Harris is a modern-day player able to run cover and blitz. He has the physical traits and leadership qualities coveted. As a tackler, he is not reliable and in space, he lacks desired instincts to be a difference-maker. Harris projects as a future starting inside linebacker, ideally at will to take advantage of his movement skills. He has the tools to be special in the future."
Harris will take a shot at the next level, despite having a slight drop in production this season.
Listed as the No. 3 ranked inside linebacker on ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.'s 2022 NFL Draft rankings, the three-year starter for the Crimson Tide finished the 2021 season with 79 tackles, 12.5 tackles for losses, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
"Being a student-athlete at the University of Alabama has molded me not only as a football player, but as a man able to succeed in whatever I set out to accomplish," Harris said in a statement.
The Raiders didn’t seem to blitz much, but with a player like Harris, there’s no reason why they shouldn't send him to stop players at the line of scrimmage.
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