Raiders Top Five Opponents by Position: Inside Linebackers
As we look into the top five opponents at every position the Raiders will face in 2020, we can't wait and wonder who are the top five middle linebackers the Raiders will face in 2020.
One thing to look at, all five teams in this list primarily use the 3-4 defense (three defensive lineman and four linebackers).
The Raiders will see a lot of linebackers this season.
Spoiler Alert, one player who was initially named on the top five list, has been removed.
Yes, Dont'a Hightower of the New England Patriots is opting out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 precautions. Teammate Patrick Chung will also opt-out, which makes the Patriots defense more vulnerable this season.
Let's hope the Raiders take advantage of it in Week 3.
So our updated top five middle linebacker looks like this:
At No. 5 is last year's first-round pick (fifth overall) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Devin White. White came in to replace Kwon Alexander's shoes in the middle of the field, and he did. In 2019, White recorded 68 solo tackles, was the second-leading tackler on the team, and added one interception, three forced fumbles and three sacks as a rookie. His potential is high, and his expectations for year two are up there too. With a season under his belt, he will settle down and learn from his rookie mistakes. The Bucs will travel to Sin City in Week 7, bringing new quarterback Tom Brady with them.
At No. 4 is Tremaine Edmunds of the Buffalo Bills. Edmunds was the Bills' leading tackler in 2019 with 86 solo tackles and is only on the rise. He is entering his third year in the NFL and the former first-round pick is developing into an all-around linebacker. His athleticism can match him up with anyone on the field and at 6-foot-5, he can match up physically against any pass catcher, even a tight end. His coverage skills are excellent and last year he improved in his run defense. Watch out for him as the Bills visit the Raiders in Week 4.
At No. 3 we have C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets. Mosley spent five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before signing with the Jets before the 2019 season. And what he did with the Ravens was beyond remarkable, with flashes of Ray Lewis as he lined up in the middle of the field. In 2019, Mosley was able to play only two games, as he was sidelined for most of the season because of a groin injury. In June, Mosley said he was cleared for all physical activities, and it should be good to go for training camp. Last year's meeting with the Jets did not go well, and the Raiders will have a chance to get revenge in Week 13 as they head back to New York, or can I say New Jersey?
At No. 2 Deion Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. In 2019, it marked the return of an injured Jones. A solid year back with the Falcons that started 1-7 before their bye week, but picked up right after. Jones finished the season with 68 tackles and one interception. As the season went on, Jones was returning to form. Expect Jones to be the wrecking machine he had been in 2017. The Raiders will travel to Atlanta in Week 12.
At the top of the list of the best middle linebackers the Raiders will match up against this season is Tampa Bays' Lavonte David. He was recently named No. 100 on the top 100 players in the NFL as voted on by the players. David has been the Bucs leading tackler for the last three years, and it seems like he is not stopping anytime soon. A tackling machine is coming in from the middle of the field. In 2019, David recorded 85 solo tackles, one interception, and three forced fumbles. At the end of the season, PFF had him ranked as the best coverage linebacker and the fourth-best defensive graded linebacker in the NFL. The Raiders will see two great linebackers when the Bucs visit the Silver and Balck in Las Vegas in Week 7.
For the first time on our lists, no AFC West player showed up on the Raiders list.
They might not be in our top five rated middle linebackers, but they are a group to watch out for.
The absence of Hightower should ease the Patriots defense a bit, and aside from the Bucs match up in week 7, the Raiders look solid against middle linebackers this season.
Another notable linebacker who missed the list and should be back from injury is Avery Williamson of the Jets, who sustained a season-ending injury by tearing his ACL during the preseason last year.
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