One of the big reasons the Raiders were able to survive on defense last season was due to the play of their linebackers. Denzel Perryman had a Pro Bowl season, finishing the season with 154 tackles in 15 games.
They also got good production from K.J. Wright and Divine Deablo as the season went on. For the first time in several years, they had depth at the position and they had someone playing at a Pro Bowl level.
But how does the unit rank compared to the rest of the NFL heading into the 2022 season? Not as high as they might hope.
In a recent article by Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus, he ranked all 32 linebacker corps heading into the season. The Raiders did not finish particularly high, coming in at No. 23. Here is what he had to say about the unit heading the year:
“Las Vegas brings in Jayon Brown from the Titans to play alongside Denzel Perryman. Brown has seen his play taper off after a really nice sophomore campaign in 2018 in which he posted an 81.2 grade. He has not graded above 70.0 since. Divine Deablo had some interesting moments as a rookie in 2021 and is worth keeping an eye on.”
If Perryman can continue to play as well as he did last season for the Raiders, they will be just fine. The key will be finding a solid complement to him. The Raiders are hopeful that Deablo can make a leap in Year 2, but he has missed most of the offseason with an undisclosed injury. If he’s not ready, look for Brown to play a majority of the snaps next to Perryman.
While this unit might not be a top-10 group in the NFL, it is significantly improved over what they’ve had in some of the past few seasons. This linebacker corps should outperform their No. 23 ranking by quite a bit in 2022.