Raiders position-by-position breakdown: Linebackers

Raiders position-by-position breakdown: Linebackers
July 21, 2013, 11:15 am

The Raiders were impressed by rookie Sio Moore (55) during the offseason program. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp. The full squad will report on July 24, with the first practice day scheduled for July 26. Today, Scott focuses on the linebackers.

Who they have: Kaluka Maiava, Kevin Burnett, Nick Roach, Sio Moore, Miles Burris, Travis Goethel, Kaelin Burnett, Billy Boyko, Keenan Clayton.

Who they lost: Rolando McClain, Phillip Wheeler, Aaron Curry, Omar Gaither, Carl Ihenacho

Looking back: The Raiders linebacker corps was inconsistent at best. McClain regressed in 2012, clearly struggling in pass coverage. He was better against the run, although he looked slow escaping blocks and was responsible for a few big gains. That was evident to the coaching staff, which asked him to play fewer snaps as the season went on. Burris played more than expected in his rookie season, and his lack of experience was exposed too often during the season’s second half. Wheeler was a bright spot in this group despite playing 1,049 snaps. He led the team with 109 tackles, had three sacks and forced two fumbles. The Curry experiment failed and Gaither never took ownership of the middle linebacker spot in four starts.

Overall outlook: The Raiders should have new starters at every position after the they cut McClain and let Wheeler leave for Miami as a free agent. They brought in Roach from Chicago to man the middle, veteran Kevin Burnett from Miami to play the weak side and Maiava from Cleveland to play the strong side. Maiava is serviceable, without great weaknesses. Kevin Burnett is a solid all around, and excels in pass coverage. Coach Dennis Allen lauded Roach's ability to play middle linebacker and be the defensive signal caller. Burris and Moore should be first off the bench.

Camp competition: The Raiders liked what they saw out of Moore during the offseason program. The third-round draft pick out of UConn played some with the first team during minicamp and will compete to maximize his playing time. It might be tough to crack the starting lineup in Week 1, but continued progress might force coaches to reconsider as the season moves along. He can play both outside linebacker positions well, but should narrow his focus as coaches figure what he does best. Goethel isn’t in the mix yet. It’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready to training camp after having major knee surgery last season.