Raiders 53-man roster projection 1.0: Defense

Marquel Lee 2

Linebackers (5): Marquel Lee, Corey James, Neiron Ball, Jelani Jenkins, Ben Heeney

The linebacker position is one laden with questions, some that strike fear into Raider Nation’s hearts for good reason.

With the hole at interior linebacker still present, training camp should feature a wide-open competition for a starting spot, and it should not surprise anyone if McKenzie ultimately caves and re-signs MLB Perry Riley Jr. if things don’t progress as anticipated.

Currently, it is expected that Raiders rookie linebacker Marquel Lee will take the starting position with second-year linebacker Cory James alongside him.

James played well at times last season, but is small and struggles in the run game. Meanwhile, Raiders third-year linebacker Neiron Ball showed flashes in coverage two seasons ago, but hasn’t been returned since then due to a knee injury.

McKenzie did snare former Miami Dolphins interior linebacker Jelani Jenkins this offseason, however, Jenkins posted the worst grade at his position for all qualifying players in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.

Finally, Oakland will be returning middle linebacker Ben Heeney, who should prove too small and slow to make a realistic impact once again in 2017 — but serve as a functional situational linebacker when needed.


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