Del Rio: Raiders haven't ‘adequately addressed' middle linebacker spot


The Raiders needed linebacker help entering the NFL Draft, especially in the middle. That hasn’t changed, even after taking Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee in the fifth round.

The Raiders took a cornerback, a safety and a defensive tackle in the first three rounds, supplementing talent-needy position groups.

A void remains in the eye of the storm. General manager Reggie McKenzie said before the draft he’d like to add a couple inside linebackers to the roster. Lee is one. Head coach Jack Del Rio believes another should be coming down the line. 

McKenzie wants to evaluate those currently on the team before looking for outside help. Del Rio considers it imperative the Raiders add more talent to an inexperienced, largely unheralded group.

“I don’t know that we’ve adequately addressed our middle linebacker position, to be honest,” Del Rio said Thursday afternoon on NFL Network. “I think we have some work to do there. The rest of our roster is pretty well situated, but we’ll be looking for a linebacker and we’ll continue to look, whether it’s the waiver wire, trades or available guys out there, veterans on the street. We’ll continue to look.

“The guys that are here, we’re going to develop and grow and hope we can take them to a higher level.”

McKenzie said the door isn’t completely closed on Perry Riley, who started 11 games at middle linebacker for the Raiders last season and remains on the open market.

Free agent signing Jelani Jenkins is viewed more as a weakside linebacker.

Lee, second-year pro Cory James, and third-year man Ben Heeney are currently in the mix to play at middle linebacker. The rookie is untested at the NFL level, and the other options need more consistency and time to develop.

Adding another player would certainly help the Raiders, who have struggled to find answers at that position in free agency or with later-round picks in the NFL Draft.

Contact Us