Position group analysis: Linebackers


Seventh in a series analyzing Raiders position groups as the combine ends and free agency begins Thursday at 9 p.m.

Starters: WLB Trevor Scott, MLB Kirk Morrison, SLB Thomas Howard. Backups: Jon Alston, Ricky Brown, Isaiah Ekejiuba, David Nixon, Slade Norris, Sam Williams.

Review: Morrison led the Raiders in tackles for the fifth straight season with 133 and Howard was third with 79. But the bottom line is the Raiders ranked 29th in run defense, an area which they’ve been deficient since 2003. Alston failed to complete the season because of concussion issues, while Brown and Ekejiuba, the latter exclusively a special teams player, also battled injuries.

Scott made a successful switch from end to weak side linebacker, learning on the fly, prompting the shift of Howard to the strong side, where he lacks size and strength. Norris, a fourth-round draft pick, failed to make the 53-man roster out of training camp and was promoted after Nixon, who was an undrafted free agent. Neither player made much of an impression. Even if Williams is not back initially, he usually makes his way back on to the roster as a special teamer. He’s this decade’s version of Dan Land.

Contract status: Morrison, Howard, Brown and Alston are all restricted free agents awaiting tenders. Ekejiuba is in the second year of a three-year contract and is scheduled to make more than $1.8 million in salary.

What’s next: Probably the most interesting area on the team in terms of free agency. Do the Raiders tender Morrison and Howard at second- or first-round levels, thereby guaranteeing their return? Or will they decide they’re simply not stout enough against the run and look to discard one or the other and get more physical up front.

Could the Raiders move Morrison aside and take Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain at No. 8 overall? History says no. Other than Napoleon Harris (No. 23 overall in 2002) and Rob Fredrickson (No. 22 overall in 1994) the Raiders don’t take linebackers in the first round, let alone at No. 8. They simply don’t believe in paying huge money to a player who may end up being a part-time player, coming off the field in nickel and dime defenses.

Scott’s conversion to linebacker was extremely encouraging.

Scott finished with seven sacks, can still put his hand down in passing situations, and is a far more dangerous blitzer at linebacker than anyone else on the roster. Ekejiuba got the richest contract awarded to a pure special teamer (who doesn’t kick or return kicks) and now the Raiders must determine in Year 2 if he was worth it, considering his troublesome shoulder.

Norris, taken two picks after Louis Murphy at No. 126 overall, will need to to make a big jump this year to even begin justifying the fourth-round pick spent on him last year out of Oregon State.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • # RaiderD Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Now, if AL tries to fire hanson hes gonna get sued for wrongful termination right?
    Ha…you wish.

    As we speak Al is planting Sweet N Low packets in Randy’s belongings….

  • Rich,


    That clicking noise has been there for a few years now. I’m Arab/ American.

  • hellsbells

    Evans guard NO. Should have to overpay but could be worth it. Rated out best run-blocker on squad. Also picked up his pass protection. Also see about J. Brown LT NO. They won the superbowl without him

  • My wife likes to bring up that Heidi Montag (sp?) woman occasionally. I have no fukin clue who she is, so I just space out and nod at what I believe to be appropriate times during her story. From what I did gather is that she is married to the dude that blew the SB for the Colts…hank Baskett.

    That made me laugh during the SB.

  • jhill

    Oh..and that “clicking” on the phone?
    Just a bad connection



    Yeah O, and never mind those extra few seconds it takes you internet to connect as well.

  • Norco Bob

    Ya ok Dakota,..we believe you. lol

  • So Bruce Campbell had a great combine but his play on the field doesn’t live up to the hype.

    Sounds like a perfect Al pick.

  • DMAC

    Morning Nation

  • RaiderD

    rainy morning…

  • jhill

    So Bob, you like Miley Cirus too?

    I have to say this boards taste in women makes me serious question your abilty to judge talent.

  • jhill

    Mayock and the “made for TV draftniks”, lol, are not ragging on Campbell the way they did DHB. He seems to be a …

    hold on, Giada serving lunch.

  • Ya bobbo…no MTV rejects.
    I hate pretending I watch that crappola and know who you’re talking about.
    I’d rather pretend I’m indifferent and that she’s old news.

  • What are you guys talking about? You are crazy. I pay taxes & smoke weed!

  • Norco Bob

    Mileys hot…dont think shes 18 yet though. word.

  • Bruce Campbell…300+ lbs and ripped?

    Has performance enhancing drugs written all over him.

    Tony Mandarich Jr.

  • # Raider O Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 am

    What are you guys talking about?
    You are crazy.
    I pay taxes & smoke weed!
    I can vouch for the last two.
    No idea on the first one.

  • jhill


    Did O smoke you out while you prepared his tax return?

  • I can remember reading how the Niners tackle, Bubba Paris, got some hefty fines from Bill Walsh because he was over 300 lbs. That it was unhealthy and dangerous to be packing that much weight while exerting yourself…and he was on a regiment that got him and kept him below 300.

    Man…how times have changed.

  • I don’t lie! I’m a car salesman. lol

  • RaiderRockstar

    trade the walrus for Bubba Paris!

  • Jhill…lol…guess I should have said ‘I have it in good standing on the latter two”

    I mean…doesn’t everyone pay taxes?
    And those who don’t/haven’t smoked weed? *wink*..of COURSE you don’t/haven’t 😉

    I feel, if necessary, that Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale” suffices..if need be. 🙂

  • RaiderRockstar

    LOL. probably even a USED car salesman …

    “hey come test drive this clunker. it has YOU PEOPLE written all over it!”

  • RaiderRockstar

    trade Prez BO for Clinton’s cigar!

  • RaiderO,

    Don’t worry, ITAC is keeping a close eye on you. Your backstop isn’t fooling anyone. Brick agents are following your every move. Hunting packs follow your family. Every time you leave your house, which isn’t very often, you need to get out more, they have trigger agents calling in your every move. The blowback isn’t coming soon, but when it does it will be a thing of beauty!

  • Rich,

    It was a joke. stereotype about Arabs not paying taxes.

  • jhill

    Every time you leave your house, which isn’t very often, you need to get out more,



    He’s a student who gets high, man!

    I think we need some new agents on the job.

  • RR,

    LMAO I sold USED & New.


    Tell your agency to leave me alone. I study a lot, and I like being around my family. lol

  • Taylor Mays and Bruce Cambell = Combine fools gold.

    I am sure we will pick one of them…

  • hellsbells

    NFL network said you could get a deal in the form of Robinson CB from Houston. Guess he will not command top dollar.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Taylor Mays and Bruce Cambell = Combine fools gold.

    I am sure we will pick one of them…


    if we cut or trade Mike Huff prior to the draft you’ll know who Al Davis is targeting at #8 …

    if we let Barnes, Green & Walker go in FA and/or cut Pears and keep Huff Daddy that’ll be a big signal as well …

  • RaiderRockstar

    HB: Adam Schefter said Dunta Robinson will get at least 10 million per season on NFL Live the other day.

    he’s the #1 CB on the market.

    Leigh Bodden is second best and he’s not even that great imo

    after them it’s all washed up vets or young scrubs

  • Trade DMAC for Suckeye season tix! Then burn em!

  • RaiderRockstar

    they said there aren’t many teams that AREN’T looking for CB help, so there could be a potential bidding war

    not something I’d like to get involved in!

  • Norco Bob

    By the way, I got an email read today on the air of a very popular sports talk show. Hey now. 🙂

  • RaiderRockstar


    trade DMAC for Maurice Clarett?

  • Hank Baskett of the Colts is married to Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Kendra from the Girls Next Door. Not only did he drop the pass but he got Hugh’s 2nds.

  • RaiderRockstar

    how many Buckeyes will get drafted?

    Kurt Coleman, Anderson Russell, Ray Small, Chimdi Chekwa, Aaron Pettrey & Thaddeus Gibson ???

  • Bruce Campbell = Mike Mamula = Vernon Gholston

  • Leave it to Mich Preppie fans to find new ways for wasting money.

    Damn you Mich!

  • Norco Bob

    trade entire draft for rams top pick,..draft suh, sign him a month before draft…then dont send any raider reps to NY for draft…word.

  • RaiderRockstar

    trade entire draft for rams top pick,..draft suh, sign him a month before draft…then dont send any raider reps to NY for draft


    we’d still show up to trade 2011’s 2nd rounder for Jacoby Ford!

  • RaiderRockstar

    O: I don’t know how many Jimmy Carter worshippers are preppies …

    probably not many!

  • RaiderRockstar

    lunch! BBL

  • Suh is the best player in this draft, and I think we should do everything we can to trade up for him.
    6’4 310, runs well, strong, and can help our DL for the next 10 years.
    Suh, Seymour, Matt S, and Ellis make a good Dline. Add a LB like Spikes in the 2nd and that will make us a great Defense.

  • Or,

    We can draft OT in the 1st, draft DT Lamarr Houston in the 2nd, and then trade a 3rd and 5th to move up to the 2nd again to draft ILB B Spikes.

    We need an OT, DT, and a MLB.
    I you know you don’t agree on the MLB RR, but I think we should resign Kirk as a SLB and tender & trade TH. Kirk can to a lot better as a SLB like his rookie season.

  • DMAC

    Your the Raider GM. Which one these O’linemen do you select????

  • I pick the 6th choice why?

  • DMAC


  • RaiderRockstar

    new post!