After another year of terrible linebacker play, the Las Vegas Raiders decided they were done accepting mediocrity and spent big on Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton. Last year’s starters Tahir Whitehard and Vontaze Burfict aren’t coming back and the team can have a fresh start with young talent. While it looked like the Raiders might completely overhaul the position, they are keeping a couple of players in-house.
According to the team’s website, they have re-signed linebacker Nicholas Morrow. This comes about a month after it was revealed that they used a second-round tender on him. It was a bit of a surprise they used such a high tender on him considering he fell out of favor towards the back half of the season. He started eight games for the Raiders in 2019 and registered 73 combined tackles. Considering the team hasn’t added a third linebacker in free agency, it looks like Morrow will be the guy next to Kwiatkoski and Littleton when the Raiders have three linebackers on the field.
Jon Gruden Praised Morrow During 2019 Training Camp
The Raiders clearly see something in Morrow that hasn’t translated to success on the field. He came to the team as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and has been able to carve out a decent-sized role. He’s started 18 games in three seasons and it’s clear that Gruden likes him. At last year’s training camp, the head coach actually singled Morrow out as a guy who was impressing him.
“Morrow, to me, has stood out,” Gruden said in 2019. “Morrow is really playing well. He’s finding the ball and he is fast and I’m really impressed with Nick.”
Perhaps putting Morrow next to a couple of good veterans will help him elevate his game. He’s a decent athlete and he’s still only 25 years old. Kwiatkoski and Littleton will be the main guys making plays, but Morrow will have the chance to prove he was worth the second-round tender.
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Will Raiders Draft an LB Early?
Re-signing Morrow all but guarantees the Raiders aren’t going to draft a linebacker in the first round of the draft. The only way they take a linebacker is if Isaiah Simmons magically falls to them at number 12, but that’s a serious pipe dream.
Las Vegas was often linked to Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen. They met with them at the NFL Combine and apparently those meetings went well. However, those happened before the team signed Littleton and Kwiatkoski. The Raiders now have much bigger needs at wide receiver and defensive back. Once again, the team was able to avoid having to draft a linebacker early.
They could still look to the later rounds to find some more depth at the position. Troy Dye out of Oregon should be around in the third round. He’d be a really good depth player as he’s a strong run stopper and a tough player. If the Raiders decide they’d like to wait, there are also some interesting projects. Austin Hall out of Memphis will be available on the last day of the draft. He’s an elite athlete but needs a lot of work. Las Vegas could give him an opportunity to sit behind some talented veterans for a few years and that could be good for his development.