There probably wasn’t a Las Vegas Raiders fan around who wasn’t excited when the news dropped that the team was signing Cory Littleton. The team has been very bad at linebacker for years and he was supposed to come in and be the antidote. In fact, Bleacher Report named it as the fifth-best move of free agency.
Several months later and it now looks like one of the worst moves of free agency. According to Pro Football Focus, Littleton has allowed 388 yards in coverage this season, which is the third-most in the NFL. Considering he was supposed to excel in coverage, this a very concerning.
Regardless of how bad he’s played, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther still believes he’s getting better.
“He’s come in as a new player, in a new system after playing in the same system pretty much his whole career,” Guenther said Thursday. “Each and every week he’s gotten better. He’s done a better job of understanding what we’re asking him to do each and every week.”
While Guenther seems to think Littleton is getting better, it really hasn’t looked that way. He was a Pro Bowl-level player in Los Angeles for years. He now looks like he should be a backup. It’s one of the most confusing things to see in the NFL this year. Littleton clearly does have talent but we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll actually be a fit with the Raiders.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Littleton out for Week 10
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they won’t get a chance to see Littleton show more improvements against the Denver Broncos. The team announced that they’ve placed him on the COVID-19 list and he won’t be playing on Sunday. It’s unclear if he tested positive for the virus or he just came into contact with someone who did.
While Littleton hasn’t had a strong season, it’s still going to be a blow for him not to be on the field. As crazy as it might sound, he’s probably still one of the better coverage linebackers for the Raiders. Hopefully, he’ll be back in time for the Week 11 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Time for Javin White?
Littleton being out could open up the door for undrafted rookie Javin White to see his first action since Week 2. On the surface, it’s hard not to see the similarities between White and Littleton. Both men were undrafted out of college and are supposed to excel in pass coverage. However, White is a bit smaller than Littleton. He played a lot of safety in college and still needs to gain some weight to be an effective NFL linebacker.
That said, it could be worth a shot for the Raiders to give him a few snaps. Raekwon McMillan clearly lost the trust of the team after the loss to the New England Patriots. He’d be likely to see more snaps with Littleton out but the Raiders could also let White see those snaps. He’s currently on the practice squad but can be promoted for the game. Las Vegas would be wise to give him a chance and see what they have in him.