Entering 2022 Training Camp, Raiders.com will preview every position group and evaluate the players who will potentially make up the 53-man roster. Now it's time to take a look at the linebacker corps.
The linebackers have an established leader and playmaker in Denzel Perryman. The former Miami Hurricane was traded to the Raiders right before 2021 Training Camp to help out a depleted and injured linebacking corps, a trade that resulted in 154 total tackles, two fumble recoveries and a Pro Bowl selection for Perryman.
"I've known him for a while obviously, maybe not on a personal level, but from afar. What he brings is not even just swag, but attitude and professionalism," linebackers coach Antonio Pierce said of Perryman during minicamp. "I'll say more importantly, leadership. When he talks, the room gets a little quieter and you want that from somebody on your defense, and you really like that from the linebacker position. Being biased a little bit, you want the heart of your team in that linebacker room. And he really carries that and obviously, he has fun doing it. I think that makes my job easier as well."
Returning next to Perryman is Divine Deablo, going into his second season. The 2021 third-round pick converted from safety to linebacker, and was a productive player once he got into the full swing of playing his new position. As a rookie, Deablo racked up 45 total tackles and played every game of the season, including a start in the wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"A guy that has a lot of talent," Pierce said of Deablo. "Obviously, transitioning from that safety position to linebacker. But there's a lot of physical traits there that I can't coach, I can't give them. The mental aspect is where we're working on and he's doing a great job of that.
"What you see is a guy that's real eager and happy, loves being around the building, loves being in the building, loves ball. I think those are all traits that you want from a linebacker, especially a young guy."
Of the newest additions to the Silver and Black, Jayon Brown might be the most underrated free agent signing the Raiders made this offseason.
Brown has been one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL since he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2017. In five seasons in Nashville, he had four interceptions and 28 pass deflections. He also had a PFF pass coverage grade of 73 or above for three straight seasons from 2018-20. The only thing that has held Brown back recently is injuries, missing a combined 13 games the past two seasons. This could be a great opportunity in the desert for Brown to get back on the right track next to Perryman and Deablo.
There's a lot of veteran experience that make up the composition of the rest of the linebacking corps. Kenny Young comes from the Denver Broncos, starting six games last season after being traded there from the Los Angeles Rams. He's also good friends with Jayon Brown, who he played alongside at UCLA. Micah Kiser has also previously played for the Rams, spending nearly three seasons there before joining the Broncos practice squad at the end of last season.
Kyler Fackrell is familiar with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who coached him with the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. In the two seasons Fackrell played under Graham, he accumulated 14.5 sacks, 76 total tackles and 19 tackles for loss.
The two UDFAs added to the roster are Luke Masterson and Darien Butler. Masteron played 43 games at Wake Forest, totaling 218 career tackles and 3.5 sacks. Butler was a standout linebacker at Arizona State, and was named team captain for three seasons with a second-team All Pac-12 selection added to his name in 2021. Pierce was also Butler's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Arizona State.
"[He's] a guy that's eager, has been through adversity his whole life," Pierce told the media about Butler during minicamp "This is nothing new – undrafted, chip on his shoulder, fiery. Eager to play, eager to learn, take every rep that he can possibly mentally and physically, giving himself a chance to hopefully make this team."
View photos of the Las Vegas Raiders linebackers heading into 2022 Training Camp.