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2023 Position Breakdown: Linebackers

Position Breakdown_2023_LB

Entering 2023 Training Camp, will preview every position group and evaluate the players who will potentially make up the 53-man roster. Here's a look at a young, up-and-coming linebacking unit.

The linebacking corps is the youngest overall position group on the roster, with an average age of a bit over 24 years old.

Of the new additions, the oldest and most experienced of the bunch is Robert Spillane, who's in line to play a pivotal role in the Raiders defense. Spillane signed with the Silver and Black this offseason after spending four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He began to come into his own last season, reaching career-highs in games played (16), total tackles (79) and pass deflections (four). He also finished with a career-best 77.3 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus, with his skill set hopefully filling a void after Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman signed with the Texans during free agency.

"Every year is a new year, new guys, new system," Spillane said of going into Training Camp as a Raider. "I think we're really coming together well, and as long as we bring that blue collar toughness with us on Sundays, we should be good. Communication is at a high, working together is at a high, but when we get the pads on, that's when the physicality comes in."

Two rookie linebackers also join the room in sixth-round pick Amari Burney and UDFA Drake Thomas. Burney, who is a cousin of cornerback Brandon Facyson, was a safety-to-linebacker convert at the University of Florida. He enjoyed a successful final collegiate season at his new position with 79 total tackles, four sacks, four pass deflections and two interceptions. Thomas was a standout linebacker at NC State as a two-time All-ACC selection. The former Wolfpack team captain totaled 292 tackles (136 solo), 46 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, four interceptions and eight pass deflections in his four-year collegiate career.

Kana'i Mauga signed with the Raiders in January on a Reserve/Future contract, having spent last season on the Denver Broncos practice squad. Before signing with the Broncos as a UDFA, the Hawaii native was a starting linebacker at USC, compiling 205 total tackles, five sacks, three interceptions and six passes deflections in his career as a Trojan.

Divine Deablo seems due for a breakout season as much as anyone on this team.

The strong safety at Virginia Tech found himself in new waters as a linebacker after being selected as the Silver and Black's third-round draft pick in 2021. He started five regular seasons game plus a playoff game his rookie season and continued to improve in his sophomore campaign. He was leading the team in total tackles (74) before suffering a season-ending injury Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's rehabbed hard this offseason, picking up close to ten pounds in muscle mass while mentally preparing himself to become a leader of the defense.

"On the field-wise, I just studied all the great linebackers out there," Deablo said during minicamp. "Fred Warner, DP - Denzel Perryman that was here last year - [Shaquille] Leonard from the Colts, just a lot of guys. I studied them on the field. Off the field, I just focused on recovery. I've had a few injuries and I really focused on not being hurt anymore."

Luke Masterson and Darien Butler will compete for reps in Training Camp after both making the initial 53-man roster in 2022 as UDFAs. Masterson stepped up and started seven games, compiling 59 solo tackles and four tackles for loss. Butler found a solid role for himself on special teams, with 11 total tackles in 15 games played.

Curtis Bolton also returns to resume his role as a veteran presence in the position group. After spending time on the practice squads for the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, he played a career-high 10 games for the Raiders in 2022.

View photos of the Las Vegas Raiders linebackers heading into 2023 Training Camp.

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