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Raiders Mailbag: Linebacking corps, offensive philosophy and more offseason topics

Vince Garcia from California asks:

"How is the linebacker corps looking so far after OTAs and minicamp?"

There's only so much you can evaluate before the pads come on.

So far the presumptuous starters Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane have played well side by side, with Deablo showing his athleticism and Spillane always instinctually near the ball. The two had their fair share of batted balls during minicamp practices.

One linebacker that has stood out is Luke Masterson, seemingly leveling up his play as he heads into his third season. The UDFA from Wake Forest has only missed one game in his NFL career, but has been primarily used on special teams. If he keeps making strides in Training Camp, he could be featured heavily in the rotation this season.

Another linebacker to keep an eye on is 2024 fifth-round pick Tommy Eichenberg from Ohio State. Like Spillane, his feel for the game is impressive and will only continue to grow under the tutelage of the other veterans in the room.

Bob L. from California asks:

"Which 12-personnel alignment do you believe will give opposing defenses the most challenges: Tight, Spread, or Bunch?"

Great question Bob, and there's actually more than one answer.

From what we've seen of Luke Getsy's scheme in Chicago, speed and agility are a priority. The faster his players can get off the line the scrimmage, the better. With the addition of Brock Bowers, more 12-personnel packages could be introduced within the offense to capitalize on the talents of Bowers and Michael Mayer.

In running situations, it would be wise to run bunch formation, especially with the flexibility of Thayer Munford Jr. at jumbo tight end. However, in my personal opinion, the Raiders could thrive within a spread offense. Mayer and Bowers were dominant pass catchers in college and could make life difficult for opposing linebackers in coverage. Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah both thrive as pass catchers out the backfield as well, a threat that helps fuel that offensive scheme.

And the icing on the cake ā€“ Davante Adams became a household name with the Green Bay Packers in a spread offense, spending seven seasons with Getsy in that particular scheme.

"Ninety percent of these calls are coming through and I know what to do right away without even getting in my book for real," Adams said during minicamp. "It's a learning process for everybody getting comfortable with it. It was the same thing that happened with the last offense when were here, trying to just figure out how things change on motions, getting lined up, it's different formations. ... When I'm watching tape now, we'll watch the practice when we get back in there and I'm looking at it and I'm not just looking at myself watching my route, I'm more looking at everybody else to figure out a way to help them get better and help their process a little bit more."

Jeff Turkel from New York asks:

"Chris Smith and Byron Young saw little playing time last year. What does the coaching staff project from them this season?"

It will be interesting to see how these two 2023 draft picks will set themselves apart in Training Camp.

Chris Smith II was primarily used in special teams, appearing in 12 games, while Byron Young finished his rookie campaign with four solo tackles in six games played.

The Silver and Black brought in competition at both position groups, drafting Jim Thorpe winner Trey Taylor and signing DT Christian Wilkins. Nevertheless, their position coaches still have faith in the young players to come in and compete at a high level.

"That kid knows how to play football, it's a nasty, it's a style of play he's still developing," defensive line coach Rob Leonard said of Young. "It's a finish. It's more than just doing your job, but emphasizing the finish with him. He's really smart. He's really intelligent. He wants to be right, but it's playing with that edge at a consistent level. He's shown flashes of it, and I think he's had a hell of a spring doing those things."

"[M]y job is to provide whatever information that they need in order to develop to be the players that we need them to be for the 2024 season and really starting from the foundation," safeties coach Gerald Alexander said. "Whether it be Tre'von [Moehrig], whether it be Marcus [Epps], whether it be Chris, my job is to just provide all the insight and the information and the detail and obviously the cultural execution that we need to be able to display from how we go about our business to develop anybody whenever their number is called."

View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' 2024 Media Day.

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