When the Oakland Raiders drafted Sio Moore in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, it was almost immediately heralded as the steal of the draft by many experts. Most saw Moore as a second round talent with the potential to be a play making starter in the NFL. As it turns out, they were right. Moore had an impressive rookie season in which he showed flashes of greatness.
So throughout the off season it has pretty much been assumed that Moore would be handed a starting outside linebacker job again this season. And there is still a very very good chance he will be one of the starters come opening day, but it would appear as though the Raiders are interested in seeing a little competition at the position before Moore gets comfortable.
The year before the Raiders drafted Moore, they took another mid round linebacker who also impressed in his rookie season: Miles Burris. After missing his second year due to injuries, Burris is back and impressing the Raiders coaching staff. In fact, many of the beat reporters have noted that Burris has received a large number of snaps with the starters at the weak side linebacker position, the position that many expected Moore would be the starter at.
As I have noted with many other positions, most notably the quarterback position, it is far too early to be saying anyone is beating anyone else out for a starting position. The depth chart is written in pencil and there is no question it will change more than once at many positions before the season starts.
But with that being said, this is still a noteworthy turn of events. There were some this offseason who felt that Burris might spend training camp fighting to secure a position on the 53 man roster. Seeing him get significant reps with the first team changes that conversation even if it does not mean he will necessarily push for a starting job.
In all likelihood, Moore will wind up as the starting weak side linebacker. While Burris showed a lot in his rookie year, the one thing he was missing was the ability to be a big play maker. He was a solid all around backer but rarely flashed the moments of greatness that Moore did. But with that being said, if Burris impresses the coaches enough, it will free them up to get more creative with Moore and Khalil Mack, possibly lining them up at defensive end on occasion in order to create more of a rotation on the defensive line.
Regardless of who ends up starting at weak side linebacker, it is good to see Burris healthy and playing well. One of the biggest concerns for the Raiders last season was the utter lack of depth. At a minimum, Burris will represent a backup with starting experience and a lot of upside. That is not a bad position for the Raiders to be in when it comes to linebacker depth.