When the Oakland Raiders signed veteran linebacker Nick Roach this offseason, it was assumed that he would immediately slide in as a starter for the silver and black. With training camp just around the corner, though, Roach is anything but a lock to top the depth chart.
A six-year NFL veteran who spent his early years with the Chicago Bears, Roach has spent his entire playing in the shadow of linebackers like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Despite his standing as a starter for the past five seasons, Roach has struggled to earn the respect of the NFL community outside of Chicago.
Now with the Raiders, Roach will finally get the chance to shine that he’s been waiting for.
Before he finds his way into the spotlight, though, he’ll have to overcome some stiff competition for a starting spot amongst the Raiders’ linebacking corps.
This offseason, the Raiders also signed two other veteran linebackers to bring some experience and stability to the unit. With Kevin Burnett, Kaluka Maiava and rookie third-rounder Sio Moore in the mix, there has to be an odd man out. While his standing as a former starter with the Bears will surely help, Roach will have to earn his right to sit atop the depth chart.
At this point, the consensus is that Maiava will start in the middle and Burnett and Roach will man the outsides. If Moore can carry his momentum over from OTAs, though, the rookie could push one of the veterans for a starting spot. Second-year linebacker Miles Burris, who is expected to be ready for training camp after missing spring with a knee injury, also can’t be completely counted out after starting all 16 games for the Raiders last year.
Once training camp gets under way, we’ll have a better idea of what the Raiders’ linebacker depth chart looks like. While Roach has the leg up on Moore, Burris and the rest of the youngsters, he’s going to have to work to maintain his stature as a starter.
It’s his job to lose. Can Roach hang on or will this opportunity with the Raiders slip through his fingers?