NFL Rookie Watch: Oakland Raiders Linebacker Sio Moore Looks Like a Starter

By Curt Popejoy
Sio Moore
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Football is here. Well, preseason football is here, but for NFL fanatics it makes the return of their passion. The Oakland Raiders are one franchise that enters the 2013 season with tempered expectations. Questions still abound at several starting spots, including quarterback, but one spot that appears to be well in hand is the strong side linebacker position where rookie Sio Moore has taken advantage of his training camp to find himself at the top of the depth chart to start the preseason.

Coming into the draft Moore was downgraded by some draft pundits because he lacked elite measureables. Too often people become enamored with a gaudy physical presence and jaw-dropping triangle numbers and forget to actually watch them play football. Coming out of Connecticut, Moore showed that he could be a physical and smart linebacker who used his strength and smarts to make plays all over the field in spite of some physical shortcomings.

What Raiders fans have seen in Moore is more of the same. He works hard, plays very good assignment football, and has shown that lined up on the strong side he can beat one on ones, find the football and finish. Those are the same things that set him apart in college. Granted his opportunity to start at SLB is due in part to an injury to linebacker Miles Burris, but that doesn’t mean Moore isn’t good enough to be on the field. Long-term, Moore is a much better option and would provide the Raiders defense with a more dynamic player who can run a defense and provide an example for a unit that has underperformed.

2013 Projections

Assuming Moore can win either the WLB or SLB starting spot, his opportunities will be plentiful. Replacing linebacker Philip Wheeler means replacing over 100 total tackles. Even as Moore is a rookie, he’s got a shot to put together a very good rookie season.

Solo Tackles-70 tackles
Asssists-21 tackles
Total tackles-91
Tackles for loss-11
Forced fumbles-2
Fumbles recovered-1
Passes defended-5

Curt covers the NFL draft for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard and connect on Google.

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