While the scoreboard might not have reflected it, the Oakland Raiders defense played surprisingly well against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend. One of the bright spots was rookie outside linebacker Sio Moore, who made quite the impact despite limited snaps.
Although Moore is currently slated as the Raiders’ starting strongside linebacker, the 2013 third-round pick is always the first linebacker off the field when Oakland goes with a nickel defense. Hence, he only saw 26 snaps on Sunday. What he did during those 26 snaps, though, should have the Raiders reconsidering their personnel packages.
While lining up against 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, Moore tallied two tackles, one sack and three hurries with only seven pass rush snaps. It was by far his most productive game so far, earning him a 3.3 overall rating from Pro Football Focus.
Moving forward, the Raiders need to find other ways to get him on the field. While sending Kevin Burnett or Nick Roach off in nickel packages isn’t ideal, Oakland could instead choose to have left end Jason Hunter exit and bump Moore down to the defensive line. Teaming him with the dominant Lamarr Houston on passing downs could prove to be a formidable pass-rushing duo.
The Raiders spent a third-round pick on Moore last April because of his athleticism and explosiveness as an edge rusher. It took him awhile to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL – especially after spending his college career at UConn – but the promising rookie appears to be stepping up to the challenge.
At this point, Moore is one of the most exciting pieces of the Raiders’ defense. If they want to stay competitive throughout the 2013 campaign, they’d be smart to find him a bigger role moving forward.