Oakland Raiders appear to be much deeper at linebacker

One of the positions that should see the most improvement for the Oakland Raiders appears to be linebacker.

The position was a major weak spot last season, as Oakland was decimated by injuries and was often shorthanded at the position. That does not appear to be the case going into the 2015 season. In fact, the Raiders are so deep at linebacker they have to keep seven linebackers. Most teams usually keep six.

Let’s take a look at why Oakland has better depth at linebacker this season.

Likely starters: Strongside linebacker Khalil Mack, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, weakside linebacker Sio Moore.

Comments: Mack, a dominant second-year player, will line up at defensive end at times, especially in pass-rush situations. Lofton is a veteran free-agent pickup. Lofton has some limitations, but he's a solid field general and good against the run. He will be better than Miles Burris was last season. Moore is coming back from a hip surgery and will likely be back at full strength in training camp.

Likely backups: Outside linebackers Ray-Ray Armstrong, Malcolm Smith, Neiron Ball and middle linebacker Ben Heeney.

Comments: The Raiders will have a difficult time cutting any of these players. I just don’t see it happening. Smith and Armstrong are vying for real playing time in certain situations, and both could push Moore. Heeney and Ball -- both fifth-round picks -- were impressive in offseason workouts. Both have potential to play on defense down the road and both can help on special teams now.