The Raiders coached the Senior Bowls' North squad and among the players they coached was former UConn LB Sio Moore.
Moore wasn't initially invited to the Senior Bowl but after a great showing in the East-West Shrine game and following an injury to his former teammate, former Connecticut LB Trevardo Williams, that opened up a spot on the North squad, he was invited to come and compete.
Moore stood out in practices with the Raiders coaching staff and he stood out in the actual game as well, ending tied for the most tackles on the North squad with 6 tackles, 5 of which were solo.
It was at the Senior Bowl, per Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, that the Raiders fell in love with Moore.
Next: Moore’s strengths and weaknesses
What Moore lacks in ideal size (he’s 6’1” 245 lbs), he makes up by being a disciplined and intelligent player.
In the run game, he shows good gap control (linebackers are assigned “gaps” between offensive linemen that they are to guard) which is essential to a good run defense. A player that lacks poor gap discipline allows a running back to exploit an overaggressive linebacker by cutting back where that linebacker should be.
When a ball carrier, tight end or receiver comes to him he executes wrap up tackles to minimize yards after contact. He doesn’t attempt to go for the big hit, instead hitting the opponent low and getting his arms around them.
He understands his role on a defense and can execute his assignments.
On the downside, Moore is not an “impact” player. He probably won’t ever be a star or someone the opposing offense has to scheme around but he is a solid role player that can handle the assignments he is given be they in the run game or pass game.
Next: Moore’s place in Oakland
Moore will join a crowded Raiders linebacker corp and is no lock to start, although he has as good a chance as any.
The only returning starter from 2012 is Miles Burris, who played WLB last year for the Silver and Black.
Burris started out looking better than his fourth-round selection would indicate but his production fell off mid-year and he was struggling mightily by seasons’s end.
Any or all of those four may be starters and Moore will need to show up well in training camp to earn a starting spot in 2012.
If he cannot earn a spot in 2012, however, that simply means that the Raiders have better depth at the linebacker position than they’ve had in recent years.
Moore joins Burris as the only linebacker signed beyond 2013 so even if he cannot earn a starting spot this season, he has a very good chance of being a starter in 2014 and beyond as long as he can live up to his draft potential.