The Las Vegas Raiders were never shy about their plans to put an emphasis on fortifying their personnel in the linebacker corps this offseason.
Although they made a splash with the addition of linebacker Cory Littleton, the arrival of linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski provides some much-needed stability for this group. Of course, he will first need to prove that he is capable of playing on an every-down basis.
Kwiatkoski largely spent the beginning of his career as a role player with the Chicago Bears before signing a three-year, $21 million deal that included $13.75 million guaranteed to become the starter for the Raiders this offseason. He will now have a chance to provide them with plenty of bang for their buck as one of the more overlooked additions to this revamped defense.
According to Tashan Reed of The Athletic, Kwiatkoski has fully embraced the expectations that have come with his new role in the 2020 NFL season:
It’s an opportunity that I feel like I’ve earned,” Kwiatkoski said by phone last week. “I’m excited to see what I can do as the full-time guy. I’ve been through a lot of different changes, position changes and ups and downs in Chicago. So, to come in on Day 1 and be able to have a full season under my belt and show what I can do, I’m excited about it.
“I can’t wait.”
Kwiatkoski added that he is already familiar with the “Mike” position in defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s a 4-2-5 base defense:
“That’s the role that I played in Chicago,” Kwiatkoski said. “I wore the green dot for the majority of the time that I was playing. I’m very comfortable with that and I’m looking forward to it. … Being in the middle of the defense, it’s what I’m used to.
“I’m excited to get out there and be a leader.”
It is encouraging to see that Kwiatkoski is looking forward to taking on such a key role in Guenther’s defense. He will be tasked with putting his versatile skill set on display as both a run-stopper and a reliable defender in pass coverage.
Kwiatkoski’s experience at the position should help pay huge dividends for him given the restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that have prevented new players from getting properly acquainted with their teams. It’s definitely good to see he is now anxious to build on a solid 2019 campaign that saw him register 76 tackles and three sacks after taking over as the starter for an injured Danny Trevathan during the final seven games.