An in-Depth Look at the Oakland Raiders’ Most Intriguing Selection, Max Valles

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is no stranger to selecting talent in the later rounds that isn't confined to the practice squad.

In fact, former sixth-round pick Latavius Murray will compete for the starting position this year at running back. Former seventh-round pick Travis Carrie is currently slotted to start at cornerback.

McKenzie may have picked up another prospect in the 2015 draft that will turn heads in a year or two.



Most weren’t aware, but the best pass-rusher on the 2014 Virginia Cavaliers was Raiders’ sixth-round pick Max Valles—not San Francisco 49ers’ third-round pick Eli Harold. Valles led the team with nine sacks and was a force at the line of scrimmage, pulling down 12.5 tackles for a loss. Valles had two years of eligibility left but decided to declare for the draft. Based on his skill set and the need for pass-rushers in the NFL, he could have been a top-50 pick with at least one more year of schooling. 

Nonetheless, he was drafted, and the Raiders are getting the prototypical Leo-type player. What exactly is "Leo"?

According to The Boston Globe’s Ben Zimmer, it’s a modern-day term for a hybrid defensive end/linebacker:

"Leo" is a relatively new defensive role, a hybrid position that is not quite a defensive end and not quite a linebacker. Befitting its "tweener" status, the name "Leo" contains the "L" of "linebacker" and the "E" of "end." The position has also been called "Elephant," with the "E" and "L" in reverse order.

Now, let’s see how Leos are applied used in a defense. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll designates Bruce Irvin as his Leo, via SBnation’s Danny Kelly:

Consider Carroll's description of the LEO position: "The best pass rusher on the team is usually the defensive end to the ope...

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