Ben Heeney to the Oakland Raiders: Full Draft-Pick Breakdown

Reggie McKenzie found his draft-projection compass in the fifth round when the Oakland Raiders selected Ben Heeney with the No. 140 pick. 

There’s no question Curtis Lofton is the starting inside linebacker, but the Raiders desperately needed depth at the position. Miles Burris will likely move back to outside linebacker to redeem his credibility on the field. All of a sudden, Oakland has a roster stacked with linebackers capable of stepping up in case a starter goes down to injury.

At 6’0", 231 pounds, Heeney is considered an undersized linebacker, but so were prolific inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Zach Thomas when they entered the league. Heeney’s energy is conspicuous when you watch his tape. He uses innate football instincts to blow up a play behind the line of scrimmage. These are the qualities you want out of an inside linebacker who is quarterbacking the defense.’s Lance Zierlein discusses some of the traits that likely attracted McKenzie (a former linebacker):

Regional scouts say he is absolutely beloved by coaching staff. Produced eye-catching "tackles for loss" numbers in 2014. Tape grinder always looking for an advantage. Has no interest in waiting for play to come to him and looks to make things happen. Always around the ball and rarely comes off the field.

In college, Heeney was a tackling machine. The Raiders can expect another boost in run defense and a capable zone-blitzer straight up the middle. In a 3-4 package, he’s capable of covering the weak side as a quarterback spy. However, his lack of athleticism makes him vulnerable in pass coverage.

The Kansas linebacker ran a 4.59 at his pro day. He’s capable of making plays after overpursuing ball-carriers despite what reports may indicate about his aggressive play. He's liable to miss some tackles but will never give up until the whistle blows...

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