Rookie Linebacker Showing Promise for Raiders

Cory James, a sixth-round pick from Colorado State, showed good range and playmaking ability in first NFL game

By NFL standards, Cory James isn’t a big linebacker.

The Raiders’ sixth-round pick from Colorado State is just 6 feet tall and 229 pounds. But in college, James was a playmaker, a guy who was consistently all over the field and could rush the quarterback.

Now he’s looking like the same type of player in his first pro training camp.

James had looked good in camp practices, and he carried that into the Raiders’ exhibition debut against the Cardinals this past Friday night with five tackles.

“He showed us what we’ve been seeing,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters Monday after practice. “He’s an active guy. He’s picking up our scheme very well. He’s a guy that’s going to be productive. He flies around. He gets around the football. We’ve been happy with him this entire spring and he had a good showing in his first outing.”

At Colorado State, James was a four-year starter who was incredibly productive. In 2013 and 2014 he had a combined 15½ sacks as an edge rusher before being moved to middle linebacker as a senior.

At this point in camp, James is listed behind Ben Heeney on the depth chart at middle linebacker, but it’s obvious that in the Raiders’ constantly shifting alignment James could be a movable piece, capable of playing inside, outside or as an edge pass rusher. It’s looking more likely that James could make this roster and contribute on special teams and as a situational contributor.

He was excited to finally see his first NFL action Friday.

“It was my first game so I made a lot of rookie mistakes,” he told Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “But I also made a lot of good plays so I’m happy about that.”

The Raiders will take on the Packers in Green Bay Thursday night in their second exhibition game of the summer.

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