Raiders take Florida playmaker LB Amari Burney in the 6th round

Raiders take Florida playmaker LB Amari Burney in the 6th round

The Raiders prioritized the frontline and secondary of the defense to begin the draft.

Now, they’ve selected a linebacker.

Amari Burney—a defensive back converted into a linebacker–led the Gators in interceptions in his final season, forcing 4 turnovers total in his senior year. Those statistics show he’s capable of being a playmaker, which is exactly what the Raider’s defense needs after ranking dead-last in the NFL in forced turnovers for 2022.

“I had the best hands on Florida last season,” said Burney, moments after being drafted by Las Vegas with the 203rd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. “My hands are great, I use to play receiver so I don’t drop too many interceptions.”

Coverage linebackers aren’t typically as valued as linebackers that double as rushers after the quarterback, so talent is there to be found in the later rounds for a player with such a skillset.

“You don’t have to double the man I’m covering,” said Burney on his coverage skills. “So you can use the safety as a “RAT” in coverage…I can be very effective.”

The “RAT” is the strong safety notifying the linebacker that he’s assigning coverage duties of the tight end to the linebacker. If Burney is effective in that role, it’ll lessen the burden on a secondary that intercepted just 6 passes last season.

Burney joins his cousin, cornerback Brandon Facyson, who currently plays for the Raiders.

“I was shaken, teary-eyed,” said Burney on joining his cousin. “My mom said how crazy would it be if you guys played on the same team together?”

Now, they are. Hopefully it pays dividends for the Raiders.