Shilique Calhoun had quite the college career. The Michigan State alum was a second-team All-American three times. He had 131 tackles, including 44 for a loss. He had 27 sacks in 54 games as a dominant defensive end, twice named a semifinalist for a national defensive player of the year award.
Calhoun was clearly comfortable and productive at defensive end. After becoming the Raiders’ third-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, Calhoun was asked to make a switch.
Calhoun will primarily play rush linebacker in the Raiders defensive scheme.
“I’ve been playing a little bit of everything,” Calhoun said this week in a SiriusXM NFL radio interview. “I’ve been moving around, but I’m mainly at (strongside linebacker) and the LEO. I’m trying to learn those two positions and master them behind two great players in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.”
Mack and Irvin should see significant snaps, rarely, if ever, coming off the field. Calhoun could be counted on as the primary backup, a rotational pass rusher behind two stalwarts.
While strongside linebackers and LEOs are primarily on the prowl in the Raiders defensive scheme, Calhoun won’t always be attacking as he was at school.
He’ll be playing in space at times, asked to cover on occasion. Calhoun is athletic enough to do so despite being 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and has enjoyed the new responsibilities learned during the now-completed offseason program, where he spent most time in a two-point stance
“It’s different, but it’s fun,” Calhoun said. “I’m having a great time doing it. I’m having fun with a great group of guys who you may not have known if you didn’t play the sport.”
The Raiders are a tight group and Calhoun should fit in well. It’s been a long year thus far, from the pre-draft process through rookie minicamp and the offseason program. Calhoun went through a rookie transition program this week at the Raiders complex, but is now free until training camp in late July.
Calhoun doesn’t consider it vacation time.
“I’ll be training as much as I can and getting into the playbook,” Calhoun said. “I think it’s important to understand my position and the entire defense. You need to understand the bigger picture, so I want to stay focused and stay fit during this period. I also want to stay in touch with the veterans as well.”