NaVorro Bowman’s arrival in Week 7 of last season acted as a wedge in the revolving door that has been the Raiders’ middle linebacker position lately. Players have cycled through the role in recent years, including Miles Burris, Malcolm Smith, Ben Heeney and Perry Riley Jr. Bowman brought a steadying presence to the position — at least for 10 games. Now, Bowman, 29, is about to become a free agent. And even if they were to bring him back, the Raiders, who just gave a 10-year deal to new head coach Jon Gruden and four-year contracts to his coordinators, are likely looking for a longer-term solution. Raiders head to NFL combine with defensive needs By Matt Kawahara Published 4:34 pm, Saturday, February 24, 2018 1 Oakland Raiders' General Manager Reggie McKenzie at practice in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle Image 1 of 3 Oakland Raiders' General Manager Reggie McKenzie at practice in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Signup Morning Report Morning Report Daily Newsletter Everything you need to know to start your day You agree to our Terms of Use. Your information will be used as described in our Privacy Policy. NaVorro Bowman’s arrival in Week 7 of last season acted as a wedge in the revolving door that has been the Raiders’ middle linebacker position lately. Players have cycled through the role in recent years, including Miles Burris, Malcolm Smith, Ben Heeney and Perry Riley Jr. Bowman brought a steadying presence to the position — at least for 10 games. Now, Bowman, 29, is about to become a free agent. And even if they were to bring him back, the Raiders, who just gave a 10-year deal to new head coach Jon Gruden and four-year contracts to his coordinators, are likely looking for a longer-term solution. The Raiders, then, are expected to pay close attention to the inside linebacker position both at next week’s NFL combine in Indianapolis and, potentially, in April’s draft — in which Oakland has a top-10 pick in the first round. Two linebackers generating top-10 buzz are Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech and Roquan Smith of Georgia. On a conference call last week, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., said: “Either one of those players, Edmunds or Smith, would be exactly what this defense needs and wants.” Smith won the Butkus Award last season as the top linebacker in college football, recording 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks while helping lead Georgia to the national championship game. Teams will covet Smith’s athleticism and instincts, though some might question whether he’s undersized at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds.