Believe it or not, Raiders have the players on the roster right now to fix their defensive woes.
The defensive secondary for the Oakland Raiders has been disappointing, to say the least. It’s no secret that the ability to cover receivers longer gives reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and the rest of the defense time to get in the back field and end drives.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t happening and to top it off, this unit has yet to record a single interception as well.
A Different Time
It has been years since the Raiders have had a solid group of defensive backs. Nnamdi Asomugha was the last great corner for the Raiders and they haven’t had a player of his caliber since 2010. Cornerbacks that were on the opposite side of him were Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chris Carr, and Fabian Washington, just to refresh your mind.
Is it crazy to think that the best defensive back the Raiders have had in the past six years was a 37-year-old Charles Woodson? To be honest, he still would be the best defensive back on the team.
Currently the Raiders have ten defensive backs on the 53-man roster. Starters: David Amerson, Sean Smith, Karl Joseph, and Reggie Nelson. The role players: TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald, Keith McGill, and Obi Melifonwu. As far as injuries go, Antonio Hamilton and Gareon Conley were non-factors this season.
The Talent Is There
What if the Raiders have the players they need to become a legitimate defensive secondary but they just aren’t being put in positions to be successful. A lot of the players on the defense are athletic enough to play multiple positions, something that’s overlooked.
The starting cornerbacks should be Carrie and Melifonwu; at free safety, you would have Joseph, as this was his natural position in college, and Shalom Luani, the seventh round rookie, would be opposite him.
Luani is a ball hawk, solid tackler, and can play in the box and there could be an argument that he could be the best draft pick in this draft class (defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has the edge, in my opinion). He showed in the preseason that he can play the position and in the regular season he has been able to match the speed of the NFL.
During his combine workouts, Melifonwu was seen as a player that can play both cornerback and safety. He checks the box in the genetic freak requirements. Standing 6’4″ and weighing around 207 pounds with a 4.40 40-yard dash. On a side note, the late, Al Davis would have been proud to see him in the Silver and Black.
Carrie is the cornerback that shows flashes on occasion but he has been burned by receivers as well. Carrie is in a contract year so he will be looking to stay in Oakland to contribute or he will be shown the door depending on how the season progresses.
Joseph is a heavy-hitter but can also be a ball magnet. At West Virginia, he racked up 274 tackles and nine interceptions with seven passes defensed. That’s at the free safety position. Joseph’s talent is tracking the ball but he can’t do that when he has to cover a running back out of the backfield. He can watch a play develop and make a play.
Conley’s return next season would move Carrie to the slot cornerback position but it all depends on the secondary fixing the problem now and not next year.
The Raiders are in a position now where, if they lose three or four games, then the season is over. If they come out of the bye week with a new look against the Patriots on Monday night, this lineup will give them the best chance to hold offenses in check. They might even get their first interception of the season.