The Las Vegas Raiders should re-tool their defensive backfield ahead of the NFL draft with some of these soon-to-be-free-agents.
Linebacker and cornerback are the biggest holes the Raiders must address this offseason. Head coach Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will once again be looking to address this weakness and the upcoming draft will provide plenty of ripe prospects.
However, there are a few potential free agents worth looking at. Another variable to keep in mind is how Raiders brass plans to use its cap space. These players could provide depth at an otherwise thin position. While I don’t expect the team to drop serious money, either way, let’s see who might be available as far as possible reinforcements.
The 29-year-old Ryan is coming off arguably one of his best individual seasons. Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave him a 64.9 rating for last season, notching four interceptions, 18 passes defensed, and 113 tackles in the regular season. And for the first time in his career, he started all 16 regular season games last year for the Titans. Ryan won’t come cheap if he doesn’t return to Tennessee, but he would certainly be an instant upgrade in Vegas.
Hill had an excellent season for the Rams in 2019, finishing with a 76.4 rating per PFF. If the cornerback does hit free agency, the Raiders should inquire and see if they acquire his services. He started nine games last season, when he totaled two interceptions, eight passes defensed, and had 41 total tackles to go along with a sack. As he did with Los Angeles last year, Hill would be an instant starter on this defense, question is how much he would cost.
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The former Texans first round pick from 2015 could provide depth for the Silver and Black. While Johnson’s career didn’t pan out in Houston, he was signed by the Buffalo Bills this past season and accumulated a 73.2 grade according to PFF. He had 32 total tackles, five passes defensed, and one sack while starting one game and playing in all 16. He could be a cheap upgrade for the Raiders.
The Alabama native, who had a successful 2019 campaign, will be looking to cash in on his success and the Raiders could certainly use his services. In 15 games, the veteran had three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, with 65 total tackles. His 59.8 rating per PFF is good and his versatility in the backfield would also be highly beneficial.
The six-foot tall corner, who played his collegiate career at Duke, would provide depth as he rates at 57.5 per Pro Football Focus. With the Panthers last season, Cockrell had one of his best individual seasons of his career in which he started 11 games. In those games, he totaled two interceptions, eight passes defensed, and had 62 total tackles. While he’s not a household name, Cockrell could provide a boost while coming at a relatively cheap price tag.
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