Raiders

Raiders must not neglect their safety position

The Las Vegas Raiders have a clear need at linebacker. Their cornerback depth could also be included and with a relatively solid front four, the safety position isn’t mentioned much when we talk about defensive needs. However, it doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.

With the Karl Joseph era coming to and end, the only adequate safety that has taken meaningful snaps for the Raiders is Erik Harris. Curtis Riley was burned in pretty much every play he was involved in so he can’t be counted on when called up. There’s also Johnathan Abram, who enters his sophomore campaign as an unknown commodity.

It’s been said Lamarcus Joyner may move back to safety, where he’s had the most success in his career, but just like Abram, it’s uncertain whether he’s going to have better production or not. That leaves Harris as the only safety Las Vegas can trust and that might even be a stretch because as much as he’s beloved by Raider Nation, he has a finite ceiling and works better in a limited role.

What should the Raiders do?

I’m sure the Raiders have projected Abram’s and Joyner’s production in 2020, but what if they falter? The organization has got to have a backup plan or better yet, players ready to take over either because the starters failed to fulfill expectations or playmakers who can perform better than the incumbents. Free agency and the draft are good venues to improve the quality of their safety group.

Related: Which WR Should Raiders Draft?

A trade could be another option as we should always be ready for something unexpected, but so far, there’s no indication Las Vegas is leaning towards one so that leaves free agency as the organization’s principal means of talent infusion. Anthony Harris is a premiere player and for that reason, he will command top dollars. If the Raiders want proven contributors, Harris is their man, but they will have to be willing to fulfill his salary demands, which they totally can even if they also sign Byron Jones or Chris Harris. On the other hand, the nomadic Tre Boston has thrived wherever he’s gone. He’s limited, mostly plays safety but fills his niche quite well. He would definitely be an upgrade at a lower price than Harris.

There will be more options but they won’t be as enticing as the ones just mentioned because of age, injury or both. By the same token, if general manager Mike Mayock wants to add youth, the draft is the way to go. The downside of taking that road is that other than Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney, there isn’t as much potential in the top of the draft so they would have to wait until the third round to select a safety.

Abram and Joyner might thrive this upcoming season and Harris will be his same steady self. That doesn’t mean the Raiders should stay put and take the safety position for granted. They can and should address it via free agency or the draft.

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