Raiders Blog

Underrated CB Prospect Raiders Should Consider in 1st Round

The Las Vegas Raiders have been working on a list of position needs ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. The cornerback position must be addressed if the team wants to become a contender. Jeff Gladney can provide that kind of impact in the first round.

Even though the wide receiver corps garners the most attention at first glance, their secondary allowed a NFL worst 7.4 net yards per passing attempt in 2019.

Raiders Blog: Cornerback Woes

This is the Raiders current cornerback lineup after free agency:

  • Trayvon Mullen
  • Eli Apple
  • Keisean Nixon
  • Nevin Lawson
  • Isaiah Johnson

The group, as a whole, is inexperienced and unproven. Trayvon Mullen is, undisputedly, the top corner of a relatively lackluster group. Nevin Lawson signed a contract extension earlier this offseason after a few middling performances down the stretch. Those performances were welcomed, but overall, he did not play exceptionally well for the majority of the 2019 season.

In his six NFL seasons, Lawson has recorded zero interceptions, which are not the defining measuring stat of a corner, but the Raiders should not depending upon him to perform at a high level. With that being said, the team did sign four-year veteran Eli Apple in free agency to alleviate the thought of Lawson starting.

Apple allowes 14.6 yards per completion in coverage. Hence, the Raiders only offered a one-year deal in hopes that he can be a cost effective stopgap while sophomores Keisean Nixon and Isaiah Johnson develop. The need for the Silver and Black to draft a cornerback that can contribute immediately is immense. Assuming the team selects a wide receiver with the 12th overall selection, it makes the 19th overall pick the destination for a cornerback. Unfortunately, it is likely that the top three players (Jeffrey Okudah, C.J. Henderson, Kristian Fulton) at the position will be off the board by then. Alas, there is another player worth a first round choice that few in Raider Nation are discussing.

Related: Who’s the Raiders Latest Reclamation Project?

Jeff Gladney – TCU Horned Frogs

Texas Christian University cornerback Jeff Gladney played in 42 games in the most pass heavy conference in all of NCAA football. He fought his way to the starting lineup in his sophomore season and brought more than a few quality traits to the Horned Frog’s defense.

Aggression/Toughness

Below, the six-foot tall Texas native shows that he is not hesitant to punish opposing wide receivers from the cornerback position.

Gladney’s fearless mindset when matched against taller wide receivers is another welcome positive. His intuitive play style erases the majority of physical advantages receivers possess over him.

Playmaker

Gladney had five interceptions in college, but what stands out on the play below is his football I.Q. He recognizes the pass concept, adjusts his coverage, and then proactively attacks the ball for the interception.

The former three star high school recruit from New Boston is the most battle tested cornerback in the upcoming draft class and accomplishes more than just holding his own when targeted downfield.

Athleticism

Jeff Gladney played both wide receiver and defensive back at New Boston High School in Texas. He is a physical specimen that can squat 620 pounds, bench press 400 and clean lift 400. At only 6’0″ and 185 pounds, that is beyond impressive. What is more impressive is his speed.

https://twitter.com/RecruitAlytics1/status/1219688460757368836

He was not able to chase down the receiver in the play above, but his speed is evident.

For the Las Vegas Raiders, his vertical speed combined with his lateral footwork provide promise and ability to immediately become a contributor.

Ideal Fit

All in all, TCU’s Jeff Gladney has incredible characteristics that would make him the top cornerback in any draft class if it weren’t due to the special caliber of the top three corners in this year’s draft. For the Raiders, he is a player that possesses the toughness, wisdom and coverage ability to become a starter right away. Baptism by fire is how he grew into a heralded defender in the pass happy Big 12 conference in college. should it happen in the NFL, he would embrace the challenge.

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