With the 2020 NFL Draft less than three weeks away, the Las Vegas Raiders are putting the finishing touches on their draft board. Here at the Raider Ramble, it is no different. Over the next few days, final rankings of every position group will be released, with cornerbacks fourth on the list.
Here are the previous three entries:
Raiders Draft: Their Current CB Situation
In 2019, Trayvon Mullen spearheaded the Raiders cornerback group. The rookie out of Clemson proved to be a vital asset once former first-round pick Gareon Conley was traded to the Texans midway through the season.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 18, 2019
Behind Mullen, the Raiders have more questions than answers as the group as whole allowed these haunting statistics last season:
- 7.4 yards per passing attempt (30th)
- 33 receiving touchdowns (27th)
- 64.1% percent completion rate (23rd)
After contract negotiations with veteran free agent cornerback Eli Apple broke down, the position is running thin on experience and talent after the departure of Daryl Worley.
- Isaiah Johnson
- Nevin Lawson
- Trayvon Mullen
- Nick Nelson
- Keisean Nixon
With the passing game currently reigning supreme, the group above does not inspire confidence. One could dare to say that cornerback is the franchise’s most sparse unit. With that being said, the upcoming draft class offers a myriad of talent to choose from.
Raiders Draft: The Top 10 CB Prospects
It is not out of the question the Raiders may use one or even two of their five top 100 selections to address this pressing need. They’re also front-loaded with two top 20 picks and have the means to take a difference maker early and another one later if deemed necessary.
Jeffrey Okudah – Ohio State Buckeyes
Okudah leads the pack at the position and could easily become the best player in the entire draft class. His ability to play in any coverage scheme and shut down opposing wide receivers is unparalleled.
Jeff Okudah in 2018 & 2019
610 Coverage snaps
1 TD allowed pic.twitter.com/DI2XPGGCkX
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 17, 2020
There is no question that Okudah is the top cornerback, but unless the Raiders have plans to trade up, he is not a realistic option for the franchise. Next on the list lies a prospect that has received a fair share of criticism.
C.J. Henderson – Florida Gators
Henderson is also a top-level player in terms of his coverage ability. In 2019, opposing quarterbacks only targeted him 4.3 times per game. He was not tested often, and rightfully so.
Hard to find a more natural looking CB in man coverage than CJ Henderson. Has a real chance to be a top 15 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/URkRfp7yhE
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) June 15, 2019
Henderson’s downside is that he plays the game in such a finesse way that at times, he shows hesitancy to make a physical play on opposing ball carriers.
If I am coordinating offense against Florida's defense, I want to challenge CB CJ Henderson (No. 1) to make tackles. Some ugly reps last night. pic.twitter.com/L8jpKW1588
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) August 25, 2019
There is no such thing as a perfect prospect and his magnificent coverage prowess should overshadow the singular correctable weakness in his play. Depending on how the front office values other players, Henderson is a viable option for the Silver and Black at No. 12.
Jeff Gladney – TCU Horned Frogs
Third on this list is Gladney, who is as physical as they come at the position. In terms of an ideal match, he fits what the Raider front office is looking for at any position.
- Work Ethic/High Motor
If you wanna see a glimpse of why Jeff Gladney is such a fun and tough CB, go check out his tape last year against Hakeem Butler.
Gladney was extremely physical and gave Butler fits all day. pic.twitter.com/lZAA7OLLY3
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 2, 2020
Rather than using the 12th pick, Las Vegas could use the 19th selection on the TCU product. Out of the top three, Gladney is the best choice for the team to address the position in the first round. However, there is another player further down this list that the Silver and Black should also target.
Cameron Dantzler – Mississippi State Bulldogs
Dantzler may arrive at ninth on this list, but he is a corner that fits the Raiders’ defensive scheme. After playing with the Bulldogs, he’s already got great familiarity with the 4-2-5 defensive scheme. As the tallest cornerback in the draft class, he puts his height advantage to great use.
Mississippi State's Cameron Dantzler has fantastic length and match-and-mirror ability. He's a fluid athlete that can stick with his opposition despite his narrow build.pic.twitter.com/8pQXDZKqZw
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) February 18, 2020
As a football player, Dantzler imposes his will with physicality and length at the line of scrimmage. He may not be the fastest prospect, but he will make opposite receivers work to gain separation before they can even think of using speed against him.
Merry Draftmas, the present on the third day of Draftmas shall be Cameron Dantzler.
No CB had as impressive of tape vs Ala and LSU and despite not running a fast forty, Dantzler's physicality and patience off the LoS allow him to stay on top of routes. pic.twitter.com/0YRk9iViHx
— Matt Lane (@Matty_KCSN) April 3, 2020
In 22 starts at Mississippi State, Dantzler didn’t allow any touchdowns and only one reception on 15 targets in the red zone. In addition, he only had one game in his college career where he allowed his more than 60 receiving yards when targeted. For Las Vegas, his skill set opposite of Mullen would be optimal. However, the team must address the gap in selections between 19 and 80 if they were to acquire him.
If the Raiders want to improve, it is imperative that the team addresses the cornerback position in the upcoming draft. Not one, but two additional cornerbacks on the roster would provide depth and relief to a group that will face Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes twice a year. The Raiders must target a talented corner early, and possibly again if they hope to see true improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
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