Raiders Defensive Personnel Mimics Some Of Patriots Finest

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and the NFL is a copycat league. Knowing that, it seems like Las Vegas Raiders general Mike Mayock is studying the vintage defensive personnel the New England Patriots previously used.

The Patriots recent 20-year run of excellence elicits feelings of sickness, regret, and incalculable hurt in Raider Nation. Head coach Jon Gruden and Mayock are football purists and surely look up to Bill Belichick’s successful tenure with the Patriots. Some of the defenders the Raiders have acquired draw some interesting comparisons to their New England counterparts.

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Here are five Raiders players who closely resemble the positional prototypes of some Patriot greats.

Johnathan Abram (6-0, 205) – Rodney Harrison (6-1, 220)

These two human hit sticks are alike personality wise. It’s even crazier how much they resemble each other. Both are incredibly physical players who want nothing more than to knock their opponent’s head off of their shoulders. While we haven’t seen much from Abram due to injury, we know is an absolute missile when pursuing the ball.

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Damon Arnette (6-0 195) – Aquib Talib (6-1, 209)

He played last year hurt with a broken right wrist, I think he’s the best tackler in this draft,” Gruden said of Arnette. “I think he’s an old school, bump-and-run Raider cornerback that’s physical and nasty. He reminds me a lot — I’m not going to guarantee this — but he reminds me a lot of Aqib Talib, a guy that we drafted in Tampa several years ago. He’s a guy that has great confidence in himself, he comes from a big arena at Ohio State, and the bigger the game the better he played. -Jon Gruden

Usually, after such a endorsement from the coach, one would leave it as is. However, Arnette is an absolute dog. One tough cookie, he taught himself to play with one hand out of necessity. Likewise, his awareness extends beyond the field, as he has been vocal about social justice on social media. Arnette’s sticky press is going to be a game changer in terms of disrupting opponents rhythm at the line of scrimmage, much like Talib was for Gruden in Tampa, and Belichick in New England.

Trayvon Mullen (6-2, 200) – Stephon Gilmore (6-1, 202)

Mullen enters the 2020 season as the Raiders number one corner. The list of elite wide receivers the coaching staff will ask him to cover is a virtual who’s who: Names such as Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Keenan Allen populate the list.

Mullen, like Gilmore, is constantly getting his hands on the football. In 2019, Mullen recorded one interception and defensed 10 passes. His ballhawking skills flashed quite a bit during his rookie season. Not only does he have great instincts, but his physical size and speed are a problem for NFL wide receivers. Finally, his press man coverage, soft-shoe cover 3, and mirroring skills are phenomenal and makes him a pesky defender.

Nick Kwiatkoski (6-2, 243) – Teddy Bruschi (6-1, 247)

When you think of Bruschi, you think of a blue-collar defender who played as if his ass were on fire. Kwiatkoski is not yet a household name. Nevertheless, NFL offenses and quarterbacks are quite familiarized with him. He is a downhill player with a background in physicality. Furthermore, he will don the green dot for the Raiders defense and be their field general.

Kwiatkoski filled in for the injured Danny Trevathan for the final nine games of the 2019 season. In those matchups, he put the league on notice and was such a destructive force that offenses had to account for him on every play.

Clelin Ferrell (6-4, 265) – Willie McGinest (6-5, 268)

At first glance, it’s fair to wonder what exactly Ferrell is thinking. The Clemson product didn’t exactly set the world on fire during his rookie campaign. Then again, while we remember McGinest for the destruction he caused, he didn’t have that great of a first year either. They both sacked the quarterback 4.5 times, and were a big factor in edge setting and run support. Physically, they are nearly the same size.

With the bulk Ferrell added this offseason, he should be able to be more dominant at the point of attack. His best move is his absolute demolishing long arm technique. Despite not being the most explosive edge off the line of scrimmage, he closes on the quarterback fast once he’s turned the corner.

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Top Photo: Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports

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