Will the young Las Vegas Raiders’ secondary be able to thwart the explosive Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers?
Raider Nation hates the Chiefs, which is in itself is an understatement. However, their talent cannot be denied. This is especially true for their wide receivers, who have burned the Raiders secondary quite often. Noting a lack of talent in the defensive backfield, the Raiders have gotten to work these past two years. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden started off by drafting safety Johnathan Abram and cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The latter ended up becoming a rookie standout in 2019. The long-term plan to infuse young talent continued this past April. Cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson were added, with much excitement surrounding both of these selections.
The downside to all of this youth, while exciting, is that there’s a relative scarcity of experience. To combat this, Mayock signed safeties Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath along with cornerback Prince Amukamara. With the plan for the secondary taking shape in 2020, the question then becomes if it is enough. In particular, within the AFC West, opposing wide receiver groups are loaded, particularly in Kansas City. What are the odds the Chiefs burn the secondary? See what trusted sports betting sites are saying as well.
Can Raiders Defensive Backfield Keep Up?
As it stands, the top four Chiefs wide receivers are Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman. With an emphasis on speed, these four burners will be a lot for the Raiders. Take into account these numbers only reflect their regular season campaign.
- Tyreek Hill: 14.8 yards per reception, 57 yards-longest reception, 275 yards after the catch, 4.7 yards after catch per reception
- Sammy Watkins: 12.9 yards per reception, 68 yards-longest reception, 297 yards after the catch, 5.7 yards after catch per reception
- Demarcus Robinson: 14.0 yards per reception, 44 yards-longest reception, 111 yards after the catch, 3.5 yards after catch per reception
- Mecole Hardman: 20.7 yards per reception, 83 yards-longest reception, 292 yards after the catch, 11.2 yards after catch per reception
Scheme or Talent?
So far, Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has proved to be inept at stopping the Chiefs. The issue at heart though is whether this was due to barren talent or scheme. Both Arnette and Robertson figure to compete for snaps, though the current pandemic has surely caused setbacks in their development. It should be concerning because as talented as Amukamara is, he has no business covering Hill. Then again, the top four options all have speed and are downright deadly so who will step up? The Raiders’ talent is inexperienced, yes, by the same token, this might be a case of speed matching speed. It looks like 2020 might be the year this conundrum finally gets resolved for the Raiders.
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*Top Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images
*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference