The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will have a formidable team once again this season. However, can the Las Vegas Raiders and their new-look wide receiver corps exploit the Chiefs cornerbacks?
If there’s one position that head coach Jon Gruden’s Raiders can look to exploit versus Kansas City, it’ll be the cornerbacks. The biggest addition to the Raiders offense this past offseason was wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. His blazing speed will stretch opposing defenses, which in theory will open up the rest of the Raiders offense. This should translate into a bevy of mismatches and opportunities for the other receivers such as Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow in the slot.
Bashaud Breeland is one of the better corners in the NFL, that much can’t be disputed. Though he faces legal issues and will miss time early on, Breeland will have to be accounted for as a premier outside corner. On the other hand, the rest of the cornerback group is solid but by no means unbeatable.
What kind of corners will the Raiders wide receivers be facing?
Other than Breeland, the Chiefs will roll with Charvarius Ward, Antonio Hamilton, and Rashad Fenton as their top corners. As far as Ward, he started all 16 regular-season games last year for the Chiefs. For the year, Ward totaled two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, and had 56 solo tackles. Taking a total of 1,048 defensive snaps, he was targeted 89 times and gave up 629 receiving yards on his own.
Hamilton played in all 2019 regular-season games while starting two for the New York Giants. While the corner didn’t come down with any interceptions, he did have four passes defensed. As a member of the Giants, the cornerback saw 18 targets his way and gave up 66.7 completion percentage and 156 receiving yards. He saw 133 defensive snaps last season. That number will increase so it will be interesting to see if opposing quarterbacks will pick on him.
Fenton played in 12 games and while he didn’t start any games for the Chiefs as a rookie, he figures to have a bigger role in 2020. Clearly, Kansas City eased him into the NFL with only 165 defensive snaps last year. Fenton’s small sample makes it hard to know if he’ll be able to cover the likes of Ruggs or Williams all things considered. The same thing goes for Hamilton, so creating mismatches will be key in 2020 for the Raiders.
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*Top Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference