Raiders

Can Raiders Secondary Makeover Yield Results in 2020?

One of the biggest weaknesses for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 was their secondary. Can a shake-up help produce different results this upcoming season?

We aren’t painting an entirely bleak situation but there were some bright spots in the backfield for the Raiders. First, the team found one of its starting cornerbacks in rookie standout Trayvon Mullen. Second, the team added talented youth last year that might produce this season barring injuries or setbacks. As camp commences, safety Johnathan Abram and cornerback Isaiah Johnson are a couple youngsters that are worth keeping an eye on.

In addition, Erik Harris performed well when called upon. Who can forget his masterful game against Philip Rivers. That being said, despite lacking talent, the team moved on from Karl Joseph, Curtis Riley, and Daryl Worley. Raiders brass moved quickly to make sure 2020 wasn’t a repeat of last season in the secondary. The odds of the Raiders improving wouldn’t look encouraging had they not taken aggressive action.

Related: Which Raiders Defensive Back is Primed To Be an X-Factor?

What’s Changed In 2020 For The Raiders?

Cornerback Prince Amukamara might end up becoming an underrated free agent signing for the Raiders. His role will be crucial as he’ll probably defend one side of the field as rookies Amik Robertson and Damon Arnette prepare for the NFL. Of course, this is a short term solution, as Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus pointed out recently.

“Prince Amukamara has been the embodiment of an average corner over his time in the NFL. For his career, he has allowed a completion on 61.8% of the passes thrown his way for a passer rating of 89.6, both almost exactly average figures for a cornerback.”

The other additions by Raiders brass to the backfield were Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath. Assuming Abram is healthy and ready to go without any issues, he’ll likely be starting alongside Randall. Heath will also provide veteran depth that was sorely missing last season, not to mention he’ll bing versatility as a good special teamer.

As far as Mullen, his overall PFF grade doesn’t tell the whole story, overall he was graded at 61.4, his coverage skills needing more development. To Mullen’s credit, his run defense graded out at 77.9, which will be beneficial moving forward. The upside is there, though we can expect Arnette to possibly push Mullen for snaps.

The Joyner Conundrum

Fan bewilderment be damned, one thing that isn’t changing is the Raiders’ use of Lamarcus Joyner. Despite struggling at nickel corner all season, the Raiders refused to move him to safety. Palazzolo points out that Joyney’s PFF grade at that position prior to joining the Raiders was 90.0, so why do the Raiders insist on misusing him?

“Joyner earned the lowest PFF grade of his career last season after topping 90.0 at his peak with the Rams playing safety, and he could find his spot under pressure quickly from fourth-round Amik Robertson, who has incredible stats and tape but is small in stature.”

It’s far too early to really know how the Raiders are planning to use this new-look secondary. There’s a nice mix of speed, youth, veteran leadership, and experience to boot. The question is whether defensive coordinator can finally put a good defense together, something that has eluded the Silver and Black thus far. Putting this secondary in a position to succeed could be a good start.

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*Top Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

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