The Las Vegas Raiders have had a less-than-stellar defense in the last few years. After trying to patch the unit with low draft picks and journeymen, the Silver and Black took aggressive measures to fix it.
Ever since general manager Mike Mayock joined the Raiders, the team has tried to revamp their defense. In his first year with the team, Mayock drafted Trayvon Mullen, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby. This offseason, the Silver and Black kept allocating resources in both the draft and free agency.
The Raiders acquired Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski in free agency to roam in the middle of the field. Maliek Collins and Carl Nassib signed with the team to wreak havoc in the defensive line. Moreover, Damarious Randall, Jeff Heath and Prince Amukamara join a secondary that was in dire need of experience.
The Raiders’ efforts didn’t stop in free agency. They selected Damon Arnette, Amik Robertson and Tanner Muse in the draft. The Silver and Black are now full of youth, potential and experience. They definitely look better than they did last season, however, it might not be enough.
The Raiders aren’t there just yet defensively, though they definitely took steps to bolster their defense, but they weren’t the only team that did so. After all, theirs wasn’t a case of the rich becoming richer. Rather, they had such a bad defense that there was nowhere to go but up. It’s true Crosby and Mullen showed promise in 2019, but two players aren’t enough to carry the load.
Safety Johnathan Abram has to show he is healthy. Mullen and Ferrell need to pick up where they left off last year. And Crosby needs to be wary of any potential sophomore slumps. Furthermore, all the Silver and Black’s 2020 draft picks need to pan out.
The hype and the talent are there, it’s just a question of putting it all together. For that reason, it isn’t surprising to the Raiders defense rank in the bottom half of the NFL.
The Raiders defense needs to gel to show results
In a recent feature, Shail Kapadia of The Athletic ranked all NFL defenses, and the Raiders were 24th in the list. He points out the group will look different heading into the 2020 and talks about all the free agent additions they made.
The personnel will look a lot different than last year. The Raiders signed defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Damarious Randall and rotational defensive end Carl Nassib.
Kapadia also mentions the potential the Raiders’ young players have and how they can move up the middle of the pack if they can put everything together.
They also used a first-round pick on corner Damon Arnette. The Raiders need more from 2019 fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell but have to be excited about second-year player Maxx Crosby. They should be talented enough to vault into the middle tier of defenses in 2020.
The Raiders defense allowed the 24th most points in the NFL last season, so it shouldn’t cause outrage to see them listed in that same spot. As Kapadia said, if Silver and Black can get the most out of their young players, their defense will move raise in the rankings.
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Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal