How will the safety position unfold for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020? There is one battle between a couple of veterans worth watching.
The Raiders made a couple moves to improve the safety position
Let’s pretend last year didn’t happen. Now, imagine the Raiders weren’t signing random safeties off the street. With that out of our system, the 2019 season definitely occurred. The Raiders backfield was completely devoid of talent. It all started the very first game when top pick, Johnathan Abram, injured his shoulder on Monday Night Football. Ultimately, he ended up missing the entire year. The Silver and Black was in such a need of healthy bodies that they brought in D.J. Swearinger. Heck, even Daryl Worley saw snaps at safety.
Fast forward to 2020 and the safety position is looking far better. The Raiders made it a priority to add veterans in free agency. Also, Abram is back fully healthy and ready to show he will be taking one of the starting safety spots. To determine the other starter at safety, the Raiders will have themselves a position battle.
Erik Harris vs. Damarious Randall
Erik Harris was a forgotten man once the Raiders drafted Abrams. Once the Mississippi State product got hurt in Week 1, Harris became the starter alongside Karl Joseph and made an impact pretty quickly. Harris can play either safety spot in Paul Guenther’s defense, but his forte is the strong safety position. Also, the Raiders signed Damarious Randall to play free safety earlier this offseason.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock previously praised Randall. He said the safety was the prototype of what the position should look like in the NFL. There were other comparisons too, Mayock likened Randall to 49ers safety Jimmie Ward when he was working as a draft analyst for NFL Media. Randall is known for his ability to play all over the field and he has been very consistent with staying healthy, which bodes well for the Raiders.
Last year, Randall wasn’t himself and his stock went down while Harris became a fan favorite and received praise from Gruden and Mayock from some of his performances last year and the way he came in and performed after Abram’s shoulder injury. Randall didn’t have any interceptions last year, despite having over 14 when he was with Green Bay. Meanwhile, Harris had five interceptions and two returned for a touchdown in his last 18 starts.
Regardless of who wins this camp battle, I am expecting them to bring their A-game. Especially with the loser waiting in the wings to take the spot. The Raiders have to feel confident in the newly added depth they’ll have at one of the most important spots they have had trouble with over the last several seasons.
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*Top Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images