As we head into the final stretch of the NFL regular season, most teams are now looking ahead to draft season. For the Las Vegas Raiders, they really should only go two ways with their 2021 first-round pick.
Of the two biggest needs the Raiders have heading into the offseason, the pair that stands out most is pass rush and safety. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden could easily go offensive line early as well. However, the Silver and Black still need long term help at safety as well. Starting safety Johnathan Abram has been frustrating to watch at times, but he’s not going anywhere.
The Raiders pass rush, on the other hand, has been lackluster and that’s putting it nicely. When many of the top pass rushers have more sacks than your whole squad, somethings not working. How the Silver and Black address their defensive needs will also depend on what their staff looks like next year. We really don’t know what Gruden will do regarding his defensive staff. And while it might infuriate fans, Paul Guenther and Rod Marinelli could return.
Who Should The Raiders Be Targeting?
There’s still lots of team scouting left to be completed and the NFL Combine has yet to commence, but there are already noteworthy prospects. The one player that could help the Raiders’ defense is safety Paris Ford from Pittsburgh.
Ford is a 6’0″ and 190-pound hard-hitting safety that’s being described as a tone-setter by Joe Marino of The Draft Network. Much of Ford’s strengths are eerily similar to those of Abram’s which could be a good thing. The Silver and Black need their own version of the Legion of Boom, and a Ford/Abram tandem could replicate it. Also, Ford is much more than just a good tackler and grinder as Marino pointed out. He’s also passionate and emotional like Abram, and has a quick downhill trigger, and takes outstanding pursuit angles.
Pro Football Focus points out that Ford had nearly 262 snaps in pass coverage and 165 defending the run this year. A closer look also reveals Ford played on 82 snaps in the slot, 119 snaps at free safety, and 223 playing in the box. On a closing note, Ford has the speed, tackling, pursuit, and passion that would make him a great Raider.
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*Top Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports