The wait’s over, the Las Vegas Raiders have hired their defensive coordinator. The winner is, Gus Bradley, and he brings along his assistant coaches, Ron Milus and Richard Smith.
Bradley runs a Cover 3 defense, but it has evolved over the years and is now more multi-layered. His strength has always been putting his players in positions to succeed, something the Raiders have lacked for decades. Let’s now go back to the main issue, which is the roster and talent available for Bradley. Are there pieces in place to build around? Is there another tear-down in order? Let’s breakdown what Bradley, Mike Mayock, and Jon Gruden should do to get this defense pointed in the right direction.
Improving the Raiders pass rush
Bradley is one of the least blitzing defensive coordinators in the game and needs a good front four to succeed. Right now, this Las Vegas team has one of the worst front fours in football, but that can change. There are some options out there that could help them immediately take a leap forward.
What can the Raiders do?
Keep Takk McKinley and David Irving – Neither guy showed they’re worth re-signing However, the Raiders badly need depth. They should move on from defensive end Carl Nassib and with Arden Key gone, they just don’t have the bodies on the line. Both McKinley and Irving have shown flashes in the past, and maybe an off-season in the Bradley system will help these guys resurrect their careers.
Sign Romeo Okwara – Everyone’s salivating over the idea of Melvin Ingram on the defensive line in a reunion with Bradley. But he’s injury-prone at this point in his career. The Raiders should take a flier on a guy like Romeo Okwara, who flashed on a bad defense.
He finished the season with 10 sacks and 61 pressures for the Lions, giving him a top 10 PFF pass-rush grade on the season. If they can snatch him up to fill the pass-rush specialist role that Key and Nassib failed to fill this season, that’s a good start for Bradley.
Draft Christian Barmore – It’s been a decade since the Raiders had a dominant interior pass-rush, it needs to start now. Signing middle of the road free agents, while passing on elite college options needs to end now. Barmore is the prize at the defensive tackle position in this draft, with his 6.5-sack campaign in 2020, he may have played himself out of the Raiders range. Las Vegas should strongly consider trading up for Barmore. His best NFL fit is at defensive tackle in a 4-3, perfectly fitting Bradley’s defense, which would give the Silver and Black some interior pass rush they have been desperately needing.
How to Fix the Secondary
Cut Lamarcus Joyner – Simply put, LaMarcus Joyner has been awful in his two seasons with the Raiders. Las Vegas can free up around $11 million, and use it to improve the team elsewhere. In Bradley’s system, slot corner plays a significant role and is an important need this offseason.
Sign William Jackson III – William Jackson has the tools to become elite. Injuries have sort of derailed this notion. The Texas native has shown elite flashes and is a perfect fit for Bradley’s defense. He can play man to man well, but being the outside guy in the cover-3 suits him extremely well.
The contract would be relatively steep and the Raiders may not be keen on moving last year’s first-round pick, Damon Arnette, to the bench. In today’s NFL, it’s important to have three good corners, so this move’s necessary, whether it’s Jackson or someone else.
Sign Desmond King – King has been considered one of the best slots in football for years. However, the Los Angeles Chargers shipped him away and he struggled a bit with the Tennessee Titans. If one Bradley connection comes to Vegas let’s hope it’s King. who thrived in Bradley’s system and would be a huge get for the Raiders.
What a concept, sign someone to play his natural position, something that hasn’t been done too often in the Raiders defense lately. King is a sure tackler that has the ability to eliminate the slot during a game. In addition, he can cover the tight end when needed, which is a huge advantage in the AFC West.
Other Minor Moves
- Move Isaiah Johnson to safety
- Re-sign linebacker Nicholas Morrow
- Draft Best free safety available
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports