The Las Vegas Raiders had one of the worst defenses in football last season. Simply, the pass rush and coverage units were downright awful. They knew they needed to make changes and switched from Paul Guenther to Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator. As always, coaches like to bring in their own players, especially when the current roster doesn’t have the tools to run their defensive scheme.
The Raiders should be busy this offseason, but some of the moves seem pretty obvious. That starts with getting some players in the locker room that know Bradley and his scheme, and have previously played for him. Here are some players that have connections to the Silver and Black’s new defensive coordinator and could be options in free agency.
Raiders DC Gus Bradley and his Chargers connection
Melvin Ingram, EDGE defender
The Raiders once again had an awful pass-rush. Something that needed to be fixed yesterday, and remains their biggest need in 2021. Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell are here to stay, but there isn’t much depth or production behind them. Melvin Ingram had 24.5 sacks over his best three-year stretch from 2017-2019.
However, the South Carolina standout has been hurt by injuries recently. This move seems worth the risk for Las Vegas in order to get a veteran pass-rusher in the building that knows the system. Ideally, he would be the defender the Raiders thought they were getting out of Carl Nassib but didn’t get.
Nick Vigil, linebacker
Nick Vigil was a target of the Raiders last season before they landed on Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatoski at the linebacker position. In 2021, he would be added as a depth piece, similar to what the Raiders were hoping for in Raekwan Mcmillian in 2020. The Utah State product had 50 tackles last season, including two sacks, on the heels of his 111 tackle season in Cincinnati. Vigil has the talent to be a contributor for a team in 2021 and Bradley was a big reason the Chargers signed him last season and may bring him to Vegas this year.
Michael Davis, cornerback
Davis is not a huge name out of the Chargers organization, however, he made 26 starts the last two seasons. He was a productive player for Bradley and could be a nice depth addition for the Raiders. For perspective, he had 14 passes defensed in 2020, which is equal to Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen. Davis is a starting-caliber corner in the league. Nevertheless, he’s an upgrade over Keisean Nixon and Isaiah Johnson as a third or fourth corner at this point.
Desmond King, cornerback
Desmond King was traded by the Chargers mid-season in 2020. Before that, he was widely considered one of the best slot corners in football. King has gone downhill the past two seasons, but in 2018 had a 90.5 PFF grade in the slot. This is a huge position of need for the Raiders with the potential release of Lamarcus Joyner. At 26 years old, King is still in the prime of his career and can hopefully resurrect his career under Bradley.
Rayshawn Jenkins, safety
Rayshwan Jenkins started 31 games for Bradley the last two seasons and is a 27-year-old free agent. The Raiders need some studs on defense. However, they do need to be fiscally responsible about it with limited cap space. The Miami product can come in knowing the system, and offer decent playmaking skills at the back end with good tackling abilities. Bringing Jenkins in to compete with a draft pick for a starting spot is a good idea for the Raiders to consider.
The Legion-of-Boom Connection
Richard Sherman, cornerback
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has already shown interest in bringing Richard Sherman to Las Vegas. Although, Sherman isn’t what he was in his legion of boom days, the work ethic and attitude are still there. Even though he isn’t in his prime anymore, the former All-Pro knows Bradley’s cover-3 scheme very well and can offer a mentor to the two young cornerbacks the Raiders have invested in the past two seasons.
K.J Wright, linebacker
K.J Wright came into the league and became a key contributor under Bradley. Although he never was one of the top guys on that defense, he contributed very well in the run game and in coverage at the linebacker position. He is coming to the end of his playing days. However, bringing a linebacker with the history he has into the room is a good thing. Especially with a high-priced free agent from last season in Corey Littleton looking to avenge a mediocre Raider debut. Wright can be an asset to a team looking to turn it around on defense in 2021.
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