The Las Vegas Raiders need help at safety heading into April’s NFL draft, and perhaps, TCU’s Ar’Darius Washington could be of some assistance.
Next month’s player selection meeting is looking like the best option for the Raiders to find a defensive back. After all, many of the premier safeties that were predicted to be available in free agency have been franchise tagged. Moreover, Anthony Harris is no longer available after signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Drafting Washington would certainly make things interesting for the Silver and Black.
The Raiders could keep Jeff Heath, arguably their best safety last year, and roll with Johnathan Abram. Bringing in Gus Bradley to run the defense might be the biggest defensive upgrade Las Vegas made this offseason. As far as what Washington could bring as the third safety, the Raiders would end up picking one of the highest graded safeties in coverage (73.6) per Pro Football Focus. In fact, according to PFF, Washington only allowed seven first downs in coverage since the 2018 season. That’s in 23 games played, to go along with six passes defensed and five interceptions.
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Should the Raiders pounce for Washington in the middle rounds?
Washington’s height (5’8″) will likely lead to a drop on draft day, luckily, this means Las Vegas could pick him up later. Adding another physical safety in Washington would help, especially in defending the run, where he excelled. As Jordan Reid of The Draft Network alluded to, Washington’s “physicality as a run supporter shows up often and he’s often been able to save the day as the last line of defense”.
Though Washington would be more of ‘project’ under Bradley, you can see he’s solid in man coverage and has adequate speed. Also, he’s athletic enough to man the slot, something the Raiders will need help with now that Lamarcus Joyner’s gone. When you consider Bradley’s resume with defensive backs, Washington’s certainly a player worthy of consideration as he could develop into a starting-caliber free safety.
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