The Las Vegas Raiders decided to give defensive coordinator Gus Bradley a familiar face as they assemble a revamped secondary.
The Silver and Black had a disappointing season on defense across the board last year. In particular, opposing quarterbacks had no trouble shredding the unit via the air. With Bradley coming in to take charge, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many of last year’s defensive backs gone. With Casey Hayward officially added to the team, players like Keisean Nixon could be on the outside looking in. Hayward, despite being 31, represents a significant upgrade cornerback over what the Raiders have recently fielded.
What does Hayward bring to the table?
First and foremost, Hayward is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, last receiving that honor in 2017 and in 2016 as well. Just as important, he’s familiar with Bradley’s system, the veteran played for him these past four years. As far as his 2020 campaign, he played in 14 games as he finished with one interception and eight passes defensed. As a side note, Hayward’s coverage grade took a dip from 2019 to last season per Pro Football Focus. It went from 83.0 in 2019 to 59.5 last year, respectively.
Also, Hayward gave up 631 receiving yards in coverage as well as five touchdowns, so it’s obvious the Raiders are hoping to be getting the 2017 version. In Hayward’s defense, the cornerback was targeted 48 times the previous year and surrendered just 350 yards, allowing an average of 11.7 yards per reception. All things being fair, it’s possible that Las Vegas simply wanted a veteran mentor familiar with Bradley’s system to come in, possibly with a chip on his shoulder. Regardless, his experience and leadership will be invaluable. This is especially true with so many young cornerbacks on the roster such as Damon Arnette.
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