The Las Vegas Raiders secondary took some important steps this offseason, grabbing Casey Hayward Jr. and Trevon Moehrig. Those two will add talent to a defense that was in desperate need of it.
With those additions, some question marks remain for the Silver & Black, and they’re largely based around the fact that much of the talent in the Raiders secondary remains unproven. Let’s take a look at where the Raiders’ secondary ranks alongside their AFC West rivals.
1. Denver Broncos
While Denver has failed to field a competitive roster over the last few years, they’ve done a terrific job building their defense in that same time span. The Broncos arguably have one of the best defenses in the NFL, with their backbone being their secondary.
They have a terrific safety tandem, including Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, who is one of the more underrated players in the league. This offseason, Denver added rookie Patrick Surtain III and Kyle Fuller to an already talented group, including A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan. This is an absolutely stacked unit, and while Raider Nation won’t be a fan of the Broncos coming in first on this list, it would be a crime to put any other team in this spot.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
Las Vegas did manage to steal Hayward from the Bolts this offseason, but they still have enough proven talent to rank above the Raiders here.
Derwin James is a star, and he alone puts the Chargers near the top of this list. With that said, he has to stay healthy or the rest of this defense will suffer. James is a generational talent, but he has struggled to stay on the field throughout his young career. The rest of the Los Angeles secondary rounds out well, with Chris Harris Jr. and Mike Davis currently occupying the cornerback options, as well as a young Nasir Adderley, who is beaming with potential starting besides Derwin. This secondary has both proven talent and potential, which is enough to land them at number two on this list.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ secondary took a lot of heat last year. They got abused in the Super Bowl, as well as both times they faced the Raiders. They did come up clutch many times last year though, and there are some underrated names on the backside of their defense.
L’Jarius Sneed was excellent last year, and for some reason, the rookie cornerback didn’t get the recognition he deserved. An injury caused him to miss six games last season, but when he did play, he made an immediate impact. While Charvarius Ward isn’t a star, he has developed into a very solid starting cornerback. They still have Tyrann Mathieu at safety, and Kansas City has some young players with a lot of potential including Rashad Fenton and DeAndre Baker as well. The Chiefs’ secondary isn’t amazing, but at the worst, it’s still very solid.
4. Las Vegas Raiders
Yes, I know the Raiders added Heyward and Moehrig. Those two were both terrific additions, but a lot of talent in this unit remains unproven.
Vegas will start Moehrig and Johnathan Abram at safety. Those two are going to have a lot of terrific moments full of promise this year, but they’re going to match those with some equally frustrating moments as well. They will endure growing pains, but that’s natural with any young player, and their potential is undeniable. Hayward’s experience and mentorship will bring a lot to the cornerback unit, and his talent was badly needed as well. Trayvon Mullen’s development should benefit as well since he won’t be tasked with guarding the opponent’s best wideout anymore. Damon Arnette and Isaiah Johnson will get some playing time as well, and they bring a boatload of potential themselves.
With that said, the Raiders simply haven’t added enough proven talent to rank any higher than last on this list. The AFC West is loaded with talent, especially in the secondary. In a few years, don’t be surprised if the Raiders find themselves near the top of this list. For now, they’re stuck at the bottom of the barrel.
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*Top Photo: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun