Raiders’ Secondary Has Bright Future Despite Pro Bowl Snubs

In what has been a season filled with drama and turmoil, the Las Vegas Raiders got one thing right: their secondary. Despite the fact that most of its contributors were snubbed from the Pro Bowl, things are looking bright in Sin City.

The successful revamping of the Raiders’ secondary has been one of the few bright spots despite a midseason tailspin. Of course, the team is still playing for their playoff lives, so hang in there, Raider Nation. Regardless, it was obvious that something needed to be done with Gus Bradley coming aboard prior to the season. The team’s pass defense was putrid in 2020, and a major overhaul was in order. That’s exactly what took place during free agency and the NFL draft before the 2021 campaign. So, three key pieces were added in Casey Hayward, Trevon Moehrig, and Nate Hobbs. Despite the defensive turnaround attributed to them, Pro Bowl voting didn’t go in their favor.

The Veteran

Whether you put much emphasis on Pro Bowl voting or not, the fact is, these three have earned a nod. Hayward’s coming aboard was largely seen as an afterthought by some, a “depth piece” if you will. Instead, he grinded in training camp, and once the season got underway, he became the team’s number one shutdown corner. His coverage has been noteworthy, according to Pro Football Focus, as Hayward is graded at 76.8 so far. He’s surrendered only 22 completions this season and just under 256 receiving yards. All of this while being 32 years old.

He’s a former two-time Pro Bowler, but it surely would’ve been nice to see him get a third nod as a Raider.

The Youngsters

Both Moehrig and Hobbs figure to be long-term pieces in the Raiders’ defense, a duo that justified Mike Mayock’s draft tactics. The current general manager has done a masterful job of picking up talent after the first round. The debate surrounding who made which decisions on first round choices is a debate for another day. Regardless, Mayock hit it out of the park with these two defenders.

Moehrig has largely flown under the radar, far from being a household name. Nonetheless, he has let his play do the talking. Against the Cleveland Browns, he allowed zero catches and accumulated four tackles. PFF also awarded Moehrig with an impressive coverage grade of 75.3 this year. Given what we’ve seen from his rookie campaign, there’s no reason to think that Moehrig won’t start in 2022 as one of the NFL’s best safeties.

On the other hand, Hobbs had to endure getting passed on by every team in the league last April. He saw 150 other players get their names called before the Raiders gave him a chance. Undeterred, Hobbs has made the most of it and flourished as a rookie. So much so, he too grinded and showed out in preseason so well; that he earned himself a starting job out of the gate. Individually, Hobbs has shut down quality receivers all year long. In particular, he held Tyreek Hill to two catches and 16 yards. In addition, he also held Allen Robinson to one catch and 12 yards, per PFF.

Looking ahead…

Moving forward, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Raiders, though most of them relate to management, coaching, and the offense. It should comfort Raider Nation to know that the defense, the secondary in particular, is trending upward, with or without Pro Bowl recognition.

*Top Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Raiders should make a priority to sign Hayward for a couple more years

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