No secret that Al Davis loved him some defensive backs. A year in which Davis didn’t draft a defensive back was about as rare as year in which Danny Trejo didn’t make at least three movies that went straight to DVD. Speaking of DVD, the recent release of DeMarcus Van Dyke represented the last of Al’s handpicked cornerbacks in Silver and Black. It also represents the sad truth that the Oakland Raiders are still very much reeling from the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha.
Asomugha was the last true success story of the Davis regime as far as drafting and developing cornerbacks goes. Sure, Stanford Routt has turned into a legit #2 in the NFL and on his best days Fabian Washington was also a very solid starter. However Aso stands alone as Al’s last great discovery at corner.
Now considering the commissioner couldn’t even get his name right and the fact that he was drafted as an unheralded safety out of Cal Berkeley one could even argue that Nnamdi’s success secures Davis’ genius standing even during the worst period of his career. But that might be overselling it.
What can’t be screamed loud and long enough is how horrible the cornerback situation has been in Oakland since Asomugha took his talents to Philly. But most of us saw this coming.
The second it became obvious that Davis had no desire to give Nnamdi another mega-deal it would have made sense to pursue other options. But being that Davis was in his typical mood of throwing money at a problem and only placing his chips on bets he felt comfortable with no matter the gamble the Raiders instead took an indifferent approach to replacing Nnamdi.
Routt got a ridiculous raise, Davis drafted two corners a year after drafting two others and by season’s end Oakland had veteran castoff Lito Sheppard as a starter.
Safe to say the Davis’ approach to rebuilding the secondary was ill-fated at best. To the surprise of none, Routt struggled as a #1 corner. Chris Johnson couldn’t stay healthy while both Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa couldn’t even get on the field. Meanwhile the Raiders once dominant secondary was decimated and dismal finishing near the bottom of the league.
Not even a full calendar year into the Reggie McKenzie regime and every one of Davis’ corners are gone from the team.
Not even one regular season game into the Dennis Allen era and already the cornerback situation is looking dire.
I hope I’m dead wrong but I don’t see a collection of forgotten corners being good enough to get the Silver and Black back to the playoffs. Clearly it’s going to take some time until the Raiders are in a better place from a cornerback standpoint. It’s also going to be a longtime until we see another talent like Asomugha in a Raider uniform. Say whatever you will but it is no coincidence that the second Aso departed Oakland’s pass defense became putrid. What else is no coincidence is that most of those blazing fast 40 times Davis so desired equated to nothing more than players that were here and gone from the NFL faster than the time clocked that got them work in the first place.