With today’s addition of undrafted rookie safety Jeremy Deering out of Rutgers, Reggie McKenzie has continued his move to add more size and versatility to his DB corps by adding players late in the draft and, now, an undrafted free agent.
Deering (6’1″ 206), listed as a safety, played wide receiver and some running back at Rutgers, and amassed over 1100 yards as a kick returner. He will join a class of rookie DBs that include a number of overlooked athletes with size, athleticism and a special teams pedigree. Seventh round pick TJ Carrie, a 6’0″ 206 pound cornerback who has impressed early in camp with his coverage skills is also considered a prime candidate for return duties this season. Fourth round pick Keith McGill, a 6’3″ cornerback, also played safety in college and was an outstanding gunner on kick and punt returns. Another seventh round pick, safety Jonathan Dowling (also 6’3″) is a hard-hitting safety that proved himself useful on kick coverage in college.
With six roster spots already spoken for barring further injury setbacks to Usama Young and DJ Hayden, it seems these four rookies, along with undersized rookie corner Jansen Watson (5’9″ 177) and six other young DB’s (Taiwan Jones, Chimdi Chekwa, Shelton Johnson, Brandian Ross, Neiko Thorpe and Chance Casey) will compete for as few as three roster spots when final cuts are made. The competition for safety spots will be incredibly tight, as it seems unlikely that Charles Woodson, Usama Young or Tyvon Branch will be cut, leaving room for only one additional player. If the Raiders decide to keep six cornerbacks, we may see both McGill and Carrie make the roster, especially if the latter continues to impress in camp. Still, with Hayden and Young both on the PUP list, there may be room for the Raiders new group of DB’s to prove themselves before the regular season begins.