Oakland Raiders Position Grades: Pre-Training Camp
Jun 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (left) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (38) at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
- Starter: TJ Carrie
- Starter: DJ Hayden
- Starter: Charles Woodson
- Starter: Nate Allen
- Backup: Keith McGill
This group is like a reverse mullet, veteran savvy and sophistication in the back; youthful inexperienced party in the front. TJ Carrie and DJ Hayden are the assumed starters at the CB1 and CB2 position, but McGill has been making his presence known this offseason, turning quite a few heads in OTAs and Minicamp, even taking a few first team snaps away from Hayden.
The weight of the integrity of this defense rests in the hands of these three young men. They are all bursting with potential, they have an energy about them, and obviously have earned the respect of the coaches and brass alike because no veteran help was brought in during Free Agency, and no notable rookie signings took place at the cornerback position.
Hayden is earning a reputation for being injury prone, something that has dramatically slowed the development of the former first round pick over his first two seasons. TJ Carrie was diamond in the rough signing last year, who showed flashes of his potential throughout the 2014 season, but again had to battle an injury himself.
The corners are a youth movement, while the savvy veterans will be watching their back at safety. Charles Woodson is coming off of a season where he had a career high 113 tackles, and tied his 5th highest interception total for a season with four. In most cases, matching your 5th best season isn’t much an accomplishment, but when you’ve played at a Pro Bowl level for 17 years, it’s a pretty impressive number. I think Woodson’s tackles will go down quite a bit this season, as he was picking up a lot of slack last year after a number of starting defensive players went out due to injury, primarily middle linebacker, Nick Roach.
Woodson’s new partner in crime, Nate Allen, is entering his 6th season as a pro. He should be a strong compliment to Woodson, in that he is also a bit of a ball hawk, grabbing four interceptions of his own last year. He is in a position where he can be a stand out player for the Raiders if he can take advantage of the situation. He’s smart, understands the position, and with the amount of pressure I expect will be placed on opposing quarterbacks by the front seven, he (and Woodson) should be able to keep their interception totals at a respectable level.
SECONDARY OVERALL GRADE: D+
This is the weakest link on the team in my opinion. It all hinges on the young corners, if they are able to come together and really take ownership of the situation, and fill their massive potential, then I know this group will be able to prove me wrong. If they slip, or get injured, it’s going to be a tough season. If that happens the Achilles’ heel of the Oakland Raider defense will be it’s secondary.
Next: Raiders Position Grades: Special Teams