Oakland Raiders biggest needs at halfway mark

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Nov 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) secures the ball to his helmet after making a catch as Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29) defends during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 38-35. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

With an assumed faith in Oakland’s secondary, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie did very little during the offseason to address the lack of talent Oakland had (and now has) at the cornerback and safety position. Though he did bring in former Philadelphia Eagles safety Nate Allen on a four-year, $23,000,000 contract, he’s seen just 11 snaps this season due to a knee injury he suffered in Week 1 against the Bengals.

According to NFL.com, Oakland has allowed the most passing yards per game this season (314.6).

Most recently, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown routed the Raiders’ passing defense with 17 receptions for 284 yards. According to ProFootballFocus.com, 2013 first-round pick D.J. Hayden allowed eight-of-nine targets for 119 yards when covering Brown, while mid-season addition David Amerson allowed 8-of-12 for 159 yards.

Although Hayden has received a great deal of negative feedback from the media and he is still technically developing as a young player, his time in Oakland is likely coming to a close at the end of this season. With his inability to both press at the line of scrimmage and make breaks on the ball in man coverage, Hayden is a proven liability in coverage whether he is lined up in the slot or on the outside. Of 110 eligible cornerbacks in the NFL, Hayden is listed as the No. 105 overall corner, via PFF.com.

With a noticeable need at the position, McKenzie brought in Amerson after being waived by the Washington Redskins after the first two weeks of the 2015 season. Since then, Amerson has worked his way up to Oakland’s No. 1 corner position, but that’s not saying much. Given that he has flashed at times, Amerson should still be given the opportunity to develop for the rest of this season, but his future in Oakland is nowhere near solidified.

At 6’1″, 200 pounds, Neiko Thorpe has desirable size for the cornerback position, but his potential isn’t enough for him to avoid a short leash within Oakland’s defense. Thorpe is one of the few corners on Oakland’s roster that has had some success pressing at the line of scrimmage, but he is oftentimes slow to react in man-coverage and unreliable when lined up off the ball.

As for the cornerbacks Oakland selected in the 2014 NFL draft, Keith McGill has seen just 20 snaps this season primarily due to injury, while T.J. Carrie has easily been Oakland’s second-best defensive back behind Charles Woodson.

With Allen being removed from the lineup due to injury, Carrie has proven versatile in the secondary, as he has filled in quite well at free safety over the last few weeks. Carrie unfortunately missed last week’s game in Pittsburgh, but he is expected to return to action in Week 10 against Minnesota.

Next: Filling the Need: Secondary