4. Improved Secondary
The Raiders, once again last season, had a crappy pass defense. Charles Woodson’s farewell tour covered up much of the 26th ranked pass defense’s bleeding, but it was clear from opening kickoff that improvements to the secondary were needed ASAP.
And these improvements would come in an expensive off-season for the Raiders. Thanks to the free agent signings of Sean Smith and all-pro Reggie Nelson, drafting of Karl Joseph, and the extension of breakout corner David Amerson, the Raiders new look secondary should perfectly compliment the pass rush. DJ Hayden, widely considered by many in Raider nation as a bust, will hopefully thrive in a reserve role where the pressure will be lifted, and will no doubt improve learning behind Smith. TJ Carrie struggled as a starter last season, but his ability to play both corner spots, some safety, and even nickel back in some packages will only help the Raiders’ secondary.
The massive improvements to the secondary will be a perfect compliment to the pass rush (more on that later). Smith, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract, will allow Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to run any type of coverage he wants to. He can press bigger wideouts (like division foe Demaryius Thomas) and although he has a tendency to give up a big play every now and again, he is a solid cover corner. Karl Joseph, a hard-hitting safety, will only get better as time goes on due to the plethora of veterans, such as second team all pro member Nelson, lining up at the other safety.