Oakland Raiders suddenly loaded with talent at cornerback
By Brad Weiss
A position that has long been a weakness for the Oakland Raiders is becoming a strength, as the team suddenly has a ton of cornerback depth.
Last season, the Oakland Raiders did not know what they had at the cornerback position. Sure, they had hoped that Gareon Conley would step up and be the kind of cornerback worthy of the 2017 first round selection, but he had yet to stay healthy enough to show how talented he is.
During last offseason, the Raiders brought in a bunch of guys to try and fill roles at corner, including Rashaan Melvin, who was coming off a solid season with the Indianapolis Colts. Melvin’s stint with the Raiders did not work out, as he battled with the coaching staff, but another free agent, Daryl Worley, showed he should be a part of the solution moving forward.
Looking forward to 2019, and this cornerback group is one of the more vastly improved position groups on this Raiders roster, and that is certainly a good thing. This is a Raiders team that has to face Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers twice a season, and they go up against elite quarterbacks outside of the division in 2019 as well.
This season, Oakland will have to deal with guys like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, and Matthew Stafford outside of the AFC West, so the better the secondary is, the better this team is going to be.
In 2018, Conley ended up stepping up big time, becoming one of the better cornerbacks in the division, and establishing himself as the leader of this group. After re-signing Worley this offseason, and bringing in veterans like Nevin Lawson and Curtis Riley, the group was better heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.
However, the Raiders were not done, adding Trayvon Mullen to the fold with the No. 40 overall pick in the second round. During his time at Clemson, Mullen did not allow a single touchdown in coverage, so just let that sink in for a bit.
In the fourth round, the Raiders dipped back into the cornerback well again, adding Houston corner Isaiah Johnson, a former wideout who is incredibly gifted athletically. He is a bit of a project, but he is long, and physical, and fits the mold of the kind of defensive backs this Raiders team is trying to bring in.
This is a Raiders cornerback room that is going to be one of the more talented we have seen in a long time, as they have a number of guys who could end up starting. Conley showed last season that he has the talent to be a CB1 at the NFL level, and he now has the talent behind him to make him a Pro Bowl player in 2019.