The Oakland Raiders have not been good at the safety position the past few seasons and will look to change that in 2019.
With offenses continuing to evolve and force defenses to cover every inch of the field, the safety position has become the defensive chess piece. Teams are searching for those hybrid athletes that can excel deep in coverage, play man to man, and be physical up at the line of scrimmage. Players like Harrison Smith, Kevin Byard, Jamal Adams, Derwin James, and Micah Hyde are an extremely valuable piece that allows coordinators to be very creative. You still have traditional center fielders and up in the box safeties, but versatility has become the desired norm.
For the Oakland Raiders, the safety position has not been one to write home about. Since the retirement of Charles Woodson, they haven’t really had an impact player outside of one good Reggie Nelson season in 2016. The rest has been poor play or injuries, and 2018 was mostly just more of the same.
Oakland went out and addressed the position in free agency and the draft, yet still, it feels like they missed the actual area of need. They signed Lamarcus Joyner but have chosen to use him primarily as a nickel corner, which is strange considering his best years have been a free safety. Joyner has said he enjoys playing the slot, but if Wade Phillips thought Joyner was best at slot, he wouldn’t have played him at FS for 86% of his snaps the last two seasons.
So with that in mind, Joyner will not be part of this preview since his main priority will be playing slot corner.
Let’s take a look at what the projected starters look like and what each player within the group can bring in 2019.