The Las Vegas Raiders needed to improve in the secondary, and utilizing the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts, they have done just that.
When Mike Mayock took over as the general manager of the then-Oakland Raiders, changes needed to be made on both sides of the ball. The team had a bloated salary cap, and some aging players, but they did have solid draft capital coming up in both 2019 and 2020.
After trading away Amari Cooper during the 2018 season, they added yet another first round pick, giving them three in 2019, and two more in 2020. With that haul, Mayock was able to bring in the players who will become the backbone of this organization, and some have already shown themselves to be stars at the NFL level.
In 2019, the Raiders added Johnathan Abram with the pick the team got from the Dallas Cowboys for Cooper, adding a missile at the safety position. Abram plays with incredible confidence, and a big chip on his shoulder, and after missing nearly all of the 2019 season with a shoulder injury, he is going to be ready to go in 2020.
In the second round, the Raiders added Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen to the mix, who was coming off earning Defensive MVP honors in the national title game. He is an excellent corner in terms of coverage, and really started to show his worth late in the 2019 campaign.
Last month, the Raiders used two draft picks on the cornerback spot, bringing two guys who not only play with a ton of confidence as well, but two who feel they were the best at their position group in the draft class. Both Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson play the game the way Gruden loves it to be played, and their arrival strengthens the cornerback room immensely.
In order for Mayock to turn this franchise around, it was understood that the team had to be better in the secondary, and not only has the group become more talented, but they brought in guys who live for the big moment. Las Vegas will go against some all-time greats at quarterback this season, and having young guys who feel they can get the job done will be paramount to the team’s success.
It takes a certain kind of person to play defensive back at the NFL level, and in Abram, Arnette, and Robertson, they have found a trio who are downright nasty. There should be excitement about this young secondary, and they will be tested early in 2020, so the chance is theirs to make a name for themselves.