The Las Vegas Raiders are revamping their secondary, but a third-year player, Isaiah Johnson, is one to keep an eye on this summer.
Since being selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the then-Oakland Raiders, Trayvon Mullen has established himself as the best cornerback on this roster. Playing hurt as a rookie, Mullen showed not only incredible skill, but also incredible toughness, and will go into his third season as an unquestioned starter.
Who starts alongside Mullen is another question and one that will need to be answered this offseason. While a lot of the talk in terms of who starts has revolved around 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette, or veteran free agent pick-up Casey Hayward, people need to start paying attention to Isaiah Johnson.
Johnson was selected in that same 2019 NFL Draft as Mullen, though he was a fourth-round pick, and has had a slow go in terms of his NFL career. Still, he got a chance to show what he could do at times last season and going into the summer, I believe he is definitely a player to watch in terms of the depth chart.
He has the size and coverage ability you look for in an outside cornerback, and while Arnette could be pushed into a slot corner role, Johnson is best suited to lining up on the outside. When it comes down to it, he may be Hayward’s biggest competition to earn a starting role this summer.
Raiders looking for more than just Trayvon Mullen
As it stands, in terms of the depth chart, there is Mullen at the top, and everyone else below him, so it is wide open for Johnson or any one of these cornerbacks to step up once training camp kicks off. The defensive backfield has been an issue for this franchise for quite some time, but they have a perfect defensive coordinator to fix that in Gus Bradley, the architect of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense.
Everyone is going to get an opportunity to show what they can do, and Johnson has the kind of physical attributes that fit Bradley’s defense well.
The Las Vegas Raiders added talent to the defensive side of the ball, but was it enough for first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Overall, the cornerback group is going to be one to watch all summer long, and Johnson will go into camp very much in the thick of things. Las Vegas must be better against the pass if they are to do anything of substance this season, and Johnson proved, albeit in a small sample last season, that he has the ability to make a difference positively.