Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
After the Las Vegas Raiders had one of the worst pass defenses in the league in their final year in Oakland, one of the focuses for general manager Mike Mayock this offseason was improving the secondary.
Familiar faces like Karl Joseph and Daryl Worley are no longer in the organization, while they will be replaced by veteran free agent signing like safeties Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath and safety Prince Amukamara.
The Raiders also addressed their secondary in the 2020 NFL Draft by taking cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round, linebacker/safety Tanner Muse in the third round and cornerback Amik Robertson in the fourth round.
In addition to all of that, the Raiders will also be welcoming back 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram, who missed all but one game in his rookie season due to a shoulder injury.
The signing of Randall, in particular, to a one-year deal should really boast the Raiders’ secondary. Mayock recently discussed that signing and how he had Randall as the top free safety in the 2015 draft, via Kyle Martin of Raiders.com:
“When I was back in television, doing the draft rankings and everything, I had [Damarious Randall] ranked as the No. 1 free safety coming out of college football that year,” Mayock said. “He had played a lot of corner and people were split on where he should play in the NFL. When I called him for the first time in the offseason about signing him as a free agent, the first thing I did was remind him to go check my old college ranking and see where I had him. He started laughing and said, ‘Mayock I know exactly where you had me, that’s why we’re on the phone right now.’”
Randall and Abram are expected to be the two starters at safety, and Mayock believes the veteran will help complement the young player:
“What I believe is that he could be a wonderful complement to John Abram,” Mayock shared. “We’re going to pair [Abram] with Damarious and Erik Harris, and we think Damarious can bring some athletic ability where he can drop down and cover the slot. So, we think there’s a potential pairing there that could be exciting, but don’t forget about Erik Harris, he’s played some good football for us. We signed Jeff Heath who started for the Dallas Cowboys, so again, this is all about creating competition throughout our team and especially on defense.”
If Trayvon Mullen, Arnette and Amukamara can lock things up on the outside, with Lamarcus Joyner playing the slot, then the Raiders could have one of the most-improved secondaries in the league in 2020.
Cory Littleton is one of the best cover linebackers in the league as well, so it’s clear that improving their defense against the pass was a big priority for Mayock and Jon Gruden this offseason.
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