In the summer, fans, and media pictured a different Oakland Raiders secondary. Amerson and Conley would start, while Sean Smith and TJ Carrie filled out the rest of the group. Yet, with four games remaining, a lesser-known player emerges into the spotlight. Dexter McDonald may never become an All-Pro or household name. However, his contributions in 2017 could help pave the way to a longer tenure with the Raiders.
Into the Fire
Granted, the 2017 Oakland Raiders cornerback situation resembles the largest dumpster fire ever. Rookie Gareon Conley found himself inactive and placed on IR with leg issues. Not to mention, David Amerson’s injuries and awful season. Sean Smith continues to irk RaiderNation with the occasional solid play wrapped in blown coverage.
McDonald, originally presumed as a back of the unit depth guy finds himself seeing the field often. From thirty-three defensive snaps over the first three weeks to eighty-seven in the last two is quite the change. Nevertheless, his goal remains the same: make plays and get off the field. As the season winds down and David Amerson continues to struggle with injuries, McDonald should continue to see time.
Out of Nowhere
When reviewing notes about McDonald, you remember the Raiders drafted him two years ago. Draft experts listed McDonald as the prototypical height-weight-speed prospect. In retrospect, McKenzie chose wisely. Cornerback depth can be the difference between seven and nine wins. With teams choosing to spread out defenses, corner help becomes a priority. Under those consequences, McDonald fits what the Raiders currently need. His speed allows him to cover an array of receivers. From the lanky vertical threats to the smallish slot players that give opponents fits.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of McDonald’s game is his ability to get the ballcarrier to the ground. During his 365 snaps, McDonald tallied 30 tackles. Plus, he forced a fumble. To put it differently, he hits the way Sean Smith should. When his film appears, the first noticeable aspect is toughness. McDonald jumps into the fray, surfs through trash, finding the ball.
Overall, the fortunes of the Raiders may not rest with Dexter McDonald. On the other hand, by doing his job, that gives the team one fewer headache. No one expects a superstar performance from him. Yet, he makes plays and shows hustle.