When the Senior Bowl kicks off on Saturday, the Raiders will find a game filled with potential prospects. Here are a few that could help the defense
Shaquem Griffin (OLB – UCF)
If you do not know anything else about Shaquem Griffin, you probably know that he only has one hand. However, Griffin has been the spark plug for UCF, a leader on the field that despite a flaw is adept at pass rushing and dropping back in coverage. How that translates to the next level remains a mystery, but Griffin has gone beyond to prove doubters wrong. On the edge, Griffin has a good array of moves to get in the backfield, with a great first step and strength.
Kemoko Turay (EDGE – Rutgers)
The Raiders have a tough decision to make regarding outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. He is carrying a hefty price tag, and they can save money-parting ways with him. Nevertheless, they have to replace his production, and they desperately need more pressure on the quarterback. If Irvin comes back, it is hard to justify using a first round pick on another edge rusher, but Rutgers’ Kemoko Turay may be a viable option late.
Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have had success off the line by using a variety of solid edge rushers, and Oakland can do the same with Turay. While he is still rough around the edges (no pun intended), new Raiders defensive line coach Mike Trgovac did a great job in Green Bay developing edge rushers. Turay has good speed and burst off the edge, with strength and elusiveness. He mainly relies on his bull rush, but Trgovac and Khalil Mack can be great tutors.
Danny Johnson (CB – Southern) –
Cornerback is a big question mark for the Raiders going forward, with plenty of question marks on the roster. Injuries have derailed corner David Amerson, reducing him to just five games in 2017. A criminal case may result in the release of Sean Smith, and free agency may cause Oakland to lose T.J. Carrie.
The only prominent corner on the roster may be Gareon Conley, who will be returning from an injury that sidelined him for most of the season. Conley shows the ability to play inside, but will likely be the outside corner Oakland drafted him to be. That is where the draft allows Oakland to take some chances. Thanks to several compensatory picks, Oakland may have more than four extra picks come April. Late in the draft, Oakland can afford to take chances on some corners.
Southern corner Danny Johnson has made quite a name for himself, an all-around athlete that played both sides of the ball and shined on special teams. Johnson has great speed, good hips, and ability to adapt-and-react on the fly. Oakland can get a solid nickel in the case that Carrie flees for big money, or give him time to develop as a backup.
Darius Phillips (CB – Western Michigan)
The Raiders have been lacking a consistent press coverage corner for nearly a decade. Western Michigan’s Darius Phillips is an aggressive corner with good speed and technique to make up for his risk-taking tendencies. Phillips owns good size and hands, and has the recovery speed to get back when he is beat. In the open field, Phillips rarely misses tackles, and has a knack of making big plays, especially forcing fumbles. On special teams, he is one of the nation’s most dangerous players, albeit kick or punt return.