Perhaps the most underrated aspect of any football team is the mentoring aspect. If you look back in recent history, superstars usually could rely on a veteran presence to help guide them along the path. For the Raiders secondary, that still holds true. In football, becoming an elite player is a combination of talent and the work ethic needed. In Oakland, the Raiders possess two such vital relationships.
Bruce Irvin/Arden Key
Both players share a tenacity and desire to get upfield. Unfortunately, they also possessed the penchant to find trouble. Irvin, the wily vet, grew up in a rough atmosphere. As a result, he did what he could to survive. Meanwhile, Arden Key needed to get his mind right and focus his energies on the field. Yet, many teams avoided Key, as he fell to the third round. With Irvin, Key can learn pass rushing nuance.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Gareon Conley
When the Raiders drafted Charles Woodson, perennial Pro Bowler and borderline Hall of Famers Eric Allen and Albert Lewis led the secondary. Although Woodson cut the more imposing figure, Allen drilled in the concept of smart aggression. By definition, those terms should not fit. However, corners will always break on the ball and gamble. In 1998, Lewis explained his role as mentor
He is not a guy you have to grab and pull and make him pay attention. He watches us and we watch him. You learn a lot more that way than by just talking.”