While the Raiders will face elite pass rushers throughout the 2019 season. However, what compounds the problem resides several yards away from the line. Safeties, as you know are the proverbial last lines of defense. Granted, few will sit and watch the all-22 footage to check positioning and angles. Below, a few of the impact safeties that the Raiders will face.
Harrison Smith, Vikings
Overall, Smith could be one of the most complete safeties in the leagues. The Raiders will see him lined up in various spots, with different responsibilities. Smith will also run up and provide run support. Smith is a sponge. He learns tendencies and traits at an abnormal rate.
Mike Zimmer’s Quote Comparing Smith to Darren Woodson
“Darren used to want to work on his coverage skills, so when the defensive scout team was out, he’d go out there and play corner so he could work on covering Michael Irvin,” recalls Zimmer. “So I’d say stuff like that to Harrison, and the next day I’d see him out there covering the wide receivers.”
Eddie Jackson, Bears
Granted, Jackson does not provide phenomenal blitzing. Then again, when you play behind that pass rush, getting to the quarterback is not in his job description. However, Jackson excels as a ballhawk. Blessed with range, instinct, and hands, he closes on the ball with certainty. More importantly, the Raiders will see a leader in the secondary that takes charge, unafraid to call teammates out.
Jackson, following a tough loss:
“The whole team got lazy,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “We got too complacent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We didn’t finish. We came out the first half swinging. The energy was there. The second half I felt like the energy was low. Everybody got complacent, and we lost focus that we still had a game to finish.”
For the rest of his career, the Raiders could rue the day that they did not draft him. Instead, the Chargers grabbed the defensive cornerstone and perennial headache. No NFL safety combines the blitzing, coverage and tenacity of James. From every possible angle, he will give the Raiders fits.
Tony Romo , on James’ versatility
“You can’t say enough about him. He is absolutely the real deal. People have been trying to talk about who he reminds them of and it’s hard,” Romo said. “I think he’s like Sean Taylor from the Redskins. He does a little bit of everything. “We call him a position less player. You put him where you think the ball’s going to go most often during the game,” Romo added.
In reality, Derek Carr will need to make sure that he knows the location of these linebackers. If not, the Raiders will suffer.