With a flurry of offseason activity, the Las Vegas Raiders looked to solidify their roster. Within this major overhaul saw small changes that could pay off, in the long run. Despite building depth, and fighting through the extended time off, the team must continue to find a way. With that said, the fight for the first backup safety will serve as a small barometer as to where the team exists.
If you watch Erik Harris in segments of 2019, you will see three different players. For the first part of the season, Harris enjoyed three starts and one pick-six. The Raiders looked comfortable with Harris patrolling the secondary. While never extremely aesthetically pleasing, the safety worked well within the scheme. Harris appeared capable. After the monster game in Indianapolis, the wheels fell off. Passing offenses began focusing and spotlighting Harris. As a result, the visions of the starting spot over the long haul for Harris fell apart.
When the Raiders signed the former Cowboy, eyes rolled. Why would the team sign yet another thumper at safety? Granted, Heath isn’t in the same as Jonathan Abram, but he holds his own. Heath plays downhill with aggression and anger. When he finds the ball, he attempts to levels whatever he hits. Meanwhile, the coverage aspect of his game leaves a bit to be desired. Yet, his toughness will force receivers to think again.
For all of his grit and coverage traits, Harris does not strike fear in receiver. That is to say that, he will not lay someone out with any hit, legal or otherwise. On top of that, nuanced wideouts with speed with giving Harris fits vertically. Under those circumstances, Harris cannot gamble. Instead, the safest route will help him in the end.
If the Raiders stick with Damarious Randall to play opposite Johnathan Abram, his backup will see some reps. Randall, he of the occasionally shady coverage himself, does not look to give him an advantage. if Jon Gruden is smart, the Raiders need to work in the other two safeties, behind Randall.