For the Las Vegas Raiders, the defensive side of the ball looks surprisingly athletic. Now, fans sat through years of retreads, failed picks, and roster fillers. This potential group feels different. Did Mayock and Gruden right the wrongs of previous years? Before we get too far ahead, exercise a scintilla of restraint and dive into the roster.
Clelin Ferrell: Now, the second-year started must continue to justify his lofty draft selection. Hope exists, but questions about the explosion remain.
Maxx Crosby: Few guessed how well Crosby would play. Blessed with technique and a quick first step, Crosby should match his 2019 season.
Maurice Hurst: The Raiders are counting on Hurst’s knack for disruption to pay dividends. As is the case with many, 2020 could deem the former Michigan standout as a starter or reserve.
Maliek Collins: A Marinelli favorite from Dallas, many envision him as the slasher compliment to Hurst.
Arden Key: It’s time for the perennial summer standout to translate to the regular season. Now or never.
Johnathan Hankins: Straight run-stopper with the size to clog rush lanes. Provides depth to the interior.
Carl Nassib: Wingspan and intriguing rush repertoire will see him serve as primary end backup.
Free Agent: The Raiders lack tackle depth behind Hankins. As a result, look for them to scour the waiver wire.
Cory Littleton: The crown jewel of the Raiders’ free agency class. Littleton solves the long-standing ‘backer coverage woes.
Nick Kwiatkoski: Heady free agent that never appears to do too much or play beyond his scope. Sure tackler, instinctive versus the run.
Raekwon McMillan: Acquired to push for starting spot in base defensive. Not to mention, enters a contract year. Downhill run-stopper.
Tanner Muse: Overdrafted hybrid, making the transition to linebacker. As a result, Muse will toil on special teams until he’s up to speed. Hyper-athletic, but raw.
Javin White: Undrafted camp standout. With safety coverage skills, White, like Muse, allows the Raiders to enjoy flexibility.
Nicholas Morrow: Longest tenured in the group. Yet, Morrow appears to reach his ceiling. Will survive due to scheme familiarity.
Trayvon Mullen: Will garner more than 65% of snaps. The Raiders count on the young Mullen to provide sticky coverage. 675 defensive snaps, only two touchdowns allowed.
Damon Arnette: Impressed coaches enough for the team to jettison Prince Amukamara. Feisty at the line of scrimmage and willingly hit. Can he cover at this level?
Lamarcus Joyner: After a disastrous 2019, the veteran slot CB must rebound immediately. Three-wideout looks could pick on him early.
Amik Robertson: No player drafted in the 2020 class plays with a bigger chip on his shoulder. Robertson’s tenacity supersedes his size. If he can replicate a small measure of college success, Mayock found a good one.
Keisean Nixon: At this point, Nixon could fill a special teams spot, as the top four corners will see the lion’s share of the snap.
Isaiah Johnson: Both Mayock and Gruden adore the potential of Johnson. Plus, with his size, a potential move to safety in subpackages could work.
Johnathan Abram: After missing fifteen games in 2019, Abram’s ferocity gives the secondary teeth. Will he dial it down to avoid flags and injury?
Damarious Randall: Puzzling free agent signing of a player that struggled mightily in 2019. While he possesses range, something feels off.
Erik Harris: With a mostly positive 2019, Harris enjoyed success and endured catastrophic coverage failures. In subpackages, you could see success.
Jeff Heath: That 2.85 million guaranteed portion of his salary stands out. Forty-four starts and only three touchdowns allowed in the past couple years give Heath a leg up in securing a spot.
In reality, Kyle Wilber could earn a spot, based on his special teams expertise. Rich Bisaccia loves his core guys and maintains a close relationship with Jon Gruden. While the defensive line appears vastly improved, the linebackers sit head and shoulders above all as the most upgraded. In the secondary, the Raiders will roll the dice with two young starting cornerbacks.