As the NFL free agency period rages on, the Las Vegas Raiders sit in a holding pattern. The Raiders made their biggest free agency signing in defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Kenyan Drake coming in, as an honorable mention.
Las Vegas sent a message to the players: if you cannot rush the passer, we’ll find someone who can. In addition to Ngakoue, the Raiders signed Darius Philon, Matt Dickerson, and Kendal Vickers. While stockpiling a much-needed position helps in the 2021 season, the Raiders did little else to boost the rest of the defense. Now, one of my favorite arguments for the lack of secondary signings is that increased pressure on the quarterbacks will result in the defensive backs having to cover receivers for less time.
However, there still is a healthy amount of doubt that the Raiders’ defensive backs can cover receivers at all. Obviously, the less time a quarterback has to throw the ball, the better. But, teams can adjust for high-pressure defenses and, without quality cornerbacks, still, break off chunk plays on short throws. The B-side of the Raiders message is far more harrowing, as the lack of defensive back signings implies either a level of trust in their current players (who have not performed particularly well) or a level of trust in their ability to draft (which has not gone particularly well) multiple defensive backs.
As phones vibrate like an automatic toothbrush from all the updates on signings around the league, it is still amazing to see the Raiders not even remotely attached to free-agent defensive backs. Even if the plan is to use every last draft pick on some sort of defensive back, it could not hurt to bring in someone a bit more adjusted to the style of play the NFL features.
Needs Better Depth
While it must be noted that Las Vegas did resign Nevin Lawson and Dallin Leavitt this offseason, these are not currently players any team would enjoy giving the starting role to. It would be hard to believe that the front office’s mindset is “superstar defensive back or bust”, but it would make a lot more sense than being completely content with the players the team has now. Perhaps the Raiders choose to move in silence with their potential signings. However, in today’s day and age, all news finds a way to leak.
After two relatively stagnant seasons hovering around average, the Raiders appear poised to make the jump. They reworked the offense with new faces. Also, the defensive linemen depth astounds me. Yet, if the season started today, the Raiders could still embarrassed by high-powered offenses, winding up around the .500 mark.