With the 2020 NFL Draft approaching, the Las Vegas Raiders need significant help in the secondary as they kick off a new era of football for the franchise.
The NFL‘s offseason is in full swing. With the draft in just a few weeks, the Las Vegas Raiders are going to need some serious secondary help.
It was originally reported that the team had agreed to a deal with free-agent cornerback Eli Apple on March 18, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On Thursday, another report surfaced that Apple and the Raiders were unable to come to an agreement on a finalized deal. The 24-year-old is now back on the open market.
With that in mind, Las Vegas needs to continue being aggressive in finding aid for the corner group. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s unit ranked 25th in the league in passing yards allowed last season. It was 29th in interceptions. Daryl Worley, one of the team’s best corners from a year ago, is a free agent. Aside from Trayvon Mullen, things are looking pretty bleak for the secondary.
With the Apple signing not happening, it’s back to the drawing board for general manager Mike Mayock. In last year’s draft, he hit on multiple draft picks and put together one of the most impressive rookie classes in the league. He’ll have to do the same in order to get off on the right foot as the franchise moves to Vegas.
Luckily for Mayock, he has a pair of first-round picks at his disposal. He also has three third-round selections. This year’s secondary class is solid, with the cornerback position in particular having many starting-caliber players waiting for opportunities to show what they can do. When the Raiders are on the clock at pick No. 12 or 19 in the opening round, there will still be plenty of good options available.
It’s imperative that another successful draft takes place. This is a pivotal season for the Raiders, as they improved from 4-12 in 2018 to 7-9 in 2019 but are still waiting to make the leap to contender status. Head coach Jon Gruden is entering year three on the job and quarterback Derek Carr is on relatively thin ice. A lack of progress this season would be detrimental to the team.
A good secondary can assist in facilitating a respectable pass rush. The Raiders struggled in that area last year, recording just 32 sacks as a team. With young players like Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell on the rise, adding some talent behind him would not make his life easier.
If there’s a perfect time to snag a solid secondary player or two early in the draft, it’s this year. Not only would it improve one of the most vulnerable parts of the Raiders as a team, but it would set the franchise up for success over the next few years.