After the 2020 season came to a brutal end, the Las Vegas Raiders knew what they had to do. They needed to revamp their secondary – and fast. After hiring Gus Bradley to be their new defensive coordinator, the Raiders were headed in the right direction.
While the hiring of Gus Bradley was a good start, it wasn’t all that they needed to do. Head Coach Jon Gruden knew he needed to add some critical playmakers to the roster. Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock brought numerous respected veterans to the desert, including pro-bowler Casey Hayward and Karl Joseph. The two veterans will serve as leaders to the rest of the Raiders secondary, which is one of the youngest in the league.
The Raiders continued to improve their secondary during the 2021 NFL Draft. The Silver and Black brought on the highest ranked safety of the draft, Trevon Moehrig. They also drafted Tyree Gillespie and Nate Hobbs to help out in the defensive backfield. These young rookies have a lot of pressure on their shoulders as they join a secondary that ranked fourth-lowest in the league in 2021.
As the Raiders wrapped up their first week of training camp, the secondary has seen a level of praise from Gruden that they haven’t seen in years. Gruden is ecstatic about what he saw last week, and that excitement extends to the players as well.
New Raider Casey Hayward praised third-year veteran Jonathan Abram. Hayward says he believes Abram will “peak” in Gus Bradley’s new defense. Abram was the lowest-ranked PFF safety in 2020 with a 35.9 overall grade (94th out of 94). Karl Joseph may push Abram for playing time if he doesn’t take a step forward in 2021.
The Raiders hope that Trevon Moehrig will be the answer at free safety. They are also expecting contributions from rookie Tyree Gillespie, who is currently injured. The safety position is a significant question mark for the Raiders secondary, and it’s not the only one.
The cornerbacks will also see a position battle in training camp. Second-year veteran Damon Arnette will compete for playing time with a group led by Trayvon Mullen and the newly-acquired Hayward.
With position battles heating up during the second week of training camp, some of these questions should be answered soon. Raiders fans have big expectations for this year’s secondary. If all goes according to Jon Gruden’s plan, the secondary should see a big turnaround from last season.
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