Who is going to start as the Raiders’ second cornerback opposite Travyon Mullen? That is the biggest question mark for the Las Vegas Raiders entering training camp. Although most would agree the battle is really just between Damon Arnette and Casey Hayward, Rasul Douglas and Isaiah Johnson will also compete for that right corner spot.
Last year Arnette started for the Silver and Black. However, Raiders insider Vic Tafur reported that the Raiders might think of Arnette as an “after-thought” going into his second season:
“Well, after watching minicamp practices Tuesday and Wednesday and talking to people in the building, Arnette has become almost an after-thought. The Raiders signed veteran Casey Hayward in May and all but handed him Arnette’s starting job opposite Trayvon Mullen.”
The Raiders brought in Hayward and Douglas as competition for Arnette. If Tafur’s report is true about Hayward being handed the second starting cornerback position, the Raiders 2020 draft will show to have been a disaster. Among the seven drafted players that year, Bryan Edwards rarely played, Tanner Muse was on IR all last year, and Lynn Bowden was traded to the Dolphins before the season officially began.
But to be fair to Arnette, he did undergo surgery after the Week 3 game against the Patriots in which he fractured his thumb after awkwardly falling on his hand. On top of that, no offseason programs, Covid-19, and back-to-back concussions all made for a really terrible season for Arnette.
Some would say those are excuses. However, If Arnette can stay healthy, he should be able to bounce back. He did show some flashes, specifically versus the run game. He showed that he could tackle well, posting 24 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, and 1 tackle for loss. If he builds on that and stays healthy, 2020’s 19th overall pick could bounce back and end up locking up that second corner spot.
For Hayward, he is coming to a Raiders team that has really struggled the past few seasons. Last season, the Raiders gave up the 7th most passing yards per game and the 3rd most points per game. Hayward is coming to a team that really lacked talent, and at the same time, he has a huge advantage to be the Raiders second cornerback because he has experience in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system. They spent four seasons together with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rasul Douglas, Isaiah Johnson, and a few others are in the mix, although they are likely not going to start. Most agree Casey Hayward will likely start opposite Mullen. If that is how this room shapes out, with Arnette coming in as the third corner, and Nevin Lawson potentially starting in the slot, I think the Raiders defense will take strides forward in 2021.
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