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Veteran safety Charles Woodson turns 39 in October. The ageless wonder continues to play quality NFL football, but one can’t expect him to continue at this rate forever. Eventually, the Raiders are going to contemplate his successor.
They might need one as early as next season. The Raiders have some in-house options, with Larry Asante and Brandian Ross capable of being paired with free-agent signee Nate Allen.
Ross showed significant growth last season and filled in well for injured veteran Tyvon Branch. He could be a primary option after Woodson bows out. Developmental prospect Jonathan Dowling also showed promised as last year’s final draft pick, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll play at a starter’s caliber.
The Raiders could look to the draft for a long-term answer at safety, though it’s far from a high priority considering the team’s other needs.
Who’s here: Charles Woodson, Larry Asante, Brandian Ross, Nate Allen, Jonathan Dowling
Draft needs: The Raiders could use a versatile defensive back, and could certainly find one in this draft. The Raiders should be on the lookout for value at safety in order to improve their special teams and add competition to be Woodson’s successor.
Good fits: The Raiders brought Derron Smith in for a visit, and for good reason. The Fresno State alum is a real talent, though a bit undersized for his position. He has great ball skills and is a solid cover man. If he’s around in the fourth round, the Raiders should jump at the chance to take him. He might not make it that far. He’s also an experienced return man, something the Silver and Black should target in this draft.
Louisville’s Gerod Holliman could be a solid late-round option who could develop into a solid pro. Western Michigan’s Donald Celiscar is a quality cover man and could be an asset in a pass-happy AFC West as either a safety or a cornerback. Northwestern’s Ibraheim Campbell is a high-character player who could have late-round value.