The Raiders’ young cornerbacks are growing up fast. General manager Reggie McKenzie said a few weeks back that DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie and Keith McGill don’t need veteran leadership to succeed.
That’s why he had no problem allowing Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown hit the open market in a few days time.
That doesn’t mean the Raiders will stay away from free-agent cornerbacks. The Raiders could add a veteran to the mix.
That’s a good idea considering that Hayden’s two years experience makes him the elder statesman in that top trio. In addition, each cornerback has injury concerns.
McKenzie imported veteran starters on one-year contracts over the last few seasons, and this change in strategy proves his build-through-the-draft philosophy might pay off in the secondary.
The Raiders could be selective in the cornerback market. Here are some select options McKenzie might consider.
DJ Hayden: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, 2 accrued seasons, Houston
Stats: 47 tackles, 10 passes defensed, 1 interception
TJ Carrie: 6-foot, 200 pounds, 1 accrued season, Ohio
Stats: 44 tackles, eight passes defense, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Keith McGill: 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, 1 accrued season, Utah
Stats: 43 carries, 96 yards; 11 receptions, 71 receiving yards
Thoughts: The Raiders have some talented young cornerbacks with room to improve, but there’s some health concerns. Hayden has missed significant portions of his two pro seasons. Carrie has an injury history in college and battle through an ankle injury. McGill missed significant time last year that slowed his development. These guys could be good, but they have to stay healthy.
BIG TICKET ITEMS
Kareem Jackson (Houston): 5-foot-10, 188 pounds, 5 accrued seasons, Alabama
Stats: 57 tackles, 9 passes defensed, 3 interceptions
A good fit?: Jackson has grown into a solid starter after struggles earlier in his career. He makes quality plays on the ball and has proven to be a solid cover man. He could come in and start right away, adding strength to the Raiders secondary at 27 years old. He can play outside and in the slot, free to assist should injury hinder the cornerback depth chart.
Byron Maxwell (Seattle): 6-foot-1, 207 pounds, 4 accrued seasons, Clemson
Stats: 39 tackles, 12 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
A good fit?: Maxwell saw a ton of action playing opposite Richard Sherman with the Seahawks, and fared well despite increased targets. He’s a long, physical receiver many teams coveted and can be tough to deal with at the line of scrimmage. New defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has a good read on Maxwell – he was Seahawks linebackers coach during Maxwell’s pro career – and his opinion should carry weight in the Raiders’ evaluation of a young talent that may get overpaid in a thin cornerback market.
Others: Brandon Flowers (San Diego), Chris Culliver (49ers), Antonio Cromartie (Arizona)
Perrish Cox (49ers): 6-foot, 190 pounds, 4 accrued seasons, Oklahoma State
Stats: 53 tackles, 17 passes defensed, 5 interceptions
A good fit?: The Raiders could sign a cornerback from the 49ers for a second year in a row. Last year, they got Brown and Rogers. They could aim for someone younger this time and sign the 28-year old Cox, who is coming off a strong season. If he’s a player the Raiders believe can come in and contribute, the Raiders can afford to one-up the 49ers in a bidding war.
Davon House: 6-foot, 195 pounds, 4 accrued seasons, New Mexico State
Stats: 27 tackles, 10 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
A good fit?: McKenzie doesn’t need veteran leadership, but he could see starter’s potential in House, who has been a backup in his time with the Packers. His lack of starter’s experience could make him cheaper than most. He’ll be 26 in July and could be a solid addition to a young group that can grow together and compete for major roles.
Others: Sterling Moore (Dallas), Walter Thurmond (New York Giants)
Overall thoughts: The Raiders need to add quality depth to this group, and there are options to do so. While McKenzie has faith in his young, recently drafted corners, adding to the mix will serve to help the entire secondary. Bring in at least one new guy via free agency, line ‘em up and let ‘em compete.