Raiders cornerback Keith McGill spent most of last year’s offseason program with the first unit. The 2014 fourth-round pick jumped to the front of the line during his second professional spring, but fell back as the regular season encroached and was eventually relegated to special teams duty.
McGill played just 24 defensive snaps last season, during a 2015 season when the Raiders struggled to find stability at cornerback. Upward mobility is harder this year, with Sean Smith entrenched at one cornerback spot and David Amerson penciled in on the other side. TJ Carrie, Neiko Thorpe and DJ Hayden are prioritized options at cornerback, but there’s another spot where McGill can contribute.
McGill is moving to that spot, assistant defensive backs coach Rod Woodson said last week in an interview on The Rich Eisen Show.
The move makes sense, given McGill’s size and experience at the position. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound defender played free safety in two junior college seasons and his first year at the University of Utah. He played cornerback in his final college season and remained there as a pro.
The Raiders are looking for long-term options at safety, with Reggie Nelson and Nate Allen on short-term contracts. They hope No. 14 overall draft pick Karl Joseph starts at one safety spot for years, but he’ll need a partner.
Could McGill be that guy?
“Keith McGill is very rangy, and can be a really good safety in the National Football League,” said Woodson, a cornerback who moved to safety later in his Hall-of-Fame career.
Nelson and Joseph are expected to start at safety, with Allen as the top backup. The Raiders also have McGill and Brynden Trawick in reserve. Cornerback TJ Carrie can play safety as well.