Chaz Powell #2 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates his touchdown against the Indiana State Sycamores
One of the biggest concerns this offseason was the defensive back position. And even though the team signed four of them as free agents, they were all one year deals so it remains a position the team would like to build for the future. And yet, after six picks in the draft, nary a defensive back was drafted. They saved those signings for undrafted free agency.
You can't complain about the quality of players they got as free agents.
Aaron Henry out of Wisconsin is the highest rated UDFA DB they got. The 6-0, 210 pound free safety was rated as high as the fifth round. He is a converted corner back so he has the coverage skills Dennis Allen likes in his safeties. He started every game for the Badgers over the past two seasons, collecting 125 tackles and six interceptions over those two seasons to help lead the team to the Rose Bowl. He isn't considered a big hitter but the Raiders would rather he roam deep and wrap up. And with his 4.5 40 yard dash, he will be plenty fast enough to close on deep receivers with the size to fight for jump balls.
Conroy Black out of Utah was not highly rated for his tape. Reggie McKenzie took a page out of Al Davis' book in signing Black. Well, sort of. The cornerback ran a 4.3 40 yard dash as the combine. If Reggie had truly pulled an Al Davis move, he would have taken Black with the team's first pick of the day instead of grabbing him as a UDFA. But still, one of the fastest players in the combine is a Raider. Just to keep the streak alive.
Chaz Powell is one of many players the Raiders either drafted or signed from Penn State in this draft. And since the team didn't re-sign Chaz Schilens, he fulfills the team's Chaz quota. He is a big corner (6-0, 208 pounds) which is also a quality Al Davis liked in a corner. Powell is a cornerback by trade but is a Chaz of all trades. He can also play free safety, wide receiver, and kick returner as well. He came to Penn State as a wide receiver but transitioned to corner so he still has a lot of potential for improvement at corner or safety. He too is fast, running a 4-4 40-yard dash at his pro day and a 4.5 40 at the combine.
Corey Gatewood comes over from Stanford to re-join his co-defensive coordinator last season, Jason Tarver. Gatewood jumped back and forth from wide receiver to cornerback during his time at Stanford. But he played cornerback late in his senior season and played quite well.