Grading the Raiders defense: Safety

Kevin C. Cox

Oakland Raiders progress report on rebuilding of defense

The Oakland Raiders are rebuilding their defense from the bear bones on up. Continuing my look at the rebuilding process, today we take a look at the safety position. You can also check out the posts on the defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback units.

Safety

The safety position is yet another on the defense that is in drastic need of improvement. As it currently stands, the Raiders have a clear starter at strong safety in Tyvon Branch, but literally added their first free safety to the roster this week with the signing of Usama Young. In addition to Young and Branch, they have a guy by the name of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a practice squader who hasn't played a game in the NFL since 2010 and who has been moved all over the field in an effort to find a position he could play at a high level. Finally, the Raiders signed former 49ers 7th round draft pick Reggie Smith. Smith showed some promise, but had problems coming back from a torn meniscus and spent last season out of the NFL. The problem is, that is literally all the Raiders have, Tyvon Branch, Usama Young and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

The Raiders cut starting FS Michael Huff and allowed SS Mike Mitchell to sign with the Carolina Panthers. Former Raiders FS Matt Giordano is an unrestricted free agent and could possibly be brought back, but while he makes for decent depth, he is not a starting FS and the Raiders should not rely on him alone. The Raiders also signed Young, but he is not exactly a guy to get excited about. Much like the other guys signed in free agency, he did not get much attention, but McKenzie hopes he could be a diamond in the rough. Smith is a guy who very well may not even make the team, but who also could turn out to be just one of those diamonds in the rough. There is a good chance that the Raiders try and address the safety position through the draft since this year is supposed to be particularly deep at safety, but until then, this unit is simply pathetic.

Overall position grade: F+


There is no other grade you can give this group. The plus comes because Branch really is a good player and the Raiders are lucky to have him, but there is zero depth on the team and Usama Young at the free safety position is not something that is going to raise the grade. As of now, this is easily the worst position group on the team.

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