Hey guys, I've been trying to write for so long and now that I am off of school, I want to do a positional review for each position on the team, starting with the CBs. Well, here we go!
Easily one of the worst areas of the Raiders game came from the CBs last year. From young talent, to bad judgment, to physical limitations, the CB group just didn’t perform to the level expected, especially from a team led by a head coach, who was not only a defensive coordinator, but also a DB’s coach. Well, GM, Reggie Mckenzie, noticed the lackluster play and immediately fired the DB coaches at the season’s end.
Luckily, two well-respected DB coaches became available for the Raiders in the off-season, with Joe Woods from the Vikings and Marcus Robertson, from the Detroit Lions and the Raiders pounced. Both came from teams that lacked significant talent in DBs and yet, they found decent success. You also might’ve noticed coach Robertson at the NFL combine this year also.
From the coaches, a change has occurred. The same occurred from the players, where a critical overhaul occurred also.
Here are the CBs from the 2013 season:
CB1 – Mike Jenkins
CB2 – D.J Hayden
CB3 – Tracy Porter
CB5 – Taiwan Jones
PS Player: Chance Casey
Note: They don’t seem that made, with Tracy Porter looking the best from the bunch, but lacked in run support. D.J Hayden was a rookie and seemed to be close to making plays, but always came up short. Mike Jenkins had flashes, but was consistently getting burned by starting receivers. He has decent run support compared to the CBs. The rest were very mediocre, with Taiwan used very sparingly, since he was mostly utilized as a gunner on SP teams. A player to look out for here is Chance Casey, who might be ready to break out.
Here is the line-up for the 2014 season:
A starter for the 49ers, has the ability to play at a high level, with good ball skills, tackling ability and instincts. A talkative leader, his presence will be felt by the younger players. Tarell Brown, when signed said, "I think Hayden is a great talent, a guy with a lot of speed and has all the athletic ability and can play this game. The big thing for him is just to be around guys that can help mold him and bring him along and help him turn into a true professional." He started every game for the Niners in 2011 and 2012, while only 10 in 2013 due to injury, but he is easily one of the best CBs the Raiders have had on their roster in a long time.
My sleeper of the group! He has a lackluster rookie campaign and people are already signing him off as a bust. What I have to say about that is look at the tape and notice how close he was to every ball completed on him. He is so close to making the play, but is short by a little every time.
This is why the learning curve of a rookie CB is so difficult, because it is the littlest aspects that can lead to making a play or giving up the catch. Don’t forget, he had one of the most difficult years of his life with his life-threatening injury and his increased level of competition. This year, expect good things out of DJ.
In fact, coach Tarver has already said, "From his surgeries to his injuries to what he’s overcome personally, physically, everything. He’s a great young man, working hard right now. He’s honing his technique, he looks explosive and he’s put on weight and strength. And he’s really focusing in on learning the little things in the defense so that he can play faster and be more aggressive on certain types of routes. He’s definitely on the upswing."
Also from the 49ers, a seasoned veteran, look for Rogers to take over the slot corner job, recently Tracy Porter’s job. Tracy Porter was young and maybe a little more talented, but Rogers is a seasoned veteran, and his craft is perfected. He should be fine at holding this position down, and might even be an upgrade due to his ability to run support. He has played at a high level with the Niners, so his presence will be vital for defensive success and the growth of the younger players. A couple years ago, he was one of the Niners very best, but age is catching up to Rogers. Let's see if he can return to glory.
He has the perfect size to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. Look at how dominant Richard Sherman is. He has character issues, and is a little older than preferred as a rookie, but has the tools to be a great CB. He has a little tightness in the hips, but has good ball skills, plays physical and tackles. His size is such an advantage, that he has the potential to be a great player, if he is willing to put in the time.
Rant Sports praised this selection stating, "McGill is a big, athletic playmaker with tremendous upside. I honestly thought he could go as early as the top of round two, so for the Raiders to just sit back and let him fall to them at no. 116 overall is an absolute bargain."
McGill is in the perfect situation also, where he doesn’t have to start immediately. He can learn from the veterans and coaches on the team, and if he pans out, the Raiders might have a player who will dominate for a long time.
I don’t know how much time Taiwan will get as a CB because of his importance to the SP team. He is the single most important person on SP teams defense, being the gunner, but he has the speed and footwork for a CB position also. Well see how he will be utilized, one thing is certain, he is appreciated for his work, with the new contract he signed from Reggie Mckenzie.
Just like Taiwan, T.J is a SP teams ace. He is an award winner as a punt return and CB, earning a 2013 All-MAC First Team as a punt returner and All-MAC Third Team as CB. He was also a team captain. He will obviously come in and be a punt returner first, an area the Raiders have lacked and a corner second, where he isn’t that bad. He of course, has a lot of learning to do to become a starting caliber CB, but being a 7th round pick, not too much pressure is on Carrie, so he can learn his craft. One thing is for sure, if he picks the ball of, he is taking it to the house.
He came out of nowhere last year in the preseason, and looked good also. He was decent in coverage, but the area he shined was run support, making physical tackles and dissecting plays. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to crack the starting lineup and never played significant minutes during the season. Let’s see if with the new coaches and players, he can come out of his shell.
He has been on the team for a while now, somehow making the team each year. Well see if he makes the team this year, because the Raiders never had talent like this in his time here. The pressure is definitely on Chekwa this season! He might have to turn to SP teams to make the roster this season.
Concluding this article, it is for certain that the Raiders have steadily improved their CB position this year, from new coaches to new players. They took players from successful and proven background, and fused them with young, hungry talent with tools necessary to be successful. Expect to see the "Commitment to Excellence" back with the CB group this year and the future.