clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is it time for Raiders to see more of Shalom Luani?

New, comments
NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Through five games of this season Oakland Raiders Safety Reggie Nelson has been caught out of position far too often. Nelson made the Pro Bowl just a season ago due in large part to his ability to create turnovers — something he has not done. It could be time to give the next man up a shot to see what he can do.

Nelson was always a head scratcher of a signing as he has been known to gamble and get caught out of position. Fortunately in past seasons he was able to also create turnovers this way, this season he is still gambling but he’s losing. He has continually been caught out of position and the results have been touchdowns and long gains for the other team.

Most recently Nelson was named Top Buster for his performance against Baltimore in which he gave up multiple big plays. One of which was the first play of the game where he was unable to get over the top to help Sean Smith. This play wasn’t on Nelson completely but as the single high safety he has to make that play, he couldn’t.

If this was the only problem with Nelson that would be one thing but it’s not. Not being able to get to the sideline has been a recurring problem for him but not his worst issue. His worst issue has been having single deep responsibilities and still allowing receivers to get past him for big gains or scores.

So, going into week 6 of the season what are the options available at safety? Second round pick Obi Melifonwu on injured reserve. Reggie McKenzie rarely makes trades so that’s off the table. That leaves Shalom Luani as the only option for a badly over matched Raiders secondary.

The rookie seventh rounder was an absolute star for the Raiders in preseason this year. Yes it’s only preseason, but his eye for the ball was undeniable. Then came the regular season and Luani has been seen only on special teams.

Luani has the kind of skills that the 34-year-old Nelson simply no longer has in his tool box. Simply put the rookie safety has a knack for being around the ball and making plays. This defense is sorely needing a safety that can get over the top and make plays.

The 5-11, 202-pounder was dubbed s a “Football playin’ Jessie” by Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie post draft, he has lived up to the title.

While Luani has ability he is still a rookie and he can’t be expected to step in and just take over as a starter, he will need to see snaps first. It may be wise to start giving him snaps and see if the kid can play as well as he did in the preseason.

The clip above is a similar play/route the difference is unlike Nelson, Luani is in position to make a play. This is what the defense needs, Nelson gambles too much and the Raiders need a more consistent presence at Safety with their current cornerbacks. The Raiders as a team currently have zero interceptions on the season and it’s time to start seeing what the other guys can do.

The knock on Luani coming out of college was missed tackles. None of those issues showed up in his preseason work. That hasn’t been secluded to just the passing game as he also made plays in the run game.

The Raiders and Head Coach Jack Del Rio can’t afford to keep allowing Nelson to be out of position and giving up yards if he isn’t generating turnovers. The Raiders do not have enough playmakers on defense to overcome players being out of position.

Many fans are at the point where they would rather suffer through some growth by Luani than to continue to see more of the same by Reggie Nelson.


How do you feel about Shalom Luani taking over for Reggie Nelson at Safety?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    I’m all in just start the kid and let’s see what he has
    (1997 votes)
  • 44%
    Let’s give the kid some snaps and see what comes of it
    (1647 votes)
  • 1%
    No way it’s too early to sit Nelson and start a rookie
    (43 votes)
3687 votes total Vote Now