When looking at the Raiders’ cornerback situation, it’s important to take in the bigger picture. If you judge them based solely on their performance last season, it might seem like the whole unit needs an overhaul. But that’s not really the case.
I’ve seen fans call for the Raiders to cut either or both Sean Smith and/or David Amerson at various points. That’s ludicrous. The team invested long term in both players prior to last season for a reason. It’s because prior to last season, they both were among the better corners in the league. And I don’t see the team giving up on either of them after one season together.
There is the issue of depth, however, as well as competition for the slot/nickel corner spot. Neither Smith nor Amerson can play in the slot. Currently TJ Carrie is in place there. He is serviceable, but the Raiders would do well to try and bolster that spot.
Here are the corners in this draft who I see showing up on the Raiders’ radar and in what round.
Gareon Conley, Ohio State — Round 1
With the way he seems to be rising up draft boards of late, it’s looking less and less likely he will be available at 24. But if he were there, he’d be a considerably attractive pick.
Sharing a defensive backfield with the consensus best corner in the draft, Marshon Lattimore, usually had opposing quarterbacks choosing the lesser of the evils. Even still, Conley held his own. His numbers improved each of the past three seasons at Ohio State. In 2015, his first as a starter, he allowed 27 catches for 437 yards and an opposing passer rating of 71.6 while intercepting two passes. Last season those numbers improved across the board, allowing just 14 catches for 159 yards with 4 interceptions and an eye popping 13.6 passer rating.
His ability to play both inside and outside is what makes him attractive at this spot. He can play the slot for the time being and should they look to make him a starter on the outside, the 6-0, 195-pounder has the size and abilities for that as well. Not to mention his 4.44 40-yard dash and 4.68 3-cone were among the best at the corner position in this year’s class.
Fabian Moreau, UCLA — Round 2
If not for a torn pectoral muscle he suffered doing the bench press at his pro day, Moreau would probably be a first round pick. But in a very deep cornerback class, teams can afford to be picky, allowing him to slip to mid-late second round. His pec will heal and he’ll be fine. It isn’t a leg injury so there’s no worries about him losing any of his blazing 4.35 speed.
Along with his physical abilities, Moreau also an extremely smart player. A team captain who is known for being able to read the offense and plays well in zone, while also performing well in man coverage. His skillset is perfect for the Cover 3 which Seattle deployed to perfection during Ken Norton Jr’s time there and which the Raiders also run from time to time.
Teez Tabor, Florida — Round 3
His 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine is cringe-worthy. But a tenth of a second faster and we’re looking at him as a potential first round talent. He may not last into the third round, but if he did, this is where I could see the Raiders taking interest. Whatever speed he is lacking, he makes up for in instincts as evidenced by his terrific numbers during his career at Florida. Over the past two seasons, he has had 8 interceptions and 28 passes defended. He has a swagger and a confidence about him that’s somewhere between Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib which carries its pluses and minuses.
Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida -- Round 5
This is the part of the draft where you find something you like about a guy that you can’t teach and hope the other skills come along. With Griffin, his value is his size/speed combo. He’s 6-0, 194 pounds and runs a 4.38 40 and a 6.87 3-cone. He also put up some impressive number the past couple seasons at Central Florida with 6 interceptions and 34 passes defended. He was targeted 73 times last year, giving up 29 catches of 188 yards. Unfortunately 6 of those catches were for touchdowns.
Channing Stribling, Michigan — Round 6
Stribling’s numbers are quite impressive. Last season he gave up just 19 catches on 63 targets with 4 interceptions and 17 passes defended. Arguably the most impressive stat is the 22.7 passer rating by opposing QB’s when throwing his way. At 6-1, 188 pounds, he is long and lean. With just one season of starting experience, he needs a lot of work. But that may be saying a lot considering what he’s been able to accomplish with somewhat unrefined technique thus far.
Also see: Raider Draft Radar: Linebackers