Starters: Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph
Depth: Obi Melifonwu, Keith McGill, Shalom Luani, Rickey Jefferson, Marcus McWilson, Anthony Cioffi
Additions: Obi Melifonwu (D-2), Shalom Luani (D-7)
Departures: Nate Allen, Brynden Trawick
Returning as the starters are Nelson and Joseph. Nelson is coming off a season in which he collected five interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl. However the secondary was atrocious and he was guilty of a few of the lapses in coverage as well.
Joseph enters his second season since being the team’s 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft. He had an up and down rookie campaign, due in large part to missing the entire offseason while he was recovering from an ACL injury. He said he was also not able to go all out without thinking about the injury, which limited his effectiveness. One would expect with a full offseason and training camp and the injury well behind him, that he will take a step forward this season.
Melifonwu was the team’s second round pick. He was a fringe first round talent so getting him at 56 overall was tremendous. He figures to be a hybrid linebacker/safety this season with the hopes of stepping in as the full time starting strong safety down the road. That would shift Joseph to free safety where he belongs.
McGill switched to safety last season after playing corner his first two seasons. He has not shown much promise at either position. This will be his last shot to see if he can fully make the transition and be a contributor.
Luani has looked very good in offseason practices. Plans for him are to be a standout special teams player, but if he keeps playing like he has, he may find a way onto the field with the defense as well.
Jefferson, McWilson, and Cioffi are all undrafted rookies who will be battling to find a place on the team via special teams.
This position has come a long way from last year. When Charles Woodson retired, the safety position was bone dry for the Raiders. They added Reggie Nelson late in free agency and drafted Karl Joseph with their top pick.
At 34, Nelson was always a short term solution, so Melifonwu was selected in the second round this offseason. Now they potentially have three good options to start with some others battling for the final spot(s). Although letting Brynden Trawick leave as a free agent was not really a smart move. He proved himself to a decent option at safety and an outstanding special teams player.
What condition do you think the Raiders safety position is in?
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