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Most mysterious position group for Raiders as they head into OTA’s

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Oakland Raiders

Very few positions are set for the Raiders, but most of them have a pretty likely framework. Then there’s the safety position. There’s plenty of mystery involved in just what the Raiders’ plan will be both with who will run with the first team and at which position they will line up.

Based on draft position mostly, I have, at times, presumed the plans/hopes would be for Karl Joseph to play at free safety and Obi Melifonwu to step in at strong safety. But that is anything but a sure thing.

Both players were drafted by different coaching staffs with plans put in place under different schemes. Joseph has played strong safety his first two seasons and though Melifonwu saw the field for five games last season, none were at safety (one at cornerback and the rest as a special teamer).

Adding to the intrigue is the return of Reggie Nelson. His 2-year contract was up after last season and turning 35 at the beginning of the season, he was expected to be done in Oakland. Then his old coach Paul Guenther came in as defensive coordinator and wanted a familiar face, so Nelson re-joins the mix and not just as a mentor.

Nelson is a free safety, so if he and Karl Joseph are back as the starters, that would figure to keep Joseph at strong safety.

Also returning is promising second year man, Shalom Luani. The 7th round pick will have to again show off his ball hawking skills to the new coaching staff if he hopes to claw his way into the discussion.

The newcomer is versatile veteran Marcus Gilchrist, who has played both free safety and strong safety in his career as well as a good bit of slot receiver. So, which of those three positions he plays depends greatly on who shows out among the other safeties and corners.

Who would play slot corner is a whole other discussion. If you figure Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin are the starting corners, that leaves 9 players vying for the slot corner spot.

OTA’s begin next Tuesday. That will offer the first indiction of where the Raiders currently see the safety depth chart. Even that won’t necessarily tell us how it will shake out come the season, but it’s a starting point.