Coming out of last season the Raiders had a cornerback crisis on their hands. Their two starters, Sean Smith and David Amerson, were underachieving on huge contracts and their most reliable cornerback TJ Carrie was headed for a handsome contract himself on the free agent market.
Their answer was to basically go with the law of averages. They signed a ton of scrap heap cornerbacks, all of whom have in recent years shown potential to be a solid talent and figured odds are a couple of them will pan out.
Honestly, that’s not the worst plan.
The incumbent is Gareon Conley, who was the team’s top pick in last year’s draft, but who missed all of training camp and saw the field just two games last season due to a shin injury. He gets a second chance to make a first impression.
First up among the additions was Rashaan Melvin, who burst onto the scene last year, is extremely confident, and looking to prove he is one of the better cornerbacks in the league. The Raiders gave him a one-year deal to prove it. He is pegged as the starter across from Conley.
A few days later, it was veteran journeyman Shareece Wright who, at the age of 31, is on his third team in three years and still trying to prove he can be an asset to an NFL team.
They don’t get much more veteran than 33-year-old Leon Hall. He too has been around the league of late. The former longtime Bengal is now on his fourth team in four years and is familiar with DC Paul Guenther.
Then there’s former 2nd round pick Senquez Golson whose career was upended by injuries, leading to his not appearing in single game since the Steelers drafted him in 2015.
Days before the draft, the Raiders nabbed recently released Daryl Worley. A former third round pick in 2016, Worley started 25 games for the Panthers and had been traded to the Eagles in exchange for wide receiver Torrey Smith. Worley was cut following an arrest in which he was passed out drink in his car in an intersection with an unlawful firearm in the car.
Then, come the draft, they made Nick Nelson their pick in the fourth round. They supposedly got him a round or two later than he was projected to go because he suffered a torn meniscus in a private workout with the Lions. They don’t think the injury is serious enough to affect him long term, and expect to have him back by training camp. But some teams had greater concerns with his knee.
They also signed former 5th round pick Shaquille Richardson on a reserve/future contract in January.
Along with Conley, the only other returning cornerbacks are Antonio Hamilton, and Dexter McDonald for a total of ten cornerbacks on the roster, all of whom have some question marks.
They figure they can find five roster worthy corners in the group, including a couple starters, and a nickel guy, giving each guy about a 50/50 shot at panning out. I’d take those odds.