Starters: Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, Nick Nelson (slot)
Backups: Rico Gafford, Montrel Meander, Markinton Dorleant
Free agents: Rashaan Melvin, Leon Hall, Bene Benwikere, Dexter McDonald
On a defense that was weak in most every position, cornerback had a couple of the stronger performances of the season. Conley and Worley are both in their early twenties and established themselves as foundation pieces of the Raiders’ defense.
Conley was the team’s top pick in the 2017 draft. After missing all but two games as a rookie, he finally got to prove he was worth his first round status. In the latter half of the season, he had found his stride and was the best player on the Raiders defense.
Worley was available this offseason because of a DUI arrest that had him released by the Eagles. That incident, which also included a weapons charge, earned him a 4-game suspension to begin the season. Once he returned, he took the field and looked every bit the player Jon Gruden hoped he was getting. Worley is a fiery competitor and it shows in the way he challenges his receiver and his solid tackling.
Leon Hall started most of the season in the slot with safety Marcus Gilchrist also playing some nickel. Later in the season Nick Nelson got more reps and had a rough go of it. The jury is out on whether the fourth round rookie is the talent he was supposed to be had he not torn his meniscus in a private workout with the Lions during the draft process.
The others are roster hopefuls.
Having two starters in whom the team is confident is a big deal for this team. But Gruden would be the first to tell you slot corners are as important as the starters on the outside because teams line up in nickel 60% of the time. Nelson may or may not take a step forward in his second season to be the slot corner the team drafted him to be. Adding a slot corner in free agency to compete at the position is a must.
What condition do you think the Raiders’ cornerback position is in?
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