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Coaching staff pleased with Raiders cornerback Jakorian Bennett

The Raiders’ 4th-round pick started in season opener

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Jakorian Bennett
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Fourth-round picks are often projects who, if they don’t play much as rookie, it’s not that big of a deal as long as they show they can develop.

So, when a fourth rounder does play (an starts at a premium position) in his NFL debut, people notice.

That’s the case with Las Vegas Raiders’ cornerback Jakorian Bennett. The Maryland product went from being a little-recruited green player out of high school to a Day 1 NFL starter. At cornerback, to boot.

It’s pretty impressive.

The fact is Bennett had an up-and-down NFL debut in the Raiders’ 17-16 win at the Denver Broncos on Sunday. He struggled in coverage and was called for a couple of penalties, which is predictable for a rookie. Yet he did show strong tackling ability as he registered seven tackles, which was the second most on the team.

Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen will likely test Bennett on Sunday (kickoff is 10 .am. PT), but it will simply be part of Bennett’s learning curve. That is experience is crucial for a young cornerback. Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is thrilled Bennett is getting the experience so early as a rookie.

“Experience is a great teacher for all the young players. Get a chance to play in the NFL for the first time, get a chance to work the matchups, work the coverages, the tackling,” Graham said this week. :”The thing that you’re looking for, for those young players, is to see the improvement there. And it comes from getting experience. The speed of the game, the physicality of the game, that’s the best teaching and the best learning that they’ll get is actually to do it. So, I would think it’s a great benefit for him and for the rest of the young players.”

Graham said Bennett’s tackling ability is on of the things they liked about him coming out of college.

“It all starts from the evaluation process; we value smart, tough, disciplined football players and whether it’s the cornerback position, the safety position, defensive line, linebacker. To play defensive football in this league you have to be able to tackle, especially with the skill players were facing on a week-to-week basis,” Graham said. “These guys are pretty dynamic. The offenses are trying to get them in space to create angles in the run game. trying to create space in both run and in the pass. And it’s important for us to be able to get these guys on the ground. That’s the main focus, aside from limiting points, we got to be able to get the ball carriers on the ground. So, that all goes into the evaluation process for all of them.”

Bennett will need to continue to grow, but this early experience is a great sign that he could be a vital player for Las Vegas in the long term.