The Las Vegas Raiders are coming off a 2020 season where they ranked 26th in the NFL in total pass defense and were tied for 23rd in the league with just 10 interceptions.
But Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is bullish about what his secondary could be able to accomplish this fall.
“I’m fired up about the secondary,” Gruden said, via W.G. Ramirez of the Associated Press. “It should be a strength of ours. If it isn’t, we’ve made some real mistakes.”
The Raiders have used eight draft picks on their secondary over the last three seasons. Three defensive backs were drafted by the team in this year’s NFL Draft with a fourth, Divine Deablo, being moved to linebacker. Safeties Trevon Moehrig (2nd round) and Tyree Gillespie (4th round) and cornerback Nate Hobbs (5th round) join the secondary from this year’s class. Cornerback Damon Arnette (1st round), safety Tanner Muse (3rd round) and cornerback Amik Robertson (4th round) are entering their second seasons with the Raiders, and safety Jonathan Abram (1st round), cornerback Trayvon Mullen (2nd round) and cornerback Isaiah Johnson (4th round) are entering year three.
Four of their eight draft picks in the secondary have come from the first two rounds of the draft. That’s a lot of draft capital spent on the back end of the defense.
The team also added Casey Heyward Jr. in free agency this offseason and re-signed safety Karl Joseph after he spent one season with the Cleveland Browns.
The Raiders have plenty of options to throw at their secondary. Gruden’s hoping there will be a collection they can put together that will stick and elevate the play of the unit overall.
“If I am a Raider fan, I’m coming out here watching practice,” Gruden said. “I’m going to keep a close eye on this secondary.”