Oakland Raiders draft outlook: Secondary

Safety Tyvon Branch making a play in the secondary

Safety Tyvon Branch making a play in the secondary

In this first installment of SBReport’s draft outlook for the Oakland Raiders, we will look at the secondary and the moves done there in the off-season and whether or not the Silver & Black will add to a unit that ranked 10th in the league versus the pass in 2008.

Signing Nnamdi Asomugha to the richest deal ever for a cornerback and locking up his mate on the other side of the formation, Chris Johnson, has put the Raiders in a position to focus solely at the back end of the secondary come draft time. Their ability to cover will not be in doubt. But this secondary’s aptitude in run support and provide big plays at the back end will.

Gibril Wilson was released after one season in the Bay area, so the Raiders will look to add a safety that can play around the line of scrimmage and be a sure tackler versus the run. Michael Huff is still around, but when will he ever show that he was worth being selected with the 7th overall choice in the 2006 draft?

Huff is physically gifted and may still have a shot to prove his worth to this unit with a new defensive coordinator in place. But he is no enforcer and the Raiders will need that in 2009. Hiram Eugene has a few starts under his belt, but he is at best a back up and not the type of player you want to run out there for a lot of reps over the course of a season.

So in the draft, the Raiders must look to improve this unit. Tyvon Branch shined early in on 2008 and is highly regarded still by Tom Cable and Raider personnel. And he will be given a shot to play in the secondary. But at this point, he may be more valuable as a full time special teams contributor and extra defender off the bench.

DRAFT PROSPECTS TO WATCH:

Chip Vaughn, SS, Wake Forest

Adds size, bulk and toughness with his tackling ability to the secondary. If Oakland wants to get tougher, Vaughn will be able to inject that quickly into the defense. He’s moving up many draft boards, so the Raiders will have to make a move on him early on draft day to get him. Unlike Derrick Gibson, Vaughn is a playmaker and will be a force in the front-seven for whomever he plays for. Gibson, Oakland’s 28th selection in the 2001 draft, never materialized to be the enforcer they thought he would become. Considered a reach at draft time, out of the league after 2006, Gibson has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent Silver & Black drafts. Vaughn fits the Gibson mold in terms of what they need and what they thought they would get out of the former Florida State star. Vaughn will be everything that Gibson was not. The Raiders need a player of this skill set to add to a defense that has struggled since 2003 stopping the run at many levels of this defense.

Curtis Taylor, SS, L.S.U

Chris Clemons, SS, Clemson

Contact Author: Victor Cotto – SB Report Columnist

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