Raiders: Looking closely at cornerbacks in the combine

DeMarcus Van Dyke lining up vs the 49ers during the pre-season - 8/20/11.

The Oakland Raiders will be looking closely at cornerbacks at the NFL combine, but as many as 12 defensive backs could be off the board within the first two rounds.

Stanford Routt was released, Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke are projects and may not be as treasured by the new regime. Chris Johnson could be another defender on the chopping block. For a defensive backfield that was one of the worst in the league, the Raiders sure do have a mess in the secondary.

Yeah, they are options in free-agency, but with Oakland in a financial straight-jacket, solid drafting and getting lucky in the bargain-bin of free-agency will be imperative in getting the back-end of the defense in order.

What makes fixing the secondary more important is the pass-happy nature the league is currently in. Big athletic corners who can potentially line-up in man coverage are the rave.

It’s been known for years that Oakland loves to add speed and put an emphasis on measurables. With Reggie McKenzie leading the scouting that will change. But one thing won’t is the Raiders desire to get defenders in the secondary that have the prowess to cover wide receivers all by themselves.

That will be hard without a first or second round selection, so insightful inspection of these mid-round prospects and the observational talents of McKenzie will be on display right off the bat.

Asa Jackson from Cal-Poly sits below the top-10 or 12 cornerbacks atop the draft. Beyond being from a small school, a pedestrian Senior Bowl and tackling are issues many worry about.

But he’s a dual-threat as a special teamer and athletic ball-hawking abilities.

Shaun Prater is a tough corner who is a very hard worker, small-school prospect Dwight Bentley has the potential to be a steal with his ball-skills and Micah Pellerin, who has the size, smarts and leadership traits Dennis Allen wants, are just some prospects that the Raiders will have to decide from when they pick later in the draft.

It may take more than one off-season to fix the secondary. But a few things will surely help:

Management’s ability to draft well and a return to rushing the passer with their very youthful ends [Lamarr Houston & Matt Shaughnessy] and disruptive veteran tackles [Richard Seymour & Tommy Kelly].


Author: Staff Writer

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