Las Vegas Raiders: 2021 makeover enough for weak secondary?

The Las Vegas Raiders recognized their secondary was an area of weakness in 2020. Was their makeover in 2021 enough to turn that unit around?

The Las Vegas Raiders have found out the (unfortunately) hard way that throwing primary offseason assets (draft capital and cash) at a problem area is not always the solution. What’s also unfortunate is that the Raiders haven’t really been able to strike gold on late-round guys, either, at least when it comes to the defensive backfield.

The Raiders’ secondary has been one of the worst in the league over the past few seasons with just nine interceptions from the cornerback position since 2018.

New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson had nine interceptions on his own in 2020.

The Las Vegas Raiders have poured one asset after another into the secondary over the past few seasons, and have still ranked dead last in the NFL in passing TDs allowed in 2018, 27th in 2019, and a merciful 16th in 2020.

Still, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock realize this is a problem area and they have once again taken steps to address it. Although a number of pieces remain intact for 2021, the Las Vegas Raiders took on another secondary makeover this offseason.

Las Vegas Raiders secondary makeover, 2021 edition

In addition to hoping that Gus Bradley can bring out the best in 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen, 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram, and 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette, the Las Vegas Raiders will be holding out hope for a plethora of new additions to pull through in some way or another in 2021.

Those new additions?

  • Safety Trevon Moehrig (2nd-round pick)
  • Cornerback Casey Hayward (free agent)
  • Safety Karl Joseph (free agent)
  • Safety Tyree Gillespie (4th-round pick)
  • Cornerback Nate Hobbs (5th-round pick)
  • Cornerback De’Vante Bausby (free agent)

Other players like former fourth-round picks Isaiah Johnson (2019) and Amik Robinson (2020) will have more chances to crack the rotation and provide the Raiders with some production on the back end that just hasn’t been there.

The symbiotic relationship between the pass rush and coverage unit has obviously also been an issue for the Raiders, who have struggled to produce in the sack department since trading Khalil Mack. No coincidence there.

The Raiders were 30th in the league in sacks per game in 2020, 26th in the league in sacks per game in 2019, and dead last in 2018.

Having a veteran like Casey Hayward could wind up being absolutely massive for this unit, but there is arguably no more important addition to this defense in 2021 than safety Trevon Moehrig, one of the best defensive backs in all of college football last season.

It’s not going to be easy for the Las Vegas Raiders to get the ship back on course with the secondary, but they certainly won’t fail here for lack of trying. Whether or not the scouting department and front office have made the right decisions with bringing in players like Trayvon Mullen — taken just one pick after budding star Sean Murphy-Bunting — or Damon Arnette — taken ahead of many players, not the least of which is Antoine Winfield Jr. — remains to be seen.

This is likely a multi-year reload for the Las Vegas Raiders in the secondary and the development of these young players under Gus Bradley will unquestionably take some time. Still, the team needs to see some instant production out of them, because at this point, jobs depend on it.