Despite the addition of free agent Damarious Randall, the Las Vegas Raiders are still looking to add depth at the safety position. We look at what the Raiders draft plans may be when it comes to drafting a young defender.
As Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said during his pre-draft press conference, depth and the addition of young talent behind established starters is vital to future success. It’s clearly part of the Raiders draft strategy heading into the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Raiders made progress this offseason addressing their defensive holes including on the back end. Despite getting better at safety with Randall and Jeff Heath, Mayock and Jon Gruden know Randall could be a one-year rental. As such, it makes sense for them to look at possible additions to their defensive backfield.
Here’s a look at my Raiders Draft targets at safety through each round.
Round 1 – Grant Delpit, LSU
- High football IQ helps him anticipate plays.
- Tough Physical player that will layout a receiver or reroute a TE in coverage.
- Can blitz from the safety position at a high level.
- Quick feet allow him to avoid traffic in both coverage and blitz packages,
- Tackling is an issue as he will try to knock a runner out instead of wrap up and tackle.
- Doesn’t take the best pursuit angle when trailing a play.
- Drop off from 2018, how much was that due to the ankle injury?
After the 2018 season, Delpit was a sure-fire Top 10 pick. Inconsistent play and an ankle injury led to a disappointing 2019 season. If you get the Delpit from last year, he is a star safety for years to come. In a muddled safety class, each team will have a different player at the top of their board. For me, the upside of Delpit is head and shoulders above anyone else.
Round 3 – Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
- Plays with his hair on fire on every play.
- Athletic and Physical enough to cover TE.
- Good ball skills with the play in front of him leading to fumbles and pass breakups.
- Size is an issue for teams looking for a full-time safety.
- Has too many busts in coverage.
- Has a tendency to overrun plays.
Gilman is the classic overachiever. He’s not big enough and not fast enough but somehow finds ways to make plays every week. He will definitely have to overcome some concentration issues but his physicality will give him opportunities to see the field. He will be a star on special teams which should give him the time in the league to grow into a starting safety.
Round 4 – Julian Blackmon, Utah
- Former corner has great hands and ball skills.
- Tough player not scared to make a hit.
- Excellent in run support closes out quickly.
- Often takes bad angles in pursuit.
- Has trouble making transitions, sloppy feet causes him to lose ground.
- Knee injury in December could hurt his already weak long speed
Blackmon is still learning the position after his switch from CB. His hands and ball skills are a plus for a safety, but his trouble in coverage shows up too often. A demon against the run, Blackmon will have the opportunity to work on his coverage skills which, if improved, would make him at least a rotational safety. The knee injury causes some concern which is why he is available in this round and a possible late Raiders draft pick.
Round 5 – Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland
- Smooth footwork both coming forward and in backpedal.
- Excellent instincts, former QB who can read plays presnap.
- A well-built player who isn’t scared to hit somebody.
- Tries to make too many plays outside of structure.
- Lack of ball skills makes it difficult to challenge throws.
- Not the most agile which leading to missed tackles.
Brooks is a developmental prospect that has interesting skills. The lack of a set position has hurt his growth, played both LB and S. He has good instincts but needs to learn to play in structure more often. Another player who can be a star special teamer while he works on the issues keeping him from being a starting safety. If the Raiders draft a safety late, he’s worth taking a flyer on.
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