During the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders were able to find two good cornerback prospects in Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson. The team had a huge need at the position and weren’t able to address it in free agency. They now have two experienced college prospects who will probably see the field early and often. However, the team wasn’t done adding cornerbacks.
Southern Illinois football announced that the Raiders are signing cornerback Madre Turner.
Harper originally played for Oklahoma State and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He saw a little time on the field as a freshman for one of the top college football programs in the country. Unfortunately, Harper violated team rules and was suspended then later dismissed. The reasons for his dismissal were never revealed by the team.
He then transferred to Southern Illinois. For his senior season, Harper received honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. He recorded 12 pass breakups with 42 tackles during his last season.
Analysis of Harper
Based on his dismissal from Oklahoma State, there are probably some character concerns with Harper. That said, it’s hard not to get excited about his intangibles. He’s got 4.42 speed and he’s tall at 6’2. He definitely fits the profile of what the Raiders like from their cornerbacks. In an analysis of Harper, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein praised Harper’s athletism:
“In the evaluation of Harper, the plus column is filled with physical traits and descriptions of athletic explosiveness. The minus column is populated with all things related to technique, instincts and overall coverage savvy. The bottom line is that Harper has outstanding size and speed to go along with rare length as a cornerback. He will need to be enrolled in ‘Technique 101’ in order to learn fundamentals and work on the nuances of the position. He has a chance to become an early practice squad candidate.”
Harper has all of the physical attributes you want to see in an NFL cornerback. Last year, the Raiders signed cornerback Keisean Nixon as an undrafted free agent. He ended up making the team and became a special teams standout. Harper has a lot of work to do if he’s going to make the team, but Las Vegas is really good to undrafted free agents. He should fit in well with Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson, who both share very similar athletic traits.
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Raiders Are Incredibly Young on Defense
The Raiders are clearly embracing a youth movement on defense. Based on who the projected starters will be, Damarious Randall would be the oldest one at age 28 when the season starts.
The team will be even younger at cornerback. Trayvon Mullen is 22 and he’ll definitely be one of the starters. Damon Arnette will likely win the other starting job and he’ll be 24 when the season starts. If Amik Roberston beats out LaMarcus Joyner as the nickel corner, the team will have a 21-year-old playing at that spot. The Raiders are putting a lot of pressure on their youth. That strategy worked through the first 10 games of last season, but eventually blew up in their face. Time will tell if the strategy has more success in 2020.