The Las Vegas Raiders had an incredibly busy offseason and revamped a number of areas on the defense. However, the addition of former first-round pick Damarious Randall hasn’t been talked about all that much. He hasn’t lived up to his status as a first-round pick and didn’t have his best season last year but hasn’t been bad by any means. He should be an upgrade over what the team fielded at safety last season.
With Johnathan Abram slated to return after missing 15 games due to injury, the Raiders could see a big boost in safety play this season. General Manager Mike Mayock feels like Randall is going to pair up really nicely with Abram and also talked about other additions at safety.
“What I believe is that he could be a wonderful complement to John Abram,” Mayock said on Wednesday. “We’re going to pair [Abram] with Damarious and Erik Harris, and we think Damarious can bring some athletic ability where he can drop down and cover the slot. So, we think there’s a potential pairing there that could be exciting, but don’t forget about Erik Harris, he’s played some good football for us. We signed Jeff Heath who started for the Dallas Cowboys, so again, this is all about creating competition throughout our team and especially on defense.”
It sounds like the expectation is for Randall and Abram to start but don’t sleep on Heath. He was a starter for a solid Cowboys defense. Abram is pretty much a lock to start, but the other safety spot could be up for grabs if Randall falters at all.
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Mayock Praises Randall
Coming out of college, there was plenty of hype surrounding Randall’s potential in the NFL. In fact, Mayock has a history of being really high on Randall.
“When I was back in television, doing the draft rankings and everything, I had [Randall] ranked as the number one free safety coming out of college football that year,” Mayock said. “He had played a lot of corner and people were split on where he should play in the NFL. When I called him for the first time in the offseason about signing him as a free agent, the first thing I did was remind him to go check my old college ranking and see where I had him. He started laughing and said, ‘Mayock I know exactly where you had me, that’s why we’re on the phone right now.'”
Now, considering Pro Bowler Landon Collins and other solid safeties like Adrian Amos and Anthony Harris were in that draft class, it could be that Mayock didn’t have his most luck evaluating the position that year. However, Randall could certainly find new life in Las Vegas. The Raiders love bringing in former first-round picks and will certainly try to give him the tools to succeed. The team has struggled greatly in pass defense over the last several years and could use a player like Randall, who is pretty good at creating turnovers.