Many of the latest offseason moves by the Las Vegas Raiders have centered around the offensive line. They switched it up on Wednesday and revealed that they’re bringing in another veteran cornerback. The team announced the signing of veteran cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.
Wreh-Wilson’s most recent stop saw him playing for the Atlanta Falcons over the last five seasons. Notably, he led the team with three interceptions last season despite not technically starting a single game. The main reason the Raiders likely signed him at this juncture is that he has experience playing in the slot.
The team cut LaMarcus Joyner earlier in the offseason, which has left a hole at nickel cornerback. 2020 draft pick Amik Robertson was supposed to take over that role eventually but he may end up being better suited to play on the outside. Casey Hayward also can play in the slot but will likely stay on the outside. Damon Arnette could also be an option but the Raiders used a first-round pick on him. Draft picks that high aren’t usually used on slot cornerbacks. Wreh-Wilson has a real shot at making the roster if he can impress in the slot.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Raiders Secondary Ranked Among Worst in NFL
Last season, the Raiders’ secondary was dreadful. Trayvon Mullen was the only defensive back who showed signs of life but even he struggled at times. Johnathan Abram was all over the place, Arnette clearly wasn’t ready to be a starter and LaMarcus Joyner was not equipped to play in the slot. Heading into this season, things are looking better. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has a great track record of forming really great secondaries. The team also added Casey Hayward in free agency and Trevon Moehrig in the draft. Both of those guys could be difference-makers.
However, not everybody is sold that the Raiders have improved much in the secondary. Pro Football Focus ranked the group as the 29th best in the NFL:
Las Vegas’ secondary projects to be one of the youngest units in the league. 2019 draft selections Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram are the “experienced” members of a projected starting lineup that also includes 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette at cornerback and 2021 second-round pick Trevon Moehrig at free safety. The Raiders need to see improvement out of each of Mullen, Abram and Arnette in 2021. That holds especially true for Abram (PFF’s lowest-graded safety last season) and Arnette (sixth-lowest graded cornerback last season). Casey Hayward Jr. — the lone veteran with an opportunity to start — is coming off a career-low 59.5 overall grade in 2020.
Will Raiders’ Secondary Be Better Than PFF Indicates?
It’s fair that PFF would rate the Raiders’ secondary so low. The team has fielded some of the worst defensive backfields in the NFL over several years now. Last year, the group was not good at all and the plan appears to be mostly to run it back.
That said, the young group of cornerbacks and safeties could surprise the NFL. Las Vegas has plenty of talent. The secondary is littered with first and second-round picks. These guys can play, they just haven’t been able to put it all together. With Bradley at the helm of the defense, it’s possible that they all improve greatly.