The Las Vegas Raiders have done a lot to beef up their defense this offseason but there are still question marks heading into the season. Over the last two seasons, LaMarcus Joyner was supposed to be a shutdown slot cornerback for the team. They paid him good money to man that position. He ended up struggling greatly and was cut this offseason.
The Raiders signed Casey Hayward late in the offseason and it was speculated that he could move to the slot. However, it sounds like the plan is for him to stay on the outside. 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette could move to the slot but there’s no telling if he’ll do well in that position. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report named slot cornerback as the Raiders’ biggest hole heading into training camp and even named a couple of players the team can still sign:
Nevin Lawson, Amik Robertson, and fifth-round rookie Nate Hobbs will likely battle for that spot, with Arnette potentially joining that competition. It’s hard to get excited about any of them, and the Raiders might lose patience at a position that has been problematic for them in recent years.
If that happens, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock should call up Brian Poole and Steven Nelson.
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Poole Would Be a Strong Pickup
This late in the offseason, it’s quite surprising that Poole hasn’t been signed yet. He’s been one of the NFL’s better slot cornerbacks for years. He missed seven games due to injury last season so that could be a factor regarding why a team hasn’t signed him. It also doesn’t help that the salary cap was lower this year. We’ve seen former Pro Bowlers like Melvin Ingram, Geno Atkins and Kawann Short sit in free agency for long periods of time.
With the Raiders about to kick off training camp, they’ll soon get a really good idea of where they stand at slot cornerback. If things aren’t looking good, the team should strongly consider giving Poole a call. He’s likely inexpensive at this point and is a proven difference-maker in the slot.
Steven Nelson is also solid in the slot and could be a good fit. However, according to NFL insider John Clayton, Nelson is likely returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers soon.
Can Amik Robertson Take Over the Slot Cornerback Spot?
When the Raiders drafted Amik Robertson in the 2020 NFL Draft, the expectation was that he was going to be groomed to take over as the team’s slot cornerback. He didn’t get off to a great start last season as he was having a hard time transitioning from previously playing on the outside. He’s now become a bit of an afterthought.
It will be interesting to see how Roberston develops this season. He has a very strong work ethic and really wants to do well. He was considered a steal when the Raiders drafted him. There’s still plenty of time for him to prove those people right.