The Las Vegas Raiders have taken a much different approach to free agency this year. The team has foregone being big spenders in favor of adding young veterans on cheap contracts. It’s clear the team isn’t putting all of its eggs in the free agency basket and the draft will be where they will try to make substantial improvements.
In the meantime, the Raiders do need bodies, especially on defense. Cornerback was arguably the team’s biggest need outside of quarterback and hasn’t made any splash signings. Luckily, they were able to find a young player with some intriguing upside. According to Jordan Schultz of The Score, Las Vegas is signing cornerback David Long Jr. to a one-year contract.
Long spent the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams where he won a Super Bowl ring in 2021. He originally came into the league as a third-round pick and has played in 52 career games, including 10 starts. Long is just 25 years old so he could have some untapped potential. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to make an impact on the Raiders. Long isn’t the flashiest signing but it further proves that the team is trying to build with young players over older and expensive veterans.
Long a Better With Raiders Than Rams
The defense that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham inherited in 2021 was a zone-heavy scheme run by Gus Bradley. Graham likes to implement more man coverage, which is likely a big reason why the Raiders’ defense struggled last season. As Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Long was originally drafted to play man coverage but the Rams switched to a defensive coordinator who used more zone.
Long is now going to a team that’s going to play more man coverage. That will be a better fit for his skill set. Perhaps there’s still some untapped potential there that Graham can get out. Regardless, the Raiders simply need bodies on defense and Long provides that.
Raiders Projected to Draft CB
It is highly unlikely the Raiders are close to done adding cornerbacks. The group the team had last year struggled and they have yet to make clear improvements. That could be because they are waiting for the draft. There are some very good cornerback prospects that will be available to the Raiders in the first round and beyond.
In Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft for ESPN, he projects the Raiders to use their No. 7 pick to select Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez:
In this scenario, the Raiders don’t get any of the top four quarterbacks, forcing them to go with the best prospect available. They added the solid-but-unspectacular Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency, so it’s not like they have a void under center as big as the Colts, Texans and Panthers do. They also have a veteran roster, and you could argue they should try to win now.
The player who can most help them win in 2023 is Gonzalez, who ran a blazing 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the combine, backing up what I saw on his 2022 tape. At 6-foot-1, he has outstanding ball skills and elite recovery speed. This is a clear need area for Las Vegas.