The most important position group for the Las Vegas Raiders this season will be the secondary. The team has tried so many things to fix their pass defense issues and have had no luck. In 2019, the team used a first-round pick on Johnathan Abram and a second-round pick on Trayvon Mullen. Last year, they used a first-round pick on Damon Arnette. While Mullen has shown some really strong flashes, Abram and Arnette have played very poorly.
The Raiders have a new defensive coordinator in town in Gus Bradley who has no loyalty to any of the returning players. He’s going to prop up the players who perform at the highest level. General manager Mike Mayock isn’t mincing words and had some stern words for all of the team’s young defensive backs.
“Let’s face it, on the back end, we’ve put some draft capital on there,” Mayock said on Raider Nation Radio, via The Athletic. “Damon Arnette, first-round pick; Trayvon Mullen, second-round pick, Johnathan Abram, first-round pick; Isaiah [Johnson], fourth-round pick; Amik [Robertson], fourth-round pick … they need to grow up. [Defensive backs coach Ron Milus] has a great history and we believe that, between he and Gus, we’re going to have an opportunity that these kids mature and we get a bounce in their productivity.”
Mayock is a man of his word. He called out P.J. Hall last offseason and the young defensive tackle didn’t last with the team much longer. Every single Raiders defensive back should be feeling the heat this year, regardless of their draft status.
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Mayock Stresses Importance of Availability
A big problem with the Raiders’ young defensive backs is that they haven’t played enough. Abram missed 15 games as a rookie and another three last season. Arnette only suited up in nine games as a rookie. Mullen is the most durable of the group as he hasn’t missed a single game in two seasons. Mayock made it very clear that he needs these guys to play.
“Availability is huge in this industry, and some of our defensive backs have not been available,” Mayock said.
He also put them all on notice with some blunt comments.
“These (young) guys all know they are at risk,” Mayock said.
Mayock isn’t being subtle here. The Raiders need to fix their pass defense and aren’t afraid to move off of players just because they’re first or second-round picks. It’s going to be a very important season for Abram and Arnette.
Mayock Talks Casey Hayward Signing
In case the young defensive back continues to struggle, the Raiders were able to add an insurance policy in Casey Hayward. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who just spent the last four years getting coached by Bradley. Mayock had a chance to talk about the signing.
“We knew we had a little bit of a need at corner, and we especially wanted a veteran corner,” Mayock said. “When Casey Hayward became available, we got him on the phone right away, as a matter of fact Gus Bradley and I called him together. Milo and Gus have a great relationship with him.
“The fit was established. He wanted to come here. It was just about, could we scrape a couple of dollars together to get where we needed to get to to get him. He wanted to wait until after the draft and we agreed with it. And then, as soon as the draft ended, he was the first phone call.”
Hayward is still a solid cornerback despite being 31-years-old. If Arnette isn’t cutting it, he’ll lose his starting job to the veteran.