There’s talented youth at several spots in the Raiders secondary. Gareon Conley looks like the real deal, and should be a long-term solution at cornerback.
Daryl Worley’s a restricted free agent, but is expected to return. He plays the physical coverage Paul Guenther prefers, and will continue to develop at such a young age. Nick Nelson’s in the mix for a slot cornerback slot as well entering his second season, though some depth/competition’s required there.
Karl Joseph made great strides toward the end of last season, and could play an important, physical role for coaches who can play to his strengths and minimize effects of a lack of height.
A ballhawk safety’s missing from the crew. Or, even better yet, a versatile player who can man several spots as a safety.
[RELATED: Raiders defensive depth chart: Upgrades mandatory at several key spots]
That’s why the Raiders must be thrilled to have Delaware’s Nasir Adderley on the Senior Bowl’s North squad. Jon Gruden and staff are coaching that side, and will get a long look at him during the practice week.
The Raiders will keep a close eye on their safeties and some on the South side, as they try to decide whether to draft one or signed a veteran in free agency. There’s a vacancy in the secondary, and there are some top safety options at the Senior Bowl.
Will one of these guys below fill it?
Nasir Adderley, Delaware, 5-11, 200 pounds
Adderley will be watched closely during Senior Bowl week to see if his performance against big-school competition matches excellent game tape from his career at Delaware. Analysts say he has great range, plays aggressive and physical and can play everywhere including single-high safety.
He has experience playing cornerback as well and can cover most receiving positions well. He can take on blocks and tackle well, and always hustles. That sounds like a coach’s dream.
Might the Raiders find a spot for him with one of their higher picks? An early selection will be required if he impresses, as expected, during the pre-draft process.
Projected: Early rounds
Marquis Blair, Utah, 6-2, 195
This big safety can really run and shows great range in the open field, something the Raiders could use in their secondary. He’ll have to show well for Gruden’s North squad at the Senior Bowl, especially in man coverage and in making plays on the ball while playing a deep safety.
He’s an intriguing talent worth watching.
Projected: Middle rounds
Darnell Savage, Maryland, 5-11, 191
Savage is on the North squad during Senior Bowl week, and will have no problem flashing athleticism. He has that in spades. He has to show good decision making playing deep, an issue when he was at school.
He can be a heavy hitter as well, but has to show restraint at times to make a proper play over a spectacular one.
Projected: Middle rounds
There are two safeties from the 49ers’ South squad worth keep an eye on, as talents who could go higher in the draft:
Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 6-1, 195
This high IQ safety plays disciplined and smart football, which helped him collect six interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2018. He has experience playing cornerback as well, and can be versatile weapon.
His media draft evaluations vary, but the Raiders will get to see him up close at the Senior Bowl.
Projected: Early, middle rounds
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State 6-0, 210 pounds
He’s more of an enforcer than an attractive deep safety. He is solid playing in the box, but might be a bit too close to Joseph’s skill set to draw strong interest unless the Raiders are looking for an upgrade there.
Projected: Early, iddle rounds