Raiders

Raiders

The Raiders have some quality cornerbacks on the roster, enough to fill out a lineup card.

Gareon Conley’s locked into a starting spot outside. Daryl Worley should occupy the other one, though veteran Nevin Lawson won’t take that lying down.

Head coach Jon Gruden considers newcomer Lamarcus Joyner a top option in the slot.

Nick Nelson will be available everywhere in reserve.

Gruden wants more at a premium position.

“I think you need five corners,” Gruden said. “I think you gotta have five because they do get banged up. It is a very difficult position to play and sometimes you want to play three or four at a time.”

You’ve read five names to this point, but Joyner will play a significant amount of free safety and will have that position on his football card.

There’s another reason why the Raiders could go for another cornerback in this upcoming NFL draft, possibly with one of four picks in the top 35 overall: Their top outside options have trouble staying healthy.

“We are still looking,” Gruden said. “Getting Conley healthy and playing to his potential is priority No. 1. We got to see it 16 weeks now from Gary. He flickered some and did some really good things last year but he didn't finish healthy, which is a concern. Worley started really good, got hurt. We need 16 outings from him. Lawson can play nickel, he can play outside. He has been healthy. That is what I love about Lawson. He doesn't miss any action.”

 

Lawson has been a full-time starter for three seasons now, and will expect that run to continue even after signing relatively late to a team with returning starters.

Gruden wants further depth, but could absolutely go for an upgrade at a position with 2019 options but few long-term solutions. Conley’s going to be around for a while, but Worley and Lawson will work on one-year contracts. The jury’s out on Nelson, a fourth-round pick last season who played catch-up after a pre-draft knee injury.

You’ll see mock drafts aplenty attaching cornerbacks to the Raiders at No. 24 or 27, where some quality cover guys should be available. There isn’t an agreed-upon order the cornerback prospects will go in, so everyone from Georgia’s Deandre Baker, LSU’s Greedy Williams, Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin and Washington’s Byron Murphy could make it to the 20s.

“We are looking for another corner,” Gruden said.

The Raiders have had boots on the ground doing that. It is known defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil was at Kentucky and Washington to see prospects, and he saw several quality options while coaching the Senior Bowl.

Versatile safety Nasir Adderley of Delaware was there and showed well. So did Maryland’s Darnell Savage. O'Neil saw Washington safety Taylor Rapp up close along with Murphy.

[RELATED: Here's where Raiders' defense stands at 2019 season approaches]

The draft could provide long-term solutions and competition right away as the Raiders figure out which cornerbacks are worthy of sticking around, and whether Conley can stay healthy enough to reach his grand potential.