Raiders

NFL Draft 2020: Raiders can find plug-and-play cornerback in first round

NFL Draft 2020: Raiders can find plug-and-play cornerback in first round

The Raiders entered this offseason hoping to secure the services of a shutdown cornerback. They haven’t done that yet, though it wasn’t for lack of effort.

They backed up the Brinks truck for Byron Jones and offered Chris Jones Jr. a decent sum. They poked around on a Darius Slay trade. They didn’t get any of those guys.

They agreed on terms with Eli Apple as an alternate plan, but even that deal fell apart. They signed Damarious Randall, but the initial expectation is that he’ll play free safety.

So Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock enter the 2020 NFL Draft looking to satisfy a pressing need that exists despite their affinity for 2019 fourth-rounder Isaiah Johnson.

They have two first-round picks -- Nos. 12 and 19 -- to acquire a cornerback they can plug in and play outside opposite Trayvon Mullen. There’s a belief among NFL draft experts that there aren’t many instant impact cornerbacks available, so it may take a high pick to get one.

Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah falls decisively into that category, but there’s no way in holy heck he lasts until the Raiders pick. The Raiders could possibly trade up to get him -- our Josh Schrock thinks the Raiders should do that -- but it would take significant capital to get high enough and might not be worth the expense.

So let’s eliminate Okudah as an option and focus on players the Raiders could realistically get where they’re currently slotted:

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No. 12 overall

CJ Henderson, Florida (6-feet, 204 pounds): The former Gator probably is the only cornerback considered worthy of the No. 12 pick, provided Okudah is off the board as expected. Henderson certainly is a step above every other draft prospect, with the size, length and athleticism to be a respected NFL cornerback.

He challenges routes and is a competitive sort, which the Raiders would like. He has experience playing both man and zone but is a top tier press-man prospect, and that fits what the Raiders are looking for. The rare knocks, per draft analysts, are that he’s not a great run defender, not a sure tackler and he doesn’t have elite ball skills, but his work ethic suggests he could develop in those areas.

[RELATED: Why Raiders trading up for Jeff Okudah is perfect move]

No. 19 overall

Trevon Diggs, Alabama (6-foot-1, 205 pounds): The former member of the Crimson Tide secondary has elite size, length and strength for the position. Stefon Diggs’ younger brother has competitive drive to spare and has experience in a press-man scheme. He got better with technique and discipline but still has room to grow. He already has excellent ball skills, analysts say, with an ability to jump routes and defend passes.

Jaylon Johnson, Utah (6 feet, 193 pounds): The former Ute is built for press coverage, which may be enticing for the Raiders. He has the size and length to play tough at the line of scrimmage and delay timing of receiver routes. He also can play off, armed with the anticipation and ball skills to break up passes. He’s also a good communicator and has good leaping ability on deep balls. There’s development left to be made, analysts say, especially when the ball’s on its away, and that he can struggle against precise, elite route runners. He’s still projected as a quality NFL starter, which the Raiders definitely need. The Raiders might still be able to snag him and trade down in the first round, getting a good corner and an extra selection or two.

A.J. Terrell, Clemson (6-foot-1, 195 pounds): The Raiders already have one starting cornerback from Clemson. Why not two? Mullen showed proficiency running the Raiders scheme, so there’s reason to believe Terrell could do the same. He struggled mightily in the national title game versus LSU, but there’s plenty of good tape out there. He’s another press-man cornerback who can close in open space and make plays on the ball. He’s good working deep, but overall there’s improvement to be made in several areas and he might not qualify as the plug and play right away cornerback the Raiders need.

Others worth consideration: Kristian Fulton, LSU, Jeff Gladney, TCU

Why versatile rookie Lynn Bowden could be Raiders’ secret weapon

Why versatile rookie Lynn Bowden could be Raiders’ secret weapon

Word of warning to anyone wondering how the Raiders are preparing to utilize rookie Lynn Bowden this season: Don’t bother asking him. He isn’t at liberty to say.

“I’m really not permitted to speak about that right now,” Bowden said while taking a break from the Raiders virtual OTA’s.

The mum’s the word response wasn’t relayed out of anger or deceit. The outgoing Bowden can’t wait to get on the field in his first NFL season and is beyond excited to help the Raiders anyway he can. He’s open and frank about all that and doesn’t mind expressing it one bit.

Read more on Las Vegas Review-Journal

Trayvon Mullen has Drew Brees, Saints on bulletin board after comments

Trayvon Mullen has Drew Brees, Saints on bulletin board after comments

The New Orleans Saints' visit to Las Vegas on September 21 already was set to be a marquee game in the NFL with the Raiders set to debut Allegiant Stadium for the first time on "Monday Night Football."

The matchup with Drew Brees got another layer Wednesday after the Saints quarterback said he still saw players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence as "disrespecting the flag." Brees' comments came while millions of citizens across the country protest police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody. Brees posted a photo on Instagram supporting the Black Lives Matter movement Tuesday and then promptly showed he still didn't understand why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the national anthem back in 2016.

As Brees' comments circulated, Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen made it known he's looking forward to facing Brees now more than ever with offensive tackle Trent Brown echoing the feeling.

Brees offered an apology for his "insensitive" comments Thursday saying he "missed the mark." While some have accepted Brees' apology, many around the NFL and sports world saw it as an apology for being dragged mercilessly on Twitter and television and not for his actual statement.

The conversation around Kaepernick's protest and taking a knee during the anthem has been reignited after Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died in police custody after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. A video showed Floyd telling Chauvin and three other officers who were watching that he couldn't breathe and asking for Chauvin to let up. It was later announced Floyd had died in police custody. Chauvin was arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree muder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers were arrested Wednesday and have been charged with aiding and abetting in both cases.

Kaepernick started taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 as a way to protest police brutality and systemic racism. He chose to take a knee in protest after a discussion with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret, because he wanted to make sure he was protesting in a respectful manner. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016.

Citizens have marched in protests in cities across American since Floyd's death, looking to put an end to police brutality and systemic racism. A number of NFL players have spoken out since Floyd's death, with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr vowing to no longer stick to sports as he tries to unite people.

[RELATED: Littleton, Kwiatkoski vital to Raiders' defensive renaissance]

Brees' comments drew warranted criticism from across the sports world, with fans, peers and teammates all chiming in to tell Brees how wrong he was on the issue of kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

The Raiders need to get off to a fast start in order to breathe life into a push for the playoffs. Brees has owned the Raiders in his career, but the Silver and Black added a lot of talent to a defense that ranked 31st in DVOA last year. A defense that will be led by a rising star corner in Mullen, who has this game circled.

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