It’s safe to say that the secondary wasn’t a position of strength for the Raiders in 2019.
Las Vegas’ defensive backfield was bottom-10 in the league in passing yards and touchdowns allowed, as well as interceptions.
It’s nearly impossible to become a playoff team in the NFL without a secondary that can keep your team in the game, especially when your division necessitates two matchups a year with the rocket arm of former MVP Patrick Mahomes.
Las Vegas is expected to add a potential starter in the secondary with one of the team’s two first-round picks (No. 12, No. 19), but there’s still valuable depth available on the free-agent market, as Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox writes.
"The Las Vegas Raiders have done an excellent job this offseason of addressing their pass defense, which ranked 25th in 2019. They signed safeties Jeff Heath and Damarious Randall and added coverage linebacker Cory Littleton.
Still, the Raiders could afford to add more veteran depth in the secondary ahead of the draft. And former Bengals corner Darqueze Dennard could be a perfect fit as a rotational defensive back."
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Dennard was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, when now-Raiders coach Paul Guenther was the defensive coordinator there. General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden have embraced a Guenther project before, as linebacker Vontaze Burfict also began his career with the Bengals and Guenther.
While Dennard never quite lived up to the production that typically comes with a No. 24 overall pick, we’ve seen in recent years that Cincinnati isn’t the most proficient organization in the league when it comes to development of talent.
But Dennard has a plethora of experience as a nickel cornerback and would provide some depth for a group integrating a lot of new pieces in 2020.
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Bringing in a second defender with an established familiarity in Guenther’s schemes and terminology would only stand to help the younger players.
Dennard reportedly had a three-year agreement with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the works, but the two sides ultimately couldn’t come to a deal.
The Michigan State product won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s top defensive back in 2013, and was a universally-regarded first-round pick for a reason.
Perhaps a change of scenery and reuniting with an old coach could be the spark that unlocks Dennard’s potential.