The Raiders will need a new secondary coach. Derrick Ansley is leaving for the University of Tennessee, 24/7 Sports reported on Friday afternoon.
That’s a blow to the Silver and Black, who were happy with Ansley’s work during his one season with the team’s young defensive backs.
He’s headed back to the college ranks after one year in the NFL. He came to the Raiders from Alabama, with previous stops at Kentucky and Tennessee.
He reunites with new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, whom he worked with in separate teams in Alabama.
Tennessee fans are excited over Ansley’s addition, but it leaves the Raiders with an important vacancy on the coaching staff.
Senior defensive assistant Jim O’Neill spent last year coaching safeties and could take over the entire secondary. Or perhaps the Raiders could look outside for Ansley’s replacement.
Some Raiders fans are trying to link Charles Woodson’s announced departure from ESPN with the team’s vacancy at defensive backs coach, but there’s nothing to connect those dots at this time.
The coach who takes over the position will be tasked with developing Gareon Conley, Nick Nelson and Daryl Worley, who is expected to return as a restricted free agent.
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The Raiders could also add to the cornerback spot, and need a free safety to challenge or assume that starting spot.
The Raiders continued fleshing out their secondary on Friday agreeing on terms of a contract with safety Curtis Riley, a source said. The former New York Giant visited the team’s Alameda facility on Thursday and left without a deal, but he ended up taking the Raiders offer despite interest from other teams.
Riley hinted at a pact on Twitter, saying he was coming to the Bay Area. He’ll exchange coasts after starting all 16 games at free safety with last year’s Giants. He had 75 tackles, four interceptions and five pass breakups for that squad.
He’ll have an opportunity to play significant snaps in the Raiders secondary. High-priced free-agent signing Lamarcus Joyner is also a free safety but is expected to play slot cornerback regularly in 2019, likely shuttling back and forth between positions.
Riley could step in as the free safety in sub packages that defenses spend significant time in nowadays. Erik Harris will compete for that role opposite strong safety Karl Joseph.
The Raiders have options in the secondary now, with the aforementioned safeties and depth at cornerback. Gareon Conley’s a virtual lock to start at one outside cornerback spot. Daryl Worley’s expected to return on a second-round free-agent tender, through Thursday’s signing Nevin Lawson will compete for time there as well. Last year’s fourth-round pick Nick Nelson will have to fight for time with this new defensive back depth chart.
The Raiders could well draft another defensive back as well, especially if a good one slips and becomes a great value pick.
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News of Riley’s agreement should excite quarterback Derek Carr. Riley’s a fellow Fresno State alum and was teammates with Carr in 2013.
The Raiders also had interest in George Iloka, who played with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in Cincinnati. Iloka visited the Raiders complex Thursday but left without a deal and scheduled other visits.
The Raiders hope Rodney Hudson plays every single offensive snap in 2019. He might be the league’s best center, and is the unquestioned leader along the offensive front.
They need a Plan B, even if they never hope to use it. Jon Feliciano was the primary reserve at guard and center, leaving a void upon signing with the Buffalo Bills.
Jordan Devey will fill it. The former Kansas City Chief signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Thursday, the team announced, adding depth and versatility to an overhauled front.
Devey spent parts of five NFL seasons with New England, the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, primarily as a reserve guard. He played more center over the past two seasons, and has some tackle work on his resume. Devey finished last season on injured reserve with a pectoral issue
Offensive line coach Tom Cable prizes versatility, especially with a need on the inside. Second-year pro Brandon Parker is expected to be a swing tackle.
Kolton Miller and Trent Brown will be starting tackles, with Hudson at center. Gabe Jackson and Denzelle Good look like starting guards at this time.
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Devey was clean cut Thursday when signing with the Raiders, but he rocked a pretty serious mullet last season in Kansas City.