Why Raiders' young secondary excites defensive backs coach for 2019


Why Raiders' young secondary excites defensive backs coach for 2019

Derrick Ansley is a grinder, someone who appreciates working with similar personality types. That’s why the Raiders secondary coach is looking forward to molding a group of young defensive backs expected to play major roles next season.

Cornerback Gareon Conley and strong safety Karl Joseph seem set to start next season. Daryl Worley should formally join that crew at outside corner opposite Conley this spring, when he’s expected to re-sign with the Raiders as a restricted free agent.

Nick Nelson’s also in the mix there. So is free safety Erik Harris – he’s technically an exclusive rights free agent set to return -- who finished the season strong often as the last line of defense.

The common thread: All of those guys have three years NFL experience or less.

That’s a solid group to build on in the back.

“All those guys are young, but the most important thing is they have an ear and an eye to get better,” Ansley told NBC Sports Bay Area at the end of the Senior Bowl practice week. "If you have guys who lock in and pay attention to details, that helps them grow.

"Our young defensive backs have ability. The only thing they’re lacking is experience. Some have more that others, but I believe those guys are headed in the right direction.”

It wasn’t clear Joseph was doing that early on. The 2016 first-round pick was buried on the depth chart, as low as the fourth safety through three weeks.

A hamstring injury at Miami ruined his season’s first half, but the West Virginia came on strong once he got healthy and grew within a hybrid role that often had him attacking in the box. Joseph was both aggressive and effective, becoming a defensive tone setter the secondary sorely lacked.

Ansley knows why that happened.

“Football means a lot to Karl,” Ansley said. “He puts a lot of time into his craft and, whether it’s in the meeting room, film room or practice field, he’s always trying to find the next thing needs to get better. If football really matters you work and work and work, things start to turn around. We saw what towards the end of the season with Karl.”

[RELATED: Ranking the Raiders' top five needs heading into free agency, NFL Draft]

The Raiders must add to this secondary with cornerback depth and a presumptive starter at free safety. That could come in the draft.

Alabama’s Deionte Thompson is often considered the NFL draft’s best safety, though Delaware’s Nasir Adderley impressed many, including the Raiders, with college tape and a solid Senior Bowl week. Maryland’s Darnell Savage also showed well, with the versatility many teams crave.

Someone coached by the Raiders during Senior Bowl week, including the last two prospects mentioned above, could help complete a secondary that seems to be on the rise if Ansley can continue to develop young talent.

Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension


Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension

The Raiders officially became property of Las Vegas on Wednesday, and the Silver and Black made their first official move as Sin City residents Thursday. 

The team announced they signed cornerback Nevin Lawson to a one-year contract extension. After joining the Raiders last offseason, Lawson made five starts and played in 11 games for the Raiders, seeing a bulk of his time in the latter stages of the season when Daryl Worley and Lamarcus Joyner were banged up. 

Lawson will enter next season serving a one-game suspension. The Utah State product was ejected late in the Raiders' Week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos and was given a punishment for using his helmet as a weapon.

[RELATED: Raiders can fill many holes with Senior Bowl prospects]

After opening the season 6-4, the Raiders, overcome by injuries and lack of talent, limped to a 1-5 finish to end the season at 7-9.

With the litany of issues the Silver and Black faced in 2019, 7-9 should be viewed as a good record for a team that relied on a dynamic rookie class.

There are a lot of reasons for the Raiders to believe the future is bright, and they hope Lawson is a part of it.

Las Vegas Raiders formally announce name change, dropping Oakland


Las Vegas Raiders formally announce name change, dropping Oakland

The Raiders started scrubbing Oakland from their name a few weeks back. Taking the city’s name off social media accounts was the most public step. Then, the team removed the word from the top of their Alameda training facility, where the organization will conduct business into July.

There were some legal maneuverings already in the works, and all that was a prelude to Wednesday's announcement.

The Silver and Black’s affiliation has formally changed: They are now the Las Vegas Raiders.

We all knew that was going to happen. The team applied for relocation to Las Vegas and the league approved it with a 31-1 vote back in March 2017. The Raiders remained in Oakland, with that name attached, for three seasons while their state-of-the-art stadium was being built just off the Las Vegas Strip.

On Wednesday afternoon, in front of the in-construction Allegiant Stadium, Nevada governor Steve Sisolak formally announced their new name. The announcement was made with owner Mark Davis, team president Marc Badain and several players in attendance, including quarterback Derek Carr, right tackle Trent Brown and tight end Darren Waller.

"The Raiders were born in Oakland and played 13 seasons in LA," Davis said. "Both cities will always be part of our DNA. But today, we begin a new chapter in our storied history. On Jan. 22, 2020, we are now the Las Vegas Raiders. And today, Las Vegas becomes our nation's capital."

[RELATED: Mayock confident Raiders' Vegas move will help in free agency]

The Raiders formally will move to Las Vegas after training camp in Napa, when their new training facility in nearby Henderson, Nev. will be complete.

The Silver and Black will execute free-agent signings, run the NFL draft and conduct their offseason program in Alameda. The team is scheduled to play in Las Vegas starting in the preseason.