Troy Pride

NFL Draft 2020: Raiders could strike gold with Day 2 cornerback gems

NFL Draft 2020: Raiders could strike gold with Day 2 cornerback gems

The Raiders struck gold in the 2019 NFL Draft by finding Trayvon Mullen, a potential lockdown corner in the second round.

You can pencil Mullen as the starting cornerback on one side of the field for the foreseeable future. The Raiders tried to address the cornerback position in free agency, but they missed out on Byron Jones and Chris Harris Jr. After their deal with Eli Apple fell apart, cornerback became a pressing need to be addressed in the NFL draft.

The 2020 cornerback class has one surefire star in Ohio State's Jeff Okudah and two-to-five other likely NFL starters that should go in the first 40 picks. That's pretty much the range for elite cornerbacks. Over the last four years, Richard Sherman (fifth-round), A.J. Bouye (undrafted) and Malcolm Butler (undrafted) were the only three All-Pro cornerbacks who weren't drafted in the first two rounds. The other 13 all were taken at the top of the draft.

That doesn't mean it's impossible to find talent at cornerback later in the draft, it just means it's a little less likely. The Raiders should be able to address their cornerback need in Round 1, but there are a few later-round guys who they should target if the draft goes a different way.

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Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn

Igbinoghene arrived on The Plains as a talented receiver recruit and turned into one of the draft's most intriguing cornerback prospects.

A relatively new corner, Igbinoghene has the athleticism and physicality to play at the NFL but he will need to get more comfortable with his coverage instincts. He's an explosive athlete with a high NFL ceiling, but there's no telling how long it will take him to reach it. Over 878 coverage snaps at Auburn, Igbinoghene allowed only three touchdowns. Not bad for a converted wide receiver.

Here's the athleticism:

And improving coverage skills.

Bryce Hall, Virginia

Hall returned for his senior season at Viriginia, but an ankle injury limited him to just six games, hurting his draft stock.

The 6-foot-1 defensive back is long and explosive with tremendous ball skills. He struggled at times in man coverage at Virginia and many analysts beleive he might be best suited for a zone-heavy scheme. While he comes with question marks, Hall has is an intelligent player, high character locker room presence and has the ability to make game-changing plays on the field.

He projects as an NFL starter as long as the fit is right.

Damon Arnette, Ohio State

If you're looking for a starter in press coverage, Damon Arnette is your man.

Overshadowed by his teammate Okudah, the 6-foot cornerback has great quickness, is sticky in man coverage, has the anticipation to play zone and brings exceptional ball skills and body control to the table. He had the lowest passer rating allowed in single man coverage in the NCAA last year.

The Raiders kicked the tires on a Darius Slay trade, but it fell through. Arnette has drawn comparisons to Slay and should be able to start in the NFL on Day 1.

Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State

One of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, Dantzler has the height, length, competitiveness and versatility to be a solid NFL cornerback. While some scouts worry about his narrow frame, the tape shows a corner with great coverage skills in man, press and zone.

Dantzler's anticipation and instincts have some analysts believing he'd be a better zone-scheme fit in the NFL. His production across 22 starts at Mississippi State shows a corner who has the tools to fit into any scheme if given the time.

The 6-foot-2 corner also played LSU's Ja'Marr Chase -- the Biletnikoff Award winner and likely top-10 2021 pick -- the best of any corner. While Chase torched Clemson's A.J. Terrell, a likely top 40 pick, in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Dantzler only allowed two catches for 13 yards when targeted by LSU.

However, Dantlzer's 4.64 40 time and 30.5-inch arms will raise a lot of questions about his staying power in the NFL.

[RELATED: Why trading up to draft Okudah is perfect move for Raiders

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame

Potentially one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, Notre Dame's Troy Pride Jr. played well at the Senior Bowl and could be one of the steals of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 5-foot-11 corner has the requisite quickness, speed and change of direction to thrive in man coverage. While he thrives in man, Pride also has the instincts to play zone and has played in a press-scheme as well, making him not scheme dependent.

Hurting Pride are his less than exceptional ball skills and lack of production in run support. While he might not be a Day 1 starter, Pride does have the skills and potential to be a starter in Year 2 or Year 3.

NFL Draft 2020: Jerry Jeudy, five other prospects who are good Raiders fits

NFL Draft 2020: Jerry Jeudy, five other prospects who are good Raiders fits

The NFL draft is all about acquiring talent, especially for teams like the Raiders who are in the middle of a rebuild.

After general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden assembled a pristine draft class last year, they now are tasked with following that up. 

But while collecting talent is paramount, fit is equally important.

As the Raiders collect their intel at the NFL Scouting Combine, let's look at some players who would be good fits with the Raiders. (Yes, players like Joe Burrow, Isaiah Simmons, Jeffrey Okudah and Justin Herbert would be great fits, but I approached this under the impression the Raiders would not be trading up for any of those players in the first round.)

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Let's get the easy one out of the way.

The Raiders need wide receiver help and Jeudy is one of the two best in the class along with CeeDee Lamb. 

Jeudy is the best route-runner in the class and has the ability to go outside his body to haul in off-target passes. He's also an absolute problem with the ball in his hands. His polished route-running and ability to create separation absolutely would appeal to Gruden.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

There's a big hole in the middle of the Raiders' defense. Getting safety Johnathan Abram back will help, but they still need to revamp their linebacking corps. 

Queen was a key piece to LSU's title run, making a number of big plays in the title game against Clemson.

He's a little undersized at 6-foot-1, but he has great coverage ability and the athleticism to track tight ends, running backs and slot receivers make him the perfect versatile piece for the modern NFL. 

Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

The Raiders have three third-round picks and it wouldn't be surprising to see them use one on Jalen Hurts.

Hurts has a laundry list of skills that are ideal for the new RPO-centric era of the NFL.

He has great pocket awareness, thrives at extending plays and beating teams with his legs and has the arm strength to make NFL throws. He's a smart football player who has been around a lot of winning during his college career.

Drafting and developing Hurts might be the proper way for the Raiders to address their quarterback conundrum.

Kyle Dugger, S, Lenior-Rhyne

A Division-II diamond in the rough. Dugger is shooting up draft boards and might not be around on Day 2 when the Raiders go on the clock. 

But if he is, it wouldn't be surprising to see Gruden and Mayock tab the Lenior-Rhyne product.

Dugger is one of the best athletes in the class. He has great burst, speed and a long wingspan. He was a cut above the competition at the D-II level, so it remains to be seen how his coverage skills will translate at the NFL level.

Right now, Dugger might be better suited for a linebacker role but he projects as a safety once he's a polished product. Much like Queen, Dugger's ability to play in the box or deep should make him a good fit as the Raiders look to reshape their defense.

Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame

The Raiders' secondary needs some work. Pride shined at the Senior Bowl and is a guy the Raiders should look at on Day 2 in order to bolster their secondary.

Pride is a high-IQ corner who has good man-coverage skills and is solid in zone. He needs to work on his tackling and run support, but has decent ball skills and thrives when he's able to key in on the quarterback.

[RELATED: Ruggs, Claypool, Jefferson should have Raiders' attention]

Trevon Hill, EDGE, Miami

Another Day 2/3 guy, Hill is a guy with innate pass-rush ability who can help the Raiders immediately as a situational guy,

He has a nose for the quarterback, powerful hands and the athleticism to drop into coverage.

Hill doesn't have the overall athleticism that will jump off the screen, but he'll have a place in the NFL.