Of all the Oakland Raiders’ position groups, cornerback is the biggest cause for concern. The position is filled with question marks and a total lack of depth. The cornerbacks that are likely to make the roster are D.J. Hayden, Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, Keith McGill, Chimdi Chekwa and T.J. Carrie. In fact, one of those is likely to end up either getting cut or landing on the practice squad, but these are the guys who will be in serious consideration to make the team.
If everything goes according to plan, the starting corners will be Brown and Hayden, with Carlos Rogers starting in the slot position. But before training camp has even begun, there are already questions about whether or not the team will be able to stick to the plan. Hayden, who was a huge disappointment in his rookie season, missed most of the offseason workouts with an ankle injury. While a sprained ankle is far from being a major concern, Hayden missed offseason workouts as well as most of the regular season due to injury in 2013. Hayden has not done much of anything to justify his draft position yet.
Hayden has the physical abilities to be a very good player in the NFL, but also has some big problems he needs to fix. While his speed, hips and footwork are great, he has a hard time with more physical receivers and he was flagged for a few penalties because he would fail to get his head around to locate the ball when defending a pass. With so little experience and having missed a lot of time already, it is hard to have much faith that Hayden will perform well as a starting corner.
Brown is probably the best corner the Raiders have had since the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha (he was still good at that point). That, however, is not saying a whole lot since the corner position has been a huge area of weakness for the Raiders year in and year out. He’s not going to be a Pro Bowl caliber player for the Raiders, but he will provide some stability to a position that sorely needs it.
Rogers is another solid player — assuming he stays at nickel, that is. Last season, Tracy Porter was brought in with the idea of using him as the nickel corner, but when Hayden had issues and missed time, Porter was moved to the outside. If the Raiders have to do that with Rogers, it will not be go well. Much like Porter, Rogers does well in the nickel but is not a guy you want starting on the outside.
Behind them are two rookies and a fourth-year player in Chekwa who has never really reached his potential but continues to be fairly promising. The rookies, Carrie and McGill, were brought in for different reasons. McGill is a fourth round pick who many believe can develop into a starter in the league. Meanwhile, Carrie is a seventh-rounder who was drafted primarily based on his ability to contribute in special teams as a punt returner. But both guys have looked good in offseason workouts and provide promising potential for the future. But as for now, the Raiders have to hope none of their starters miss too much time with injury because the depth does not appear ready to step up to the plate yet.
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