2015 was one of the rare season of this millennium that we didn’t immediately wipe away with the thought of “there’s always next year”. Derek Carr went out with a bang, tossing touchdowns in the pro bowl, while his peers are dreading the thought of facing Khalil Mack the rest of this decade. With two leaders on each side of the ball, and a nice mix of youth and talent, there’s some real growing optimism in Oakland. One of the biggest reasons for improvement could be what’s missing, the entire secondary that started the 2015 season. All 4 projected starters were on different teams a year ago, and each of them offers something to be excited about.
After whiffing on DJ Hayden, McKenzie gets a mulligan and promptly hit a hole in one off waivers with the addition of David Amerson. In Oakland, Amerson became everything Washington hoped he would be when they selected him in the 2nd round just two years earlier. David stepped in on the fly and was fantastic, finishing as a top 15 graded cornerback per PFF.
Opposite Amerson will be highly sought after free agent Sean Smith. In Smith, the Raiders acquired a big physical man corner who’s familiar with the division, and definitely the best Raiders cornerback since Asomugha left.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Charles Woodson’s presence will be sorely missed. He was the leader of the team, and few in the history of the league made as many game impacting plays as the GOAT. Even with that said, the tandem of Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph should be a huge upgrade. The former led the league in interceptions in 2015, and the later looks to have all the traits of a future star at the position. The blend of experience and youthful energy should be a nice mix, and their jobs will be gravy with the pass rush we expect to see moving forward.
There could obviously be a learning curve as these players learn each others tendencies, but if they figure it out quickly, this unit could be one of the best in the league, and a huge upgrade on the dumpster fire we saw at times last season (cough…Pittsburgh…cough).