The Las Vegas Raiders recently made what could end up being their most important move of the offseason when they hired Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator.
That’s the same Bradley who was the coach for one of the best defenses in the modern era, the Seattle Seahawks in the early 2010s with the “Legion of Boom.”
Bradley coached defensive backs like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to some of the best years of their careers. That experience should serve him well in trying to enhance the Raiders' young defensive backfield.
That’s especially true when it comes to the safety position, where the Raiders have a first-round investment in Johnathan Abram.
Basically playing in his rookie season after suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of 2019, Abram exhibited a physicality that could remind Bradley a little bit of the way Chancellor played.
Those flashes though were far and in between, so much to the point that he was dead last in Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) safety rankings this season.
The highest-rated safety for the Raiders this year was veteran Jeff Heath, who finished as the 17th best in the league as rated by PFF. Coming to the Raiders this offseason on a two-year deal worth $6 million, he’s already given them plus value at that price.
Other than Heath and Abram, Erik Harris served as a primary starter but was still ranked below average and will be a free agent this offseason.
That could lead to the Raiders looking at the safety position, among their other defensive needs in the 2021 NFL Draft.
It could be said that Abram’s play this past season makes it even more paramount, although bringing in Bradley could hopefully provide him a coach who can harness his talent.
If the Raiders focus on providing him a long-term running mate, there could be a couple of players to consider.
Safety isn’t an incredibly deep position in the draft this year, but players like Jevon Holland of Oregon and Ar’Darius Washington of TCU are projected first-round talents who could be available when the Raiders pick at No. 17.
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