Raiders Position Battles: The Third Safety

Isaiah Pola-Mao, Chris Smith II, and Trey Taylor all have a chance to be the first safety off the sideline for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Sep 10, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Las Vegas Raiders safety Isaiah Pola-Mao (20) reacts following the win over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Las Vegas Raiders safety Isaiah Pola-Mao (20) reacts following the win over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders will soon begin training camp as the 2024 season is approaching. 

The Raiders have some details to iron out about who will play the most and at what spots. These position battles should commence throughout camp and should be intriguing to watch. 

While not every player will be competing for starting snaps, some will be competing for significant playing time in a rotational role. 

The Raiders have question marks in their secondary, but the safety position is not one of them. Las Vegas has two quality starting safeties in Marcus Epps and Tre’von Moehrig, and good, quality depth behind them. 

The question becomes, if the Raiders take one of those players off the field, who becomes the third safety? Coach Antonio Pierce and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham have plenty of options. 

In our previous positional battle previews, we highlighted competitions featuring just two players competing for one spot. With the third safety spot, three players have a real chance to play significant snaps. 

The Raiders will have their choice of Isaiah Pola-Mao, Chris Smith II, and rookie Trey Taylor. Of these three, who will see the most snaps behind Epps and Moehrig? 

Let’s take a closer look at all three players. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Pola-Mao is technically the most experienced player here despite having just 211 career snaps. Smith has just 22, and Taylor is a rookie.

Pola-Mao has been impressive throughout the preseason and during the limited regular-season snaps he sees. Last season, he recorded an interception of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on an overthrow. 

Pola-Mao is a rangy ballhawk who is also an excellent tackler. He was an undrafted free agent looking to make his mark on the team in his third season. 

Smith was selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft but did not see the field much in his rookie season. He will try to break through in year two and be a factor as quality depth in the Raiders’ secondary. 

Smith, like Pola-Mao, is an impressive coverage safety with a high IQ and excellent intangibles. He is undersized and not the best athlete, which is likely why he did not see the field often. 

Taylor also has excellent IQ and intangibles but may be the best run defender of the three safeties. However, he is not a great athlete and may struggle against NFL size and physicality in coverage. 

There are plenty of snaps to go around for these three young, relatively inexperienced safeties. This battle should be interesting to follow throughout camp.

Ensure you follow on X (Twitter) @HondoCarpenter and IG @HondoSr and never miss another breaking news story again.

Please let us know your thoughts when you like our Facebook page WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE.


Published
Carter Landis

CARTER LANDIS

Carter Landis studied journalism at Michigan State University where I graduated in May of 2022. He currently is a sports reporter for a local television station, and is a writer covering the Las Vegas Raiders