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Oakland Raiders 2017 Position Battles: Cornerbacks

Posted Jul 5, 2017

Time to take a look at how the cornerbacks are shaping up as the Silver and Black prepare for Training Camp 2017.

MORE POSITION BATTLES: Wide Receivers

The Oakland Raiders are now just a few weeks away from reporting to training camp in Napa, Calif.

With a bunch of new faces in the secondary, let’s take a look at the Silver and Black’s cornerbacks, and who you should be keeping an eye on in 2017.

David Amerson

2016 Recap (64 Tackles, Two Interceptions, 14 Passes Defensed)

In his first full season as a Raider – remember, Amerson joined the team in the early stages of the 2015 regular season after being claimed via waivers – the rangy cornerback put together a solid 2016 effort in Oakland.

Not only was Amerson tied for the team lead with 14 passes defensed, his two interceptions were also tied for tops on the Raiders, and he was arguably the most consistent corner in terms of coverage.

Now headed into his third season in Silver and Black, and his second with fellow cornerback Sean Smith, No. 29 looks poised once again to be part of the team’s base defense in 2017.

Oh, and good news for both him and the Raiders defense as a whole; the team is headed back to Music City this season to take on the Tennessee Titans.

Fun fact: in the two games Amerson has played in Tennessee as a Raider, he’s totaled 10 passes defensed, and an interception.

Not too shabby, David.

Breon Borders

2016 Recap (WITH DUKE BLUE DEVILS: 20 Tackles, Two Interceptions, 11 Passes Defensed, One Fumble Recovery, One Forced Fumble)

After wrapping up his college career at Duke, Borders signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in May.

During his career as a Blue Devil, Borders appeared in 49 games, making 35 starts, while totaling 12 interceptions, and 34 passes defensed.

There always seem to be one or two undrafted players who make some noise in training camp, but we’ll have to wait and see if Borders is one of them.

TJ Carrie

2016 Recap (22 Tackles, One Interception, Four Passes Defensed, One Fumble Recovery)

Carrie really is the Swiss army knife of the Raiders secondary.

Not only can he play outside, he can play in the nickel, and he’s shown the ability to also play safety if the situation forces it.

Oh, and he’s a solid contributor on special teams, and can also return kicks and punts if need be.

Now entering his fifth season as a Raider, Carrie has continually found ways to make a positive impact on Sundays, and I fully expect him to do the same in 2017.

Carrie’s stats might not jump off the page, but every good team needs players like him who can go about their business, and do a lot of the little things the right way.

Gareon Conley

2016 Recap (WITH OHIO STATE BUCKEYES: 26 Tackles, Four Interceptions, Eight Passes Defensed)

General Manager Reggie McKenzie spent his first pick in this year’s draft on the athletic corner from Ohio State.

Conley was a valuable member of the Buckeye’s defense during his time in Columbus, appearing in 42 games, making 27 starts, securing 6 interceptions in the process.

While we don’t know exactly where Conley will be lining up once the regular season kicks off, we do know that he has the versatility to play both inside and outside.

The rookie cornerback has proven eager to contribute, and as dynamic as offenses are in today’s NFL, it goes to figure that we’ll see a lot of No. 2 come fall.

Kenneth Durden

2016 Recap (Raiders Practice Squad)

The Youngstown State Product spent the entire season on the Raiders practice squad.

He made some impressive plays during the team’s Offseason Workout Program, and we’ll have to wait and see if he can build on that positive momentum once the pads come on at the end of the month.

Contributing on special teams also figures to be key if Durden wants to see some live action during the regular season.

Antonio Hamilton

2016 Recap (Three Tackles)

Hamilton made the Silver and Black’s final roster as an undrafted free agent, and remained on it all season; however, he was only active for four games.

In his final appearance of the season – Week 12 against the Carolina Panthers – Hamilton recorded all three of his tackles for the season, in what also served as his most action at cornerback for the year as well.

During the four games he was active, Hamilton was a fixture on the Raiders special teams units, and I’ll be interested to see if he can carve out a more prominent role for himself in 2017.

Chris Humes

2016 Recap (WITH ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES: 46 Tackles, One Sack, One Interception, Six Passes Defensed, Three Fumble Recoveries, Two Forced Fumbles)

Humes played four seasons at Arkansas State, and his senior campaign was the most well-rounded one he delivered as a member of the Red Wolves.

At 6-0, and just over 200 pounds, Humes looks to be in the mold of the modern, NFL cornerback; now we just have to see how he looks when the pads come on, and the competition ratchets up.

Dexter McDonald

2016 Recap (Appeared In Six Regular Season Games)

Just like in 2015, McDonald appeared in six games for the Raiders in 2016.

While he did not record a tackle in the six games he appeared in – playing mostly on special teams – he did make his postseason debut in the Silver and Black’s Wild Card matchup against the Houston Texans.

With two seasons in Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.’s scheme, keep an eye on McDonald this season to see if he earns an increased role on the defensive side of the ball.

Sean Smith

2016 Recap (40 Tackles, Two Interceptions, 12 Passes Defensed)

Smith left the division rival Kansas City Chiefs prior to the start of last season to don the Silver and Black, starting every game save one in his first season as a Raider.

The veteran cornerback’s 12 passes defensed were good for second on the defense, and his two interceptions also tied a career high.

Heading into 2017, Smith is not only more comfortable with what Norton will ask of him to do, but he also has another year of familiarity playing with David Amerson. The tandem of Amerson and Smith might be one of the most physically impressive cornerback duos in the NFL, and I’m excited to see them back in action once camp arrives.

Storyline To Follow:

How much, and where, will we see Gareon Conley line up?

What we know right now is that Conley has the tools to be a versatile member of the Raiders defense. Yes, he’s a rookie, who less than nine months ago was playing college football, but all the same, as a first round draft pick, people will look to him to produce sooner than later.

Conley is no doubt one of the more intriguing prospects in the Raiders secondary, and I for one, am excited to see how he looks through training camp, and the preseason.