The Oakland Raiders allowed 259 passing yards per game in 2015, a number that ranked 26th in the NFL – and that's assuredly a statistic that didn't sit well with Head Coach Jack Del Rio.
"We've got to attack our secondary with draft picks and free agents, and we're going to," said Head Coach Del Rio Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We're going to add talent to that group and we're going to make it really competitive."
Del Rio compared the vision for bulking up the secondary to what happened with the wide receiver and tight end positions heading into last season – a reshaping that resulted in the additions of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, as well as Lee Smith and Clive Walford.
"You go out and hopefully you're able to find a couple guys here [at the Combine] that you like, and then you go into free agency and you get a couple of guys that you like, and you make that group much more competitive," stated Del Rio.
Throughout 2015, the Raiders secondary was a constant topic of conversation, but to be fair, it was a group that was forced to make numerous personnel changes as the season wore on.
Nate Allen missed a majority of the season, and while he didn't miss any games, Charles Woodson battled injury throughout the campaign, seemingly popping his injured shoulder back into place on a weekly basis.
Because of those injuries, TJ Carrie – a starting cornerback at season's beginning – was forced to retreat to the back end of the defense, and behind David Amerson, the Silver and Black were never really able to solidify a second cornerback on the outside of the defense.
As impressive and versatile as Carrie proved to be, Del Rio stressed Wednesday that heading into 2016, nothing is already etched in stone.
Take a look at some of the top prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft in action.
"Our secondary is going to be attacked this offseason with talent; guys that are there are going to have to compete," Del Rio said. "We're going to be a more physical secondary next year. We're going to tackle better and we're going to play better and we're going to be a better defense next year and that has to happen. TJ and everybody else that's returning, they're going to need to compete and earn their way."
The secondary won't be rebuilt or retooled overnight, but after a noted improvement in 2015, and with some key franchise cornerstones in place already, Del Rio believes that the Raiders will be an attractive option for impending free agents.
"I think what we were able to accomplish last year in laying the foundation, establish the culture and improving the environment we're working in," Del Rio said. "I think those are all positive signs, so anybody looking at this picture says, 'yeah, I'd like to be a part of that.'''