Ahead of the start of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, we're reviewing all the position groups on the Oakland Raiders 2017 squad.
Next up are the team's cornerbacks, so let's go back and review the group as a whole.
Overview:Okay, so here's the deal. Is allowing north of 240 passing yards per game going to get it done most days in the NFL? Probably not, but while the Silver and Black finished the year ranked No. 26 in passing defense, the Raiders secondary – the cornerbacks in particular – weren't necessarily playing with a full deck.
David Amerson – arguably the team's best cover corner in 2016 – battled a nagging injury all year, and appeared in just six games, while the team's first-round draft pick, Gareon Conley, made just a pair of appearances in his rookie campaign.
Not only that, the depth in the position group took a hit as well, as Antonio Hamilton was also bitten by the injury bug, playing in just half of the Raiders regular season contests in 2017.
Because of all the injuries, and players being unavailable, the Silver and Black rolled with TJ Carrie and Sean Smith as the team's base corners for much of the year.
Now, while statistically speaking, the defensive numbers don't paint the prettiest picture of the Raiders defense in 2017, I think it's fair to note that Sean Smith was a much-improved player over the final six weeks of the season, and TJ Carrie delivered his best year as a pro last year.
Third-year cornerback Dexter McDonald also played in every game save one, finishing his 2017 season with eight passes defensed and one forced fumble.
The Number To Know:11
Like we said earlier, TJ Carrie delivered the best year of his career in 2017. His 11 passes defensed led the Raiders, and No. 38 was the most consistent player in the Raiders secondary. He might not be the flashiest player, but Carrie was a key cog in the Raiders defense last season.
Going Forward:Well, even though we're still a few weeks out from the start of the Combine, the Raiders corners are already undergoing a bit of a transformation.
Even though he was technically under contract for 2018, the Silver and Black parted ways with David Amerson on February 5, ending his two-plus season run in Oakland.
While Amerson is now looking for a new football home, Antonio Hamilton, Dexter McDonald, and Sean Smith are still under contract for 2018, as is Gareon Conley.
However, TJ Carrie, arguably the best defensive back on the roster in 2017, is due to hit the free agent market in March, and I'll be very intrigued to see how General Manager Reggie McKenzie handles Carrie's situation going forward.
Carrie excluded though, all eyes are going to be on Gareon Conley in 2018.
It's no secret that the Ohio State-product didn't live up to the hefty expectations he had attached to him coming in, but the hope is that 2018 – under the direction of a new staff – will serve as a fresh start of sorts for the talented cornerback.
The Silver and Black will need a big year from Conley in 2018; let's see what he has in his repertoire.
MVP Of The Position Group: TJ Carrie in a landslide. Yes, Sean Smith played a much-improved brand of football over the final month or so of the season, but Carrie was the consistent, calming force that the Raiders secondary desperately needed in 2017.
His 11 passes defensed led all Raiders, and in addition to totaling 86 total tackles, he also added two fumble recoveries for good measure.
Carrie was solid in 2017, and good teams need players like him on the roster; he's a jack of all trades who can do a little bit of everything.
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