Raiders Position Battles: Defensive Backs

A look at the Raiders position by position - we continue with the defensive backs.

POSITION BATTLES: LinebackersWide Receivers | Running BacksTight Ends

Oakland Raiders defensive backs range from an 18-year veteran to a rookie 7th round draft pick. After bringing in veteran tandems to start on the corners the past two years, the Raiders chose not to do that this year. Instead the starting cornerbacks will more than likely come from internal ranks. There are currently 10 cornerbacks and seven safeties on the roster. 

Charles Woodson | 6'1" | 210 | Michigan | 18th season

What can we say about Charles Woodson? He's the leader of the secondary and is still making game-changing plays at age 38. He is the only player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks and he is tied for most defensive touchdowns all-time. 

Bottom Line: Woodson's accolades and abilities are well documented. 


Nate Allen | 6'1" | 210 | South Florida | 6th season

Allen comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles and was paired with Woodson throughout much of the offseason. Allen was a spectator at the end of the offseason program due to an injury. He has collected 10 career interceptions including four last season. 

Bottom Line: Unless someone comes out of nowhere to snatch the spot, Allen should start at safety alongside Woodson. 


DJ Hayden | 5'11" | 190 | Houston | 3rd season

Hayden showed flashes last season of why the Raiders made him a first round selection. However, now is the time that investment needs to pay off. It is key that Hayden put in a full season. He was impressive at times last season showing good ball skills and physicality. 

Bottom Line: Hayden should start at one corner spot. 


TJ Carrie | 6' | 204 | Ohio | 2nd season

Carrie showed his versatility as a contributor in the secondary and on special teams as a kick and punt returner. However, his propensity to put his body on the line left him susceptible to injury. The 7th round pick from a year ago was a pleasant surprise as an all-around football player. 

Bottom Line: Despite competing for a kick return job, Carrie should start at the corner spot opposite Hayden. 


Brandian Ross | 6'1" | 191 | Youngstown State | 4th season

Ross played well after returning to the Raiders a few weeks into last season after a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins. He chalked up his first two career interceptions. From my own observations, Ross had an excellent offseason program, making several plays during OTAs and mini-camps. 

Bottom Line: Ross is versatile enough to play safety and/or corner. He has good size and should carve out a niche if he continues his improved play. 


Chimdi Chekwa | 6' | 194 | Ohio State | 4th season

Chekwa signed with the Patriots this offseason and quickly re-joined the Raiders after New England waived him. Chekwa has good size and has played well on special teams since entering the NFL as a Raiders draft pick. 

Bottom Line: Chekwa has been a valuable back up and special teams player but, with the talent the Raiders have brought in this offseason, he will have to fight for his spot. 


Keith McGill | 6'3" | 211 | Utah | 2nd season

McGill played well in limited duty down the stretch last season as he was pressed into service due to injuries. He recorded a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown in the season finale at Denver. 

Bottom Line: One of the bigger defensive backs on the roster, much is expected out of this 2014 4th round draft pick. 


Neiko Thorpe | 6'1" | 200 | Auburn | 3rd season

Thorpe saw action in 14 games last season and played well in spots. He recorded eight tackles and one pass defensed after an impressive preseason. 

Bottom Line: Thorpe could compete for and earn one of the CB spots, but he'll have tough competition. 


Ras-I Dowling | 6'1" | 210 | Virginia | 3rd season

Dowling was added to the Raiders active roster late in the season last year. The journeyman has spent time with the New England Patriots and New York Jets. He saw action in three games for the Raiders. 

Bottom Line: Similar in size to several other Raiders defensive backs, Dowling will have to show something special in training camp to stick. 


James Dockery | 6'1" | 185 | Oregon State | 5th season

The former Carolina Panther was quite excited to sign with the Raiders as a free agent. He has played in 31 games for the Panthers and the Cleveland Browns. 

Bottom Line: Dockery will need every bit of that enthusiasm and veteran savvy to beat out some of the younger talent. 


Dexter McDonald | 6'1" | 200 | Kansas | 7th round

McDonald played three years at Kansas, starting 24 of 31 games at cornerback. He totaled 81 tackles (58 solo) with one forced fumble, four INTs and 25 passes defensed. 

Bottom Line: McDonald, the last player taken in the Raiders 2015 Draft class, was chosen for a reason, albeit late. The Raiders are hoping his college productivity transfers to the NFL. 


SaQwan Edwards | 6' | 200 | New Mexico | UDFA

Edwards has been impressive so far this offseason and always seems to be around the ball. He played three years at New Mexico after transferring from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. Edwards moved to cornerback from wide receiver following his sophomore season He played in 31 games at New Mexico, totaling 65 tackles (57 solo), three INTs and 19 passes defensed. 

Bottom Line: Edwards has a legitimate shot if he continues to show the playmaking ability he has shown during OTAs and mini-camps. 


Rob Daniel | 6'1 | 209 | BYU | UDFA

A bit of a local product, Daniel played two years at BYU after transferring from De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif. He played in 25 games with 22 starts in two seasons at BYU and posted 110 career tackles (87 solo), three INTs, 23 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one sack. 

Bottom Line: Daniel will have to show something special in training camp and the preseason in a crowded secondary. 


Larry Asante | 6' | 210 | Nebraska | 4th season

Asante saw action in just six games with two starts last season but chalked up 24 total tackles and one forced fumble. Against the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, Asante was seemingly all over the field. He's a sure open-field tackler and picked up the defense quickly after joining the team in the middle of the season. 

Bottom Line: Asante has a leg up after being productive with the Raiders last season. He'll need to continue to show playmaking ability.


Jonathan Dowling | 6'3" | 190 | Western Kentucky | 2nd season

The 2014 7th round draft pick only saw action in seven games during his rookie season. He is tall and rangy and has a knack for making plays in practice. He finished the season on injured reserve with a back injury. 

Bottom Line: Another defensive back in the mold of the recent trend of taller secondary players, Dowling will need to develop consistency and stay healthy to justify his presence. 


Jimmy Hall | 6'1" | 228 | Northwestern | UDFA

Hall played four years at Northwestern, appearing in 44 games with eight starts. He saw action at both linebacker and safety Hall totaled 102 career tackles (67 solo), six tackles for loss, three INTs, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and five passes defensed. 

Bottom Line: As with most undrafted free agents, Hall will have to really stand out to make the team. He does have good size for the safety position. 


Tevin McDonald | 5'11" | 195 | Eastern Washington | UDFA

McDonald played two years at Eastern Washington after transferring from UCLA He played in 23 games at Eastern Washington, recording 121 tackles (80 solo), four INTs, one sack, four tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine passes defensed.

Bottom Line: With the youth at defensive back on the roster, players like McDonald and Hall could make a case to make the 53-player roster.


The Raiders will have to trim 17 players down to about 10. Many of these players are similar in size and experience. It could be a tough call come cut down day.

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