TJ Carrie started all 16 games in 2017; Sean Smith appeared in every game save two, and neither will be on the Oakland Raiders roster in 2018.
Although he battled injury all year, and played in just six games, David Amerson was just a year removed from being the top cornerback for the Silver and Black, but he too will have a new football home going forward.
We’re less than a week into the NFL calendar year, but the Raiders roster is in the process of being overhauled, and with its three top corners from a year ago now out of Oakland, there likely isn’t a position group on the team that will look more different than the secondary.
While Amerson, Smith, and Carrie are all out, cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Shareece Wright are in, as is safety Marcus Gilchrist.
2017 proved to be a career year for Melvin, and although his fourth NFL campaign was shortened due to injury, the Northern Illinois-product believes he can be the number one cornerback that the Raiders defense will look to him to be.
“I thought Oakland was the right fit because after talking with [Head Coach Jon] Gruden, after talking with the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach I felt like it was a place I could call home,” said Melvin. “I can relate to these guys. They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”
Melvin will be joined on the outside by another veteran face, former San Diego Charger Shareece Wright, who spent 2017 with the Buffalo Bills, after stops in both Southern California and with the Baltimore Ravens.
Now, as he prepares for his seventh NFL season, Wright will be looked at to provide some much-needed stability in the secondary, paired with Melvin, and hopefully a healthy Gareon Conley.
“I’m a versatile football player,” Wright explained. “I’ve played in the slot. I’ve played outside. Obviously, the special teams stuff. I feel like my role, like Coach Gruden told me, is just, ‘I need a guy like you on my team, in the locker room and on the field with a bunch of young guys that you can show the way, show the ropes.’ Kind of what it takes to be successful and take care of your body and prepare for Sundays and prepare to play on Sundays. Just showing that leadership.”
“I think he’s a great young guy,” added Melvin when discussing Conley. “Full of potential. I know there was a couple of reasons he wasn’t able to play last year. But this year I know he’s ready to step up and be that corner opposite. Makes some plays as well as the safety Karl Joseph. He’s been playing, making some plays. For me to come in and help these guys out and show those guys exactly what it takes to be a great secondary, I think that’s what we need.”
As both Wright and Melvin alluded, part of their respective roles in 2018 will indeed be to mentor the younger defensive backs on the roster, perhaps most noticeably Conley, the team’s first round pick a year ago who played sparingly throughout his rookie campaign.
It’s become abundantly clear that the 2018 iteration of the Silver and Black will look much, much different than the 2017 squad, and while we won’t know for certain how the roster will shape up until training camp, one thing we do know is that there will be a lot of fresh faces residing in the team’s secondary.
And after ranking No. 26 against the pass in 2017, that’s probably not a bad thing.