Three Long-Term Solutions for the Raiders at Safety

Sep 27, 2014; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies safety Obi Melifonwu (20) celebrates against the Temple Owls during the first half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Back-to-back safeties in Round One? That’s exactly one of the many dizzying scenarios that could play out draft day for the Oakland Raiders. After all the team is near the bottom half at No. 24 overall.

That means 23 prospects head elsewhere and chances are that group will include some prime defenders. How the draft plays out when the Raiders are in the clock could result in the team making it another safety in the opening round. Here’s a glance at who could be pick No. 24:

(Note: I’m assuming Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and LSU’s Jamal Adams go as they are top 10 talent.)

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan: The hype surrounding the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Wolverine is borderline ridiculous. Lacking turnover production, there’s no denying Peppers’ athleticism. Teams will fall in love with his versatility. He could play linebacker or in-box enforcer with aging Reggie Nelson and young punisher Karl Joseph in backfield. “Michigan might move him around too much. He will really improve when he can lock in and learn a position,” an AFC scouting director quipped.

Obi Melifonwu, UConn: Insane size-speed specimen at 6-4, 220 and 4.40 speed. Ballhawk who will high-point pass for interception. Length and speed makes him a matchup nightmare for tight ends. Not a big hitter and tends to arm tackle, but gets the job done. “He’s going to get a lot better in the pros and he has that elite size that will get him overdrafted,” an AFC personnel director noted.

Budda Baker, Washington: Impressive football IQ and uncanny heart, albeit in an undersized body. The 5-10, 195-pounder gets to play in a hurry thanks to instincts and speed. Recognition skills separate Baker as he doesn’t bite in fakes. Pairing Budda with KJ would give Oakland a small last line of defense. “I would leave him as a centerfielder and then roll him down over the slot if you needed too. He’s too small to cover tight ends, but he’s got great instincts in coverage which is why he should shine as a single-high,” a NFC scout said if Baker.



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  • Eric Kench

    The Raiders are set at safety for the 2017 season with Nelson and Joseph. However, they should start thinking about the future. Karl Joseph had a good rookie season and was given a high rating by Pro Football Focus, but I am not convinced of his ability to cover tight ends. How could a 5’10” player cover one who is 6’5″? Joseph should be moved to free safety after Nelson’s contract expires for obvious reasons. I would then bring in a taller player to play the strong safety position. I had high hopes for Taylor Mays, but like Aldon Smith he is still suspended.