Raiders Draft Radar 2021: Safeties

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Levi Damien
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There were issues at safety last season pretty much across the board. The Raiders are hoping much of that was the defensive scheme Paul Guenther was running. But even if that was the primary culprit, adding a potential starting safety to the mix in this draft is a must.

New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme requires he has great safety play. Though Johnathan Abram was among the problems with last year’s team, he is a former first-round pick, so he will be given another shot to prove himself.

With Abram at strong safety, it’s free safety that will need an influx of talent. They signed Karl Joseph to give them some insurance, but if they truly want to fix the defense, going after a rangy-free safety in the draft is the way to do it.

There are a few in this draft who could be just what the Raiders are looking for. Here are those safeties along with the round that could make sense for the Raiders to snag them.

Trevon Moehrig, TCU - Round 1-2

Dec 5, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs safety Trevon Moehrig (7) intercepts a pass against Oklahoma State Cowboys tight end Jelani Woods (89) while defended by safety Ar'Darius Washington (24) in the fourth quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Widely considered the best safety in this draft. And with the Raiders' need at the position, drafting him with their top pick wouldn’t be the worst idea. Though most consider No. 17 a bit high for Moehrig, so if they were to get him in the first, a trade down would be preferable, if that’s an option. If the Raiders don’t want to reach at No. 17 and can’t trade down, they would just have to hope he isn’t swiped up by another team before their pick at 48 overall. The 6-0, 202-pounder won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2020 and was named second-team All-American and First Team All-Big 12. He picked off six passes the past two seasons for the Horned Frogs along with 26 pass breakups. He also only gave up two touchdowns during that 22-game span. He is the ideal single-high free safety for Gus Bradley’s defense.

Richie Grant, Central Florida - Round 2

Jan 1, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; UCF Knights defensive back Richie Grant (27) against the LSU Tigers in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If the Raiders miss out on Moehrig, Grant is more than a consolation prize in round two. A three-time First Team All-AAC selection, he twice led the team in tackles and interceptions, including six in 2018. He added 29 total pass breakups and seven forced fumbles in his UCF career.

Andre Cisco, Syracuse - Round 3

Sep 7, 2019; College Park, MD, USA; Syracuse Orange defensive back Andre Cisco (7) reacts after an interception during the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cisco would probably have a first-round grade if not for a couple of issues. First and foremost, he tore his ACL early last season. Secondly, he has a tendency to be overly aggressive and freelance, which the Raiders no doubt got irritated with Johnathan Abram doing too much last season. Otherwise, Cisco is a great-looking talent. He put up 13 interceptions and 29 pass breakups over 22 starts for the Orangemen, earning him second team All-America and first team All-ACC and ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman. He followed up his FBS-leading seven interception season with five picks as a sophomore, earning second team All-ACC honors. His obvious talents would make his red flags worth taking a chance on in the third.

Jamar Johnson, Indiana - Round 3-4

Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Luke Farrell (89) misses a pass under pressure from Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Jamar Johnson (22) during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Johnson improved every season at Indiana, ultimately starting all eight games last season, putting up four interceptions and eight pass breakups. He also hasn’t given up a touchdown in two years. He was arrested in 2018 for fleeing police after they smelled marijuana on him, but clearly, he’s three years removed from that. He was ejected last season for throwing a punch in a game.

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