There are many reasons why the Raiders defense will surpass expectations, and one of them is the strong defensive-minded draft and offseason.
Some major pickups through the draft this offseason were D.J. Hayden and Sio Moore. Both played big roles in their team’s success in college, which should translate well to the NFL.
Hayden’s incredible speed (he ran an impressive 4.33 40 time at the 2013 NFL Combine) makes him a definite Raiders’ pick. When you consider the fact that he survived an injury that kills 95 percent of its victims, his time is even more remarkable. His height brings up concerns, but his long arms, big hands and exceptional jumping should more than make up for that.
Moore has great upside and was a steal in the third round, as his ability to cover the slot receiver will bring great value in the future for the Raiders.
In addition to a great draft, Oakland reeled in some great players in free agency. They added solid defensive backs, like Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, both of which have playoff experience and can perform very well for their new organization. Porter can come up big in crucial moments, like when he intercepted a Peyton Manning pass to seal New Orleans’ monumental victory in Super Bowl 44.
Someone who will play a big role in the Raiders success is Charles Woodson, who has finally made his way back to the place where his illustrious NFL career started. He brings great leadership and the ability to mentor Hayden and Oakland’s other young players, and he will give the Raiders quality play at the safety position.
Hopefully for the Raiders, Woodson can produce like he did eight years ago, when he last donned the Silver and Black. Woodson has intercepted 55 passes in 206 career games, including seven or more passes in four of his last seven seasons.
With a fairly new general manager in Reggie McKenzie, who has treated the team well and made solid additions to build the team from the ground up, the Raiders are bound to make more defensive improvements in the future. However, the Raiders are well into rebuilding mode and should be just fine, especially on defense.
To sum it all up, Woodson will provide leadership, Hayden has the potential to be a Darrelle Revis-caliber corner, and Moore has the will to make it in this league. As a result, Oakland’s defense will be improved.