Raiders will have a ton of roster competition for the final cornerback spot

Raiders (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders should have plenty of competition for the final cornerback roster spot.

The Las Vegas Raiders have made a concerted effort to completely remake their cornerback room over the past few seasons. And at the moment, the position looks nothing like it did just a couple of years ago.

In fact, out of all 13 cornerbacks currently on the 90-man roster, not a single one of them was on the roster before last season. That’s some pretty impressive roster turnover — almost unprecedented in fact.

The Raiders have added a ton of new faces since the 2019 offseason and with those new faces comes increased competition. And that very competition could be the impetus behind a hopefully improved secondary in 2020.

Las Vegas is currently slated to roll into this season with 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen as their No. 1 cornerback. Mullen showed signs of future stardom in his rookie season and he’s pretty much guaranteed a starting spot.

Opposite Mullen, free-agent pickup Prince Amukamara and 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette will likely battle it out for the other starting boundary cornerback job. Arnette has the draft pedigree, but Amukamara should probably be considered the favorite for now.

Either way, they’ll both be guaranteed roster spots.

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The same could be said for hybrid defensive back Lamarcus Joyner who is expected to fill the starting nickel cornerback role once again. Joyner struggled mightily in his first season in silver and black and there’s been talk about moving him back to safety.

But for now, he should see the majority of his snaps in the slot. The same could be said for rookie fourth-round pick Amik Robertson who many believe could be one of the steals of the draft.

Robertson played primarily an outside role in college but at just 5-foot-9, it’s hard to see him doing the same in the NFL. Expect Robertson to push Joyner for snaps in the slot as the year goes on.

All five of those players are guaranteed roster spots. But that still leaves a whopping eight players fighting for what will likely be one final spot. Many of those players could find homes on the expanded practice squad, but there will be plenty of competition.

Which Raiders cornerbacks will be competing for the final roster spot?

The three players with the best chance of securing that spot are 2019 fourth-rounder Isaiah Johnson, veteran Nevin Lawson, and former undrafted rookie Keisean Nixon.

Johnson was hailed by many as the potential “steal of the draft” last year — similar to Robertson — but the promising young cornerback dealt with multiple injuries in his rookie season ranging from a concussion to a bulging disc in his back.

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In total, he played in just five games receiving just 14 defensive snaps. The coaching staff is still high on him, but the NFL waits for no one and he’ll be fighting an uphill battle to receive any playing time in 2020.

Meanwhile, Lawson is a reliable veteran who’s started 59 games over the course of his career including five with the Raiders last season. The team will have some flexibility with his roster spot as he’ll be suspended for Week 1, but he’s surely no lock for the roster.

As for Nixon, the Raiders showed enough faith in the former South Carolina standout to give him a roster spot straight out of the preseason. He would go on to play 14 games in his rookie season playing almost exclusively on special teams.

While he may never develop into a starting-caliber cornerback, Nixon excels on special teams and will rely on his play in that facet to earn a roster spot.

Still, only one of those players will likely secure a spot on the final 53-man roster — although the new practice squad rules will ease roster transactions.

Johnson should probably be seen as the favorite, but don’t be surprised if Nixon makes it over him strictly due to his work on special teams. And we all know the Raiders love their veterans so don’t count Lawson out either.

Next. Raiders: Ranking the top 4 quarterbacks in franchise history. dark

Too much depth is always a good problem to have and the Raiders seem to have encountered that issue at the cornerback position.