The Oakland Raiders have big time concerns when it comes to their secondary and in today’s edition of the Raiders Roster Review series, we take a look at the deep secondary with the safety position. If you have missed any pieces, you can read every edition of the Raiders Roster Review series here.
Starters: Karl Joseph
Backups: Shalom Luani, Obi Melifonwu
Impending Free Agents: Reggie Nelson, Keith McGill
Last year, the starters at safety for the Raiders were Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson. But with Nelson set to hit free agency, it’s hard to imagine him being a starter for Oakland next season. Even if Nelson was willing to re-sign for a veteran minimum contract, the Raiders should not even consider signing him unless it’s purely as a backup. And let’s be honest here, there’s no way Nelson is going to sign for the vet min. Despite the fact that Nelson was one of, if not the biggest liability in the secondary, he still believes himself to be a good player and is unlikely to return to a team who has no plans on making him a backup.
And if Paul Guenther is even half of the coordinator fans and the team are hoping he is, there’s no way he will want Nelson starting at safety, despite the fact that Nelson was a starter for him in Cincinnati.
Joseph, on the other hand, has a very good chance of being a starter for the Silver and Black again next season even though he suffered through a rather painful sophomore slump. Joseph’s rookie season gave a lot of reason for hope that the Raiders made a wise decision in selecting him with the 14th overall pick in 2016. Though his 2017 was bad, it’s far too early for the team to give up on him so you can expect him manning one of the starting roles again in 2018 and hopefully with much more success.
The team is also hopeful that 2018 will see the emergence of a clear starter to play with Joseph from one of their two 2017 rookie safeties, Obi Melifonwu and Shalom Luani. Melifonwu is the guy Oakland drafted to start with Joseph but the second rounder spent most of his rookie season riding the bench with injuries. There’s still hope for the athletic freak, but he is a raw prospect who could take a little time to develop.