The Raiders must draft a corner this year

In all likelihood, the Oakland Raiders will have Sean Smith and David Amerson as their starting cornerbacks in 2017. They are both paid like starters and the Raiders are not likely going to bail on either one despite a poor 2016 season. But despite that fact, when the NFL Draft rolls around, cornerback is a position they absolutely must draft.

First off, while the Raiders may already have their two starting corners the depth behind them is pretty weak. After Smith and Amerson is T.J. Carrie, who is a valuable depth piece that can play a number of different positions. But after Carrie there isn’t much you’d actually want to see on the field. While fans may not have loved D.J. Hayden, he made for decent depth because of his experience and athleticism. With his departure comes a need for more depth.

But the Raiders shouldn’t be thinking depth when they draft a corner. They should be thinking future starter.

This year’s secondary class is so deep, a starter can be found in the second, third or maybe even fourth rounds. Even if not day one starters, you can find guys with the talent to be a starter within a year or two. That’s the sweet spot for the Raiders.

Getting a day one starter would be great, but there are bigger needs along the defensive front seven that you would ideally address before corner. The Raiders might not get around to a corner until the third round but after one or two picks elsewhere, they should really start looking hard at corner.

Smith and Amerson are the likely starters in 2017 but that doesn’t mean they should be thought of as starters beyond that point. If they have great seasons then by all means, they should be able to keep their starting gigs. But if they aren’t able to improve over 2016, the Raiders need to be ready to replace them. Drafting a corner by the fourth round at the latest will go a long way towards ensuring they are ready to replace one or both of those two after next season.

I have a number of needs ahead of cornerback on my offseason rankings for the Raiders, but would be perfectly happy to see the Raiders take corner ahead of those needs because of the way this draft is made up. Reggie McKenzie has been trying to address the corner position since he first got to Oakland and this year provides a big opportunity to set up at least one corner position for a long time.

Hell, I wouldn’t be mad if the Raiders decided to draft two corners this year, that’s how good the class is.

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