Mike Mayock's Raiders makeover continued in the 2020 offseason with another promising draft class and a productive free-agency period.
Those changes didn't immediately answer lingering questions about Mayock's team, which will follow coach Jon Gruden to the desert of Las Vegas for its inaugural season in Nevada. One of the biggest questions: How will the Raiders' secondary look when Week 1 arrives?
Mayock wasn't bashful about his team's need to improve at receiver and linebacker, which he addressed by drafting wideouts Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, playmaker Lynn Bowden and Clemson defender Tanner Muse. There was somewhat of a surprise, though, when Mayock spent two picks on cornerbacks and also signed Prince Amukamara during free agency.
Add those new corners in with safety Damarious Randall, who will be expected to replace the since-departed Karl Joseph, and the Raiders have quite the new cast on the back end of their defense.
"I am most anxious to see the secondary," Mayock said, via The Athletic. "We've got some good young talent and I am anxious to see who competes. It's awesome to have (Prince) Amukamara because he brings a veteran presence, but we have a bunch of really young corners and safeties that we think have some talent."
Mayock stunned evaluators when he spent the 19th-overall pick on Ohio State corner Damon Arnette, the second half of a cornerbacking tandem that featured third-overall pick Jeff Okudah and helped the Buckeyes reach the College Football Playoff in 2019. Typically, a first-round selection brings with it an expectation for that player to make an impact early, but Raiders fans might harbor some trepidation when it comes to standout Ohio State corners drafted in the first round thanks to former 24th-overall pick Gareon Conley's underwhelming time with the team. Amukamara's presence might ease some of the pressure placed on Arnette's shoulders, though, setting up for a smoother transition that could pay off in the long run for the Silver and Black.
A big question mark is one of last year's first-round picks, safety Johnathan Abram. The boisterous rookie was an early focus of HBO's Hard Knocks but appeared in just one game before his season ended. How he and Randall -- or Erik Harris, who will be competing with Randall for the job -- mesh will be an important focus of the strength of this secondary.
Randall had an uneventful 2019 campaign as he was forced to fight through injuries, but he is a year removed from a very productive 2018 season in Cleveland. He's been in Mayock's sights since he was at Arizona State.
"I had him as the No. 1 free safety coming out of college and I think he has movement skills and he's been a corner and a safety, so you gotta like the fact that he can run," Mayock said. "I think he is invested in a prove-it type year and we're in a really good situation because we really like Erik Harris. I thought he had a solid year last year, too."
We're still a month or so from in-game action, but with camp in sight, the clock has started ticking. It's about time for these guys to start earning their keep.