Oakland Raiders- CB Eli Apple (Ohio State)
The Raiders have been in the news cycle a lot this offseason whether it be their free agent spending or potential relocation to Las Vegas in the near future. Oakland inked Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, Kelechi Osemele, Aldon Smith, and most recently safety Reggie Nelson from the Bengals. Future first ballot Hall of Famer Charles Woodson retired after the 2015 season leaving the Raiders secondary even weaker than it was before. Oakland was the 26th ranked passing defense last season allowing 259 yards per game. The signings of Smith and Nelson will certainly help the cause, but room for improvement still exists. Cornerback Eli Apple from Ohio State is a bigger, physical defender standing at 6’1 becoming trendier in the NFL. Apple and Smith would make for a nice press corner pairing on the outside for the Raiders. As I mentioned Apple is best known for his ability to control receivers with his physical style of play along with his competitive ball skills. Apple had 22 passes defended over the past two seasons with the Buckeyes. The downside on the Ohio State product is his tendency to become too grabby in coverage which will draw an automatic flag at the next level. Despite his size, Apple can also be an inconsistent tackler on the outside. The Raiders also have last year’s starter David Amerson and former first round pick DJ Hayden on the roster to potentially compete with Apple for the starting nod. Cornerback can be a challenging position to hit the ground running especially with the rule changes in the past several years (don’t tell that to Marcus Peters of the Chiefs). Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce and Keenan Allen is a formidable group in the AFC West. Oakland needs to hit on this first round cornerback selection as opposed to Hayden in 2013.