Camp analysis: Defensive backs


Eighth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with players reporting to camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: RCB Nnamdi Asomugha, LCB Chris Johnson, SS Tyvon Branch, FS Hiram Eugene. Backups: CB Stanford Routt, S Mike Mitchell, S Michael Huff, Justin Miller, CB John Bowie, CB Jason Horton, CB Darrick Brown, S Jerome Boyd.

If Johnson plays as he did after taking over for much-maligned (and deservedly so) DeAngelo Hall last season, the Raiders may have the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL. Routt appears resigned to being a nickel back and got on Tom Cable’s bad side with some attitude issues so he’ll be watched closely by the coaching staff. Miller stepped in and played decently last season but is primarily a kickoff return specialist. Bowie was beaten often during offseason practices when Asomugha and Johnson didn’t attend OTAs. Huff could be arrested for loitering, given that he is always hanging around where plays are being made but never quite gets in on the action. Horton and Brown are the kind of physical specimens the Raiders love and hope there is a Johnson-type success story in one or both. Boyd is an intriguing conversion project, having played linebacker at Oregon, and caught Cable’s eye during the offseason.

The key battle: Mitchell vs. Eugene. The Raiders want Branch and Mitchell to be their safety tandem of the future, and claim their positions are interchangeable this year from strong to free.

What I think: A good pass rush is always huge with regard to a secondary, but it’s even bigger where the Raiders are concerned considering their play at safeties. They’re expecting big things out of Branch and Mitchell, and bottom line is the former was a fourth-round draft pick who was hurt most of last year and the latter was an out-of-nowhere draft pick that some teams didn’t have on their board until the sixth round or later. A huge gamble, but one that could change the tone of the entire defense if they’re right.

What could go wrong: Mitchell has already had hamstring issues, both in training for his predraft workout and after he joined the Raiders. Johnson was almost too good to be true last year as a 29-year-old first-time starter. If he reverts to journeyman status, it will be a long year opposite Asomugha.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • HayesDaze37

    Last year, the Raiders had the 13th-most Sacks in the NFL…and only three other Defenses scored more Safeties (3) than the Raiders’ 2. Those are weird stats for one of the worst Defenses in the league.

    We already know our LB’s can tackle. We know last year’s front-line personnel created at least SOME havoc, or we wouldn’t have had the 13th-most Sacks in the league (just ahead of the Super Bowl Cardinals).

    We do not know what the Safety position/s hold for us this year, but it can pretty much only get better…and, if the Safety position is an improvement over last year, the Defense should be more than just a little bit better.

    Ahhh…optimism. Like a breath of fresh air.

  • I Smoke!! I Drink!!
    Matt Jones!!


  • Look, if the Raiders can’t make use of Randy Moss, it’s really hard to see what any Receiver here could do.

  • I do coke!!!
    Matt Jones!!



    I know you know bro!

  • I thought ole Al Davis hit the Lottery when he got Randy Moss. I was hyped!!!!!!

  • When we had Moss, Did we have:

    Diff team!!!!

  • We didn’t have Miller!!!
    Can you imagine how many passes Miller could have had if Moss was on the team?
    1st look Moss, and the 2nd look is Miller.

  • AZ Raider

    Who the h*ll did Randy Moss have throwing him the ball? Didn’t we lead the league in sacks allowed his 2nd year? We had no supporting cast for moss… 1.5 seconds to throw the ball, aint enough, and I don’t care who you have at WR. You think our O-line is bad now? That’s when it was at its worst (When we had Randy). Some washed up old vets taking snaps and a turnstyle LT LOL…

  • 3rd look, Sack!!!!


  • That was the worst Oline I have ever watched next to the Texans in their 1st year.

  • AZ Raider

    Yeah, what the h3ll is everyone complaining about? We could be the 2005-2006 Oakland Riaders LOL… See, we’re improving!

  • Randy still caught 60, over 1000yds. But, something smelled “fishy”

  • HayesDaze37

    KoolKell Says:

    Look, if the Raiders can’t make use of Randy Moss, it’s really hard to see what any Receiver here could do.


    Again…waiting for the point?

    That we should never take another receiver — even the slowest (or fastest) WR available — ever again?

    If it wasn’t done your way, KK — it wasn’t done right? Right? Yeah, thought so.

    But, you won’t get too specific about what you KNOW will be better than what the Raiders have going on right now, will you? No way.

    Tell us what your SURE-FIRE, GUARANTEED, BETTER THAN AL WAY of doing things, KK.

    I’d love to know what your draft picks would’ve been — easy to do now that they’ve all been selected — and I’d like to compare those picks to what Al actually did, KK. You even have a head-start, considering the dark Sulak mystery (will he be back??).

    My bet is, KK, that even with the head-start, your picks won’t fare better than Al’s picks…and that would just be too funny.

    C’mon, KK — You want to cut to the chase? Give us your draft picks — different than Al’s, but the players had to have been there when the Raiders selected. Then we’ll check them against Al’s picks as the year goes on — good and bad, down the line.

    It’s not the most scientific test…but it MIGHT narrow you down to a FOOTBALL opinion for once. (As opposed to you HAVING a narrow opinion, period.)

    Fact is…your picks probably won’t do any better than Al’s will. Got it in you to go up against The Old Man, with your, ummm…”credibility” on the line?

  • AZ Raider

    700 somthing i think in 2006 though, and it still smelled fishy LOL…

  • HayesDaze37

    And, KK — You being “hyped” over the Randy Moss signing — as opposed to being more wary of the signing — says a lot already. Moss was never right for this team or this coast…and even if he were, it would’ve taken a lot more than his mediocre effort to show it.

    You probably thought the idiot Romanowski’s signing was the best LB signing the Raiders ever had, too.

    Starting to understand you a little more clearly now…

  • BS Detector


    KoolKell would never accept a challenge such as yours. She is too weak minded to open her mind sufficiently enough to let some realism seep in.

    I HIGHLY DOUBT that KK would ever subject himself to such abject failure and the ensuing persecution.

  • Look, KoolKell’s name is not on title, Al Davis’ IS.

    I’m just commenting on a blog, as someone who’s watched the Raiders longer than 99.8 percent of you.

    Don’t take it personal.

  • BS Detector

    Koolkell is sooo predictable


  • BS Detector

    what are you afraid of little man? He of little faith in his own abilities.


  • BS Detector


    You are the phukkin man by the way

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    Wait a sec, I thought I was tha man….????

    -A true fan

  • HayesDaze37

    Wait a second, KK…

    You’re the one who has absolutely nothing positive to say about the Raiders/Al’s draft choices. You hammer and hammer away, but I’ve asked you WHO would you have taken in the same spots?

    Now…it’s just a meek “I have an opinion”…as opposed to your sure-fired almighty pontificating on the subject of Al’s bad GM moves?

    What are your picks, KK? You even know Mike Crabtree’s still not healthy…that should give you some help, too. You gonna take Crabtree?

    C’mon, man — everybody wants to know WHO KK WOULD HAVE PICKED in each round.

    It’s important. C’mon, Kell.

  • Play with yourself, lol

  • HayesDaze37

    BSD — Thx…but it’s not about me. It’s about the TEAM and the TRUTH — even when it (figuratively) hurts ME.

    What a martyr!

  • HayesDaze37




  • HayesDaze37

    Nice read, Lynn. Dunno if he’ll sign either place, but here’s hoping the kid gets a real shot somewhere before he’s done. Even back here, if he doesn’t get signed…

  • I wonder who that 199th pick was for NE ?

  • A real muther tucker I’m sure

  • AZ Raider

    My 1st rounders:

    2003 = Nnamdi Asomugha

    2004 = Larry Fitzgerald

    2005 = Jammal Brown

    2006 = Michael Huff (Deangelo Williams was gone)

    2007 = Jamarcus Russell

    2008 = Darren McFadden (Can’t pass him up)

    2009 = Dunno… Depends how the above worked out LOL.

  • RaiderJohn

    who thinks J. Russ is showing up at camp weighing closer to 255 llbs. or 290 llbs.? Whoever guesses closest wins a prize…

  • AZ Raider


  • HayesDaze37

    There simply is no “right” way to draft. Draft experts and “genius” GM’s need to get lucky just as often (or more) than just having made good evaluations. The evaluation processes aren’t so different for each team…and ALL teams have the same info on the players (some more than others, depending on who/what service/s they subscribe to).

    The “genius” of Belichik lies in #199 Tom Brady…and BB’s roll of the dice by leaving him on the field over the veteran Drew Bledsoe. That act of “genius” is the difference between BB’s sad legacy in Cleveland and that in New England. Had Brady broke his leg that first Playoff game, would the NE dynasty have happened? Don’t know…but one good, or bad, break sometimes can affect history in ways one can never predict.

    NOBODY knew back then that Brady would have 3 SB rings by now. Nobody except KK, maybe.

    Let’s hope the only breaks we hear of for the Raiders are things like “break-out year” or “break-away speed” for once. Or a lot more than once.

    *****And, no, all you trolls and known haters — I do not believe the Raiders are where they are because of bad breaks. The Raiders are where they are because they deserve to be there…

    …0-0 to start the year.*****

  • HayesDaze37

    JaMarcus is a 267-lb-er if I’ve ever seen one. But he moves like a 260-lb-er at worst!

    An athletic 267-lb-er is alright by me.

  • 259lbs.

  • omniscience

    Raider fan 36 years read you guys go back and fourth all the time we will only see what this season brings. I here who we drafted who we didn”t cant stop run ,cant pass, should have kept moss,why is Jruss not in probowl ect.True Raider fans just wait and see if we can get it done and enjoy watching RAIDER BALL.We all know we had to rebuild after Superbowl lost alot of vets you know who they are. like are whole O line and many more on the O .Al tried to reload with players like Moss,Sapp ect. The Raider way instead of rebuild but I feel we finally are rebuilt thru draft. Jruss is second year give him a chance Receivers are young lets see what they can do in starting roles, RBs if healthy should do well and have a quality TE O line will be in 3rd year of Cable system should do even better.Saying that if we can keep D off the field we will look better in the stats dept as many of you base your knowledge on. many yards aganist our D came late in 4th qt how many tims in the last 2 years would we have the run shut down for 3 qts on the field most the time than they would break 50+ run there is your run stat. Ryan was no help how many games would we be up our just need a stop and he would go away from the preasure we been putting and go to prevent that is 5 years. I think Cable,Marshall and a New young rebuilt team should give us fans something to cheer for on Sundays. Win lose or tie Raider till I die Go Raiders………

  • dr ice

    i see theres alot of questions about branch in college let me be of some assistance i lived in ct my whole life uconn football is still a new thing but im a fan but i bleed black n siver he started out as a db and special teams his junior and senoir year started at safety and let me tell u he hit like a truck also a great special teams player u saw a taste of it last year hopefully him and mitchell can give opposing wr shaky hands and alligator arms