The Raiders have been running the gamut of corners and defensive backs lately. They are certainly doing their due diligence in taking a closer look at every possible option. The latest cornerback to get the private workout treatment is Clemson speedster Marcus Gilchrist.
New Raider secondary coach (and Hall of Famer) Rod Woodson held a private workout with Gilchrist on Thursday. The interest in Gilchrist, like a few other prospects the Raiders have looked at, is his ability to play both corner and safety. With the Raiders having to address both positions next season, the corner/safety players in the draft have received extra attention. He has also been praised for his football intelligence. And, after the success of Nnamdi Asomugha, intelligence from the corner position is highly rated.
Gilchrist also has good speed. He was among the top cornerbacks at the combine in the 40 yard dash at 4.45. He was second among corners in the vertical leap at 38.5 inches, and showed great strength as he was second among corners with 26 reps on the 225 lb bench press. He posted a 10-6 in the broad jump at his pro day which would have put him among the top corners at the combine. His numbers in the 3 cone and shuttle drills were not terrible but certainly not on the elite level.
He is built more like a strong safety at 5-9, 192 lbs but with great speed for his size. Last season he had 62 tackles, 10 passes defended, and one interception. His junior season in 2009, he had a whopping 107 tackles to go along with 6 passes defended. All very strong safety like numbers — a position at which the Raiders are set.
He was an ACC Honorable Mention (sound familiar?) at kick returner and returned punts as well. The Raiders could be looking for a punt returner so that would certainly factor in. He could team up with his former teammate, Jacoby Ford. Ford on kick returns and Gilchrist on kick returns.
Other Raider DB interest
The Gilchrist private workout comes on the heels of the Raiders holding a private workout for Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith. He is a tremendous talent with some off the field issues as well as some character concerns that could scare a lot of teams away. But his on field performance and measurements are elite level. Many have compared his skillset and size to Asomugha. But in character, he is the anti-Nnamdi. Still as one of the top cornerback talents in this draft at pick #48, he would be very tempting if he were still on the board.
Rumor has it the Raiders also have some interest in the two safeties out of Delaware, Anthony Bratton and Anthony Walters. Raider scouts got an up close and personal look at them at the Delaware pro day in March and the two put on an impressive showing.
In all, there were fifteen teams there to get a close look at either Devlin or the safety combo of Walters and Bratton. Devlin is the highest profile of the three mostly because he is a quarterback. He has also had ESPN’s Mel Kiper mentioning him as a possible sleeper pick for some time now.
The Raiders may have had some level of interest in all three players. But while Devlin did nothing to impress scouts, Bratton and Walters helped their respective causes and may have even generated some interest that wasn’t there previous to the workout.
The two already had some impressive awards and statistics. Walters, a 5-11 cornerback/safety, was the Colonial Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, after last season when he finished with 41 tackles and four interceptions. Hard to fly too far under the radar with that piece of hardware. At his pro day, he ran a respectable 4.50 40 yard dash, a 36.5 vertical leap, and a 10-6 broad jump.
Having played both corner and safety makes Walters an attractive option for the Raiders. The ability to play safety for the Raiders often means they will be lined up in man coverage so they need their safeties to be a bit versatile.
Bratton was first team all-conference at strong safety after he had 66 tackles, 8 passes defended, and 2 interceptions last season. He is an inch taller than Walters at 6-0 and had almost identical pro day workout numbers to Walters across the board.
Walters is expected to come off the board in round five and Bratton should be about a round behind him. The Raiders would be most interested in Walters mainly because they have a need at free safety as well as corner and Walters has experience at both positions.