One of the big question marks concerning the Oakland Raiders this year is the safety position. FS Reggie Nelson had five INTs and made the Pro Bowl but that wasn’t a selection he really earned. Of his five INTs, at least two of them were a result of the ball being deflected first.
Plus he arrived late repeatedly on deep passes into the Raiders secondary so they were often completed. So often, the Raiders gave up more passes over 20 yards than any team in the entire NFL. SS Karl Joseph, the team’s 2016 1st-round pick, was a rookie and not at 100 percent from his torn ACL.
He played well in spots but covering opposing TEs doesn’t look like it will ever be a strength of his. The staying with them isn’t a problem at all for him but stopping them from catching the ball is. Joseph is 5’10” and today’s TEs are starting to get in the 6’7″, range so something has to give here.
That’s where 2017 2nd-round pick and steal Obi Melifonwu can come in and help. He’s 6’4″, 225 pounds, runs a 4.40 40, has a 44-inch vertical leap, good feet, fluid hips, and CB cover skills. He’s also one of the best in-the-box SSs against the run coming out so he fits the Raiders’ Cover-1/Cover-3 scheme.
That’s three players at two positions so one of them will have to be a backup this coming season. Joseph is at full strength now so he has the range to do everything needs to do as a single-high S. So perhaps Joseph and Nelson will end up competing for the starting FS spot.
I just can’t see where Melifonwu should sit while 6’7″ Travis Kelce tears Joseph up with his height.