Grading Raiders secondary

January 18, 2013, 4:30 pm
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We continue our review of the Raiders' 4-12 season by looking at each position group and assigning grades. Up next -- the secondary…

CB Brandian Ross -- 50.0 burn rate
CB Michael Huff -- 49.4 burn rate, 7 TDs allowed, 13 passes defensed
FS Matt Giordano -- 58.3 burn rate, 5 TDs allowed, 5 passes defensed
SS Tyvon Branch -- 60.0 burn rate, 3 TDs allowed, 3 passes defensed
CB Phillip Adams -- 53.8 burn rate, 1 TD allowed, 5 passes defensed
CB Coye Francies -- primarily special teamer, 10 defensive snaps, 1 pass defensed
CB Cory Nelms -- played one game, season finale, on special teams
CB Joselio Hanson -- 75.0 burn rate, 2 TDs allowed, 5 passes defensed
CB Chimdi Chekwa -- former fourth-round pick promoted from practice squad Dec. 10, 1 pass broken up
S Mike Mitchell -- 75.0 burn rate, 2 TDs allowed, 1 sack

No longer married to the bump-and-run or man-defense, it was a beleaguered unit that looked nothing like the preseason blueprint. Who could have predicted that one starting cornerback -- Ron Bartell -- would be lost to injury in the opener, return and then get cut, while the other starting corner -- Shawntae Spencer -- would be lost for the season in Week 2? Or that, as a result of early-season injuries, free safety Michael Huff would be forced to move to cornerback?

As such, finishing 20th against the pass, at 235.4 yards surrendered through the air per game, and giving up 28 touchdown passes, which was tied for the eighth-most in the NFL, might actually be encouraging signs for a unit in constant flux, making the midseason cut of Pat Lee all the more curious. Same with the seeming reluctance to promote Chimdi Chekwa up from the practice squad.

Still, the Raiders only had 11 interceptions, with two apiece from Adams, Giordano, Hanson and Huff. Branch, meanwhile, had a tough season, in part due to nagging injuries after signing a four-year contract, worth a reported $26.6 million, with $17.1 million guaranteed, following his being slapped with the franchise tag.

At least the secondary will benefit from continuity from the retention of defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and DB coaches Clayton Lopez and Johnnie Lynn. Here's the thing, though, even as the secondary seemed to gel at the end of the season, with Ross especially opening eyes, more uncertainty awaits.

Per Stats Inc., Huff (49.4 burn rate on 40 of 81 for 716 yards, 7 TDs allowed and 13 passes defensed) had comparable if not better numbers than former Raiders corners Nnamdi Asomugha (60.6 burn rate, 40 of 66 for 750 yards, 7 TDs allowed, 12 passes defensed) and Stanford Routt (56.1 burn rate, 23 of 41 for 400 yards, 3 TDs allowed, 4 passes defensed) but he should move back to free safety, Plus seven defensive backs are facing some sort of free agency. Consider: Giordano, Hanson, Mitchell and Spencer will be unrestricted, Adams will be restricted and Francies and Ross will be exclusive rights free agents. Decisions, decisions.

Grade: D