ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Jon Gruden may have shown his hand a bit on Monday by releasing veteran cornerback David Amerson and revealing that the Oakland Raiders will be rebuilding their defense and, in particular, their secondary.
With last year’s first-rounder, cornerback Gareon Conley, still an unknown after playing in just two games as a rookie, and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu having appeared in five games, it is as if the Raiders have extra picks in the first two rounds come April, no?
As such, and with the best corners already off the board before he has the Raiders losing a coin flip to the San Francisco 49ers and going No. 10 overall, Todd McShay goes linebacker for Oakland in his ESPN Insider Mock Draft 2.0. And no, not for Butkas Award winner Roquan Smith, who is still available.
Rather than pair Smith inside with NaVorro Bowman, who must also be re-signed, as Mel Kiper did in his most recent mock, McShay selected Virginia Tech outside linebacker/defensive end Tremaine Edmunds, a young 6-foot-5, 250-pounder who would also address an immediate need.
Especially if Bruce Irvin becomes a salary cap casualty.
Khalil Mack needs help from a bookend pass-rusher and, while Irvin does have 15 sacks in two seasons with Oakland, you wonder if he should have had more with the numerous double- and triple-teams Mack faced.
“Having a talent like that, and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense,” new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said of Mack recently. “We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency.”
Edmunds has good genes, what with his father Ferrell a two-time Pro Bowl tight end with the Miami Dolphins in 1989 and 1990. While Edmunds was not necessarily a sack machine for the Hokies, he played well against the run and was versatile and disruptive. He led Virginia Tech with 109 tackles, with 14 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
In fact, putting Edmunds on the field with Mack, who is in line for a huge contract extension this offseason, and Irvin, who would save the Raiders $8.25 million against the cap by being cut, might actually make the most sense.