The Las Vegas Raiders put an emphasis on revamping their personnel in the secondary this offseason. Among the few notable additions was that of cornerback Casey Hayward in free agency.
The Raiders used the 2021 NFL Draft to put the finishing touches on their influx of young talent over the top of their defense. However, the addition of Hayward provides this group of recent first and second-round picks with some much-needed experience.
The 31-year-old was a two-time All-Pro under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley during their time with the Los Angeles Chargers. He will now be reunited with Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus as an integral member of this secondary.
It appears Hayward has wasted no time in making an impression on his new teammates. Safety Johnathan Abram shared some high praise for his approach and knowledge of Bradley’s scheme.
“Probably Casey Hayward [Jr.],” Abram said. “Getting a chance to know him, be around him, he’s a guy who’s been in the system, going on six years. Just seeing the amount of things he saw. The starts that he got in this system. He pretty much knows it all. He goes out there, he talks every single play, in and out of the play. It’s just amazing to see. It’s very helpful for guys like me and other guys trying to learn this system. He’s been a tremendous help and I’m very glad he’s going to be a part of this team.”
It is encouraging to see that Hayward’s arrival has seemingly already started to pay some dividends for the younger members of this group. After all, any potential resurgence on the defensive side of the ball will need players like Abram along with cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen to make some significant strides in their development.
Abram’s comments indicate that Hayward’s connection to Bradley and defensive backs coach Ron Milus has helped make his transition as smooth as possible. The veteran could very well secure a starting role for himself if Arnette and Mullen struggle to find their footing.
It is no secret that the defense was an Achilles heel during the 2020 campaign after finishing 30th with 29.9 points per game. Hayward will be tasked with helping to spark a potential resurgence as the Raiders look to avoid another meltdown in the second half of the season.
After all, the offense managed to do their part by ranking No. 10 in scoring with 27.1 points per game last season.