When the Raiders take the field for Game 1 of the 2019 season, it’s likely that Gareon Conley will be at one cornerback spot and second-round pick Trayvon Mullen at the other.
Conley came on strong in 2018 and Mullen will be given every chance to win the job, even if pressed by Nick Nelson and Daryl Worley.
But fourth-round draft choice Isaiah Johnson could play a role, too. Especially later this season after he’s gained some experience and coaching.
Johnson, selected in the fourth round out of Houston, is athletically gifted at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds. He’s a former wide receiver and track star who made the switch to cornerback just two years ago, so he’s a prospect who still hasn’t reached his potential. He's not as polished yet as Mullen. Or, Johnson could be in over his head. It's why he wasn't selected until Round 4.
Johnson started five of 12 games at corner in 2017 and had two interceptions. In 2018 he started 10 games, had two interceptions, seven pass breakups and was in on 66 tackles.
Because of his relative inexperience, Johnson was seen as a fairly raw talent coming into the draft, and NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote that he was unlikely to start in the NFL as a rookie, “but patience and coaching could turn him into a disruptive press corner with starting potential by his second or third season.”
Michael Renner of the analytic website Pro Football Focus sees so much potential in Johnson that he believes he was a terrific pick for Oakland and listed him among his “steals’ of the recent draft.
Wrote Renner: “Johnson was seen as one of the draft’s biggest boom-or-bust prospects, though securing him in the fourth round eliminates much of the bust risk. That low investment could pay big dividends with Johnson’s traits. At 6-foot-2, 208 pounds with 33-inch arms, a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, 11-foot-1 broad jump, 6.81 three-cone (drill) and 4.-06 short shuttle, Johnson is how you’d build an ideal cornerback. He simply needs some seasoning after moving to corner from receiver only two years ago.”