Pair of Rookie Corners May Play Special Roles for Raiders

Keith McGill of Utah and T.J. Carrie of Ohio have size, experience to match up with tall receivers and contribute on special teams

With the draft now over, the next things up on the Raiders’ schedule are rookie minicamp this Friday and Saturday, organized team activities (OTAs) in late May and June and mandatory minicamp for the whole roster June 17-19.

It will be over these next two months that the Raiders get to see first-hand how a pair of drafted rookie cornerbacks may fit into their 2014 plans.

Of course, Oakland is set with its top three cornerbacks in former 49ers Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, both signed as free agents, and D.J. Hayden, the team’s top pick in 2013. But the Raiders selected a pair of corners with back-to-back selections on Day 3 of the draft that could play special roles.

First to be added was Keith McGill, a 6-foot-3, 211-pound converted safety from Utah. McGill was projected as a second- or third-round pick, but the Raiders grabbed him in the fourth round with the 116th selection, getting good value for a defensive back who was a big-time playmaker at Utah. As a senior he was first team All-Pac-12 and a third-team All-America selection. In his Utah career, McGill had 12 interceptions, 21 passes defensed, 109 tackles and blocked two kicks.

McGill did have some worrying numbers at Utah his senior year, however, including allowing 29 of 59 passes to be completed in his area of coverage. That’s not good. But the former basketball player also was among the tallest cornerbacks available in the draft and has the ability to match up with bigger receivers and lock down opponents in press coveage. If McGill can develop quickly during training camp, it’s possible he could figure into coverage schemes or situations when the Raiders face extra-large wideouts. With his size and kick-blocking abilities, he could also find a role on special teams.

McGill met with the Raiders in Oakland before the draft and said he had an idea Oakland might take him.

“I had a private visit there and they really liked my ability to press off the line and how I was able to move,” he told Rebecca Corman of the Raiders’ website. “They said not a lot of other guys can do what I was doing. I kind of got a good feel.”

McGill had off-the-field problems in college, being arrested for DUI and receiving stolen property before his senior season, according to a report from Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. But, as McDonald noted, McGill stayed out of trouble and had a fine final season in a passing conference against some outstanding wideouts.

“I’ve been trying to stay clean and show everybody that was the past,” McGill told McDonald. “There comes a point of time in life where you make a decision to become a man or remain a boy and that’s what I did before the 2013 season.”

With their next pick on Day 3 – the Raiders had no selections in the fifth or sixth rounds – Oakland selected cornerback T.J. Carrie of Ohio University (and De La Salle High in Concord). Oakland used its first seventh-round selection and 219th overall on the 6-foot, 206-pounder.

His best chance to contribute in 2014 may be on special teams rather than as a corner. He was a third-team all-conference pick as a defensive back in 2013, but was first team as a punter returner. He averaged 12.7 yards per return last season. He also played well as a gunner on the punt team. His stock dropped a bit during the draft process because he wasn’t able to do drills at the NFL Combine after a knee injury. But he’s healthy now.

“He’s probably a better player than where we drafted him,” McKenzie told McDonald.

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