NFL Oakland Raiders: Why Lito Sheppard Aquisition Is Better Than You Think

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IAugust 26, 2011

NFL Oakland Raiders: Why Lito Sheppard Aquisition Is Better Than You Think

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    After signing Terrelle Pryor from the NFL supplemental draft, the Oakland Raiders strike late again, adding cornerback Lito Sheppard. I can already hear many in Raider Nation saying, "This isn't anything big. He's not that good anymore!"

    It's much bigger than you think.

    The former, Eagle, Jet and Viking may not be the top corner he once was, but this is a solid signing. 

    Here's why.

Scheme Fit

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    The Raiders are and always have been a bump-and-run, man coverage-type of football team. Sheppard is and always has been a bump-and-run-type of corner, so that he fits nicely into the Raiders' defensive scheme.

    DeAngelo Hall is a multiple Pro Bowler but we couldn't tell when he was a Raider because bump and run isn't his forte. He's made a lot of big plays since leaving the Raiders because he gets to play zone and off man coverage.

    I don't care how good a player is, if he doesn't fit what you do, he will flop on your team. There's no worries on that with Sheppard because he will get to do what he does best in Raider Nation.

    Remember, in 2009 he played on an island opposite Revis Island. 

Depth

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    Don't worry about Sheppard no longer being an elite corner because he doesn't have to be. Sure it would be nice if Sheppard could rekindle that type of fire but the Raiders can win with Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson.

    So far this preseason, Demarcus Van Dyke is growing fast as a corner, but the Raiders' depth in the secondary has been exposed. Sheppard still has enough in the tank to be an effective No. 3 corner that the Raiders really need.

    He may even go to No. 4 as Van Dyke improves.

    A pass defense that's four- or five-deep at corner is a great pass defense. 

Veteran

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    Sheppard has done plenty of bumping and running over his nine-year NFL career, so his experience is valuable. Not just in his play but he can help the Raiders' cornerbacks coach, Hall of Famer Rod Woodson teach the youngsters how to do it.

    Any player would listen to Woodson, but veterans provide that extra pair of eyes and mouth. Sheppard has been a top corner in the NFL and widely respected in the league so the youngsters will listen to him as well.

    Asomugha, as great as he is, is known for keeping to himself, so Routt and Johnson could learn a thing or two.

    Van Dyke and Chimdi Checkwa will especially benefit from Sheppard's presence.

Can Make Some Cuts at Position

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    The Raiders have some corners on the team that need badly to be set free. They may even be decent cornerbacks who can play for any other team but just can catch on to all the bumping and running the Raiders do.

    Beyond Routt and Johnson, the Raiders are sure to keep Van Dyke, Chekwa and Sheppard this year. The Raiders kept five corners last year, so burn victims Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware are likely gone.

    A team is only as strong as their weakest link.

    Sheppard, Chekwa and Van Dyke make much better weak links than McFadden, Ware and Joey Porter.

Overview

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    This is an underrated pick up as Sheppard is not the star cornerback that he once was. But he still has enough skill to help a team that has depth issues at the position the way the Raiders do.

    It will be a good thing for the youngsters at the position to get leadership and instruction from Sheppard too. Above all, guys like McFadden and Ware won't be in the game for opposing teams to get automatic completions on.

    Raider Nation will like this signing as the season goes on.

    The signing especially comes in handy with Van Dyke recently getting hurt.