NFL Draft 2018: Raiders Hall of Fame CB Mike Haynes talks draft, Oakland defense

If the Raiders hope to get back to Super Bowl contention, it will have to come with improvement on the defensive end, according to Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes.

A member of the Raiders’ Super Bowl 28-winning team, Haynes knows what it takes to get to the promised land, and with the NFL Draft set to kick off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, the Hall of Famer believes Oakland needs to address that side of the ball.

“The defense has got to be the best part of their team,” Haynes, who teamed up with Lester Hayes in the 1980s to form one of the best cornerback tandems of all time, told Omnisport. “Always it has to be if you’re expected to go to the Super Bowl.”

The Hall of Famer himself is a survivor of prostate cancer. He said he was fortunate to find out about his diagnosis early and encourages men to do the same.

“I think I’m more like an average guy, I don’t like going to the doctor, I don’t want to know if I have this or that, or at least I didn’t, but now everything’s changed,” Haynes said. “I realized I’m really lucky to be alive and a lot of it was I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, so our campaign is not about being lucky, but being proactive and understanding that if prostate cancer runs in your family, that you’re more likely to get it and you need to start having conversations with your doctor.”

To find out more about the NFL’s program on prostate cancer awareness, go to knowyourstats.org.

Toughest tests: Playing in the NFC South is tough enough, but away matchups against both the Packers and Steelers adds to that. Pittsburgh is part of the AFC North series, and drawing the toughest of those teams on the road is not a desirable outcome for the dome-dwelling Falcons. The matchup with Green Bay comes with both teams finishing third in their respective divisions. That normally would seem like a good draw, but not against a team led by Aaron Rodgers, who’s coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in 2017.

Biggest breaks: Playing against fellow NFC third-place teams gives the Falcons some bad luck, but also some good. They’ll get the Cardinals at home in what should be one of the more winnable matchups of the year; Atlanta scraped together a respectable 7-9 season in 2017 but is moving toward rebuild mode. And the Falcons getting the Browns on the road is always a nice addition to the schedule.
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