The first Las Vegas Raiders Draft is a wrap. The Silver and Black needed to add explosive playmakers and talent upgrades throughout their roster, specifically at receiver and the secondary.
Vegas splurged on defense in free agency but they still had starting voids at linebacker and corner which made finding an alpha at those positions an option in the first round. They also needed upgrades in the secondary and along the defensive line.
However, we knew the team led by an offensive head coach and headed to a new market could spend all their picks on offense by drafting a receiver and/or new franchise quarterback. Here is how the Raiders did in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Round 1, pick 12: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs really showcased his athleticism with a 4.27 40-yard dash time, 42-inch vertical jump and 131 inches in the broad jump at the NFL Combine. Many people predicted this pick because the Raiders love that sort of athleticism, historically.
However, the biggest issue with the Raiders pick is how they passed on Ceedee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy who were the consensus 1A and 1B receiver. With all three on the board, L.V. could’ve even moved back or taken a defensive player and got who was left at 19.
Either way, they pulled the trigger on Ruggs who had less injury flags than his teammate Jeudy. The other knock on Ruggs is his production as he never surpassed 1,000 receiving yards at Alabama. Still, Ruggs doesn’t have the same questions about his hands as other speed receivers the Raiders took. They get a B- for gambling on speed over production.
Round 1, pick 19: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Arnette is another player who scouts were all over the place about. Some had Arnette sneaking into the back end of the first round well others had him atop the second or third round.
Either way, there were also rumors about Arnette as a sleeper. Some said he was as good as his OSU counterpart Jeff Okudah. He had five interceptions and 140 tackles in four years at Ohio State.
For the Raiders, they get a corner who can step in and compete as a starter on the outside. He’s got the footwork and technique to do well in coverage and he brings the size and willingness to help out versus the run.
Again, the biggest knock on this pick is who was still on the board as many had Jeff Gladney rated higher. I will give it a C+ for that reason and the fact they passed on some generational talents at linebacker.
Round 3, pick 80: Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky
Many people see this pick as a flier since Bowden played QB, RB and receiver at Kentucky. Last year he rushed for 1,468 yards nd 13 touchdowns as well as caught 30 balls for 348 receiving yards a season after he caught 67 passes for 745 yards.
Vegas slates him as a running back, wildcat quarterback and developmental receiver. A lot of people are overlooking that value on a team that desperately needed offensive playmakers last year.
Again, this is a highly productive collegiate player with the explosiveness to help the Raiders out on Sundays. They’ll have to develop him and use him but he could pay off. This is a C+ pick only because the team had other needs.
Round 3, pick 81: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
The Raiders really stuck to the strategy of trying to get Derek Carr weapons by selecting Edwards.
Edwards could’ve went higher had a knee injury not cost him his final two games or a foot injury cost him Draft.
Either way, the Raiders get their big receiver to compliment Ruggs. Edwards will need to polish his route running and concentration but he could easily develop into a starter who can stretch the field and make contested catches on all levels.
That makes 2.5 receivers taken in four picks. I’ll give this pick a C+ on upside too.
Round 3, pick 100 (from Patriots): Tanner Muse, S, Clemson
Las Vegas went back to Clemson by selecting Muse. Muse offers the size and speed to compete as a hybrid safety and linebacker for the Raiders. He’ll play backer at least initially for the Silver and Black.
Again, Muse is a winner as a three year starter from Clemson. He can help the Raiders finally erase tight ends as he competes in the linebacker corps. He is good at tracking the ball and making plays in the secondary. However, he’s got to adjust to the physicality of linebacker and improve his footwork and hips in coverage.
Muse is another C pick based on value and need. He does have some upside if the Raiders develop him which gives this a C value. He can also contribute as a special teammer.
Round 4, pick 109 (from Lions): John Simpson, G, Clemson
Simpson is big, strong and athletic enough to help the Raiders upfront right away. He can step into the starting right guard spot if Gabe Jackson is no longer there or can get mentored at left guard under Richie Incognito.
He is powerful enough to handle man assignments and agile enough to get up to next level. The Raiders got great value and addressed a need. This could go down as one of their best picks in the entire draft so I will give this one an A.
Round 4, pick 139 (from Buccaneers through Patriots): Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Robertson is another quality pick late who can compete for starting top as a slot corner. The Raiders have LaMarcus Joyner and Nevin Lawson at the position already which means Robertson can learn from them before developing into their roles.
EIther way, he was a productive corner in college who can play inside or outside. His size makes him better on the inside at least initially. Robertson is physical and not afraid of smaller receivers which is the swagger the Raiders need in the secondary. You also can’t sleep on those 14 interceptions in three seasons. Again, I’ll give this pick a B-.
Kudos if you thought the Raiders would really sit out the final rounds of the NFL Draft because I did not think they would. Still, the Raiders continued building their culture around winning by adding three players from Clemson and two prospects from Alabama and Ohio State.
No, the Raiders did not answer every need. They deserve some flack for once again zigging when everyone zags as they took Ruggs and Arnette over higher rated players at their respective positions.
Sure, Vegas could have got more value in the first two rounds but they reached for winners and guys they really believed in. This is a B- draft but that will get determined by how the Raiders actually develop these men.