Similar to the feelings around the Raiders following the 2019 NFL Draft, Raiders fans appear hesitant to rejoice or riot following this year’s draft. While the range of reactions varies from joy to disbelief, many fans maintain faith in the team’s braintrust.
After the 2019 draft, the general consensus was fairly negative due to the Raiders spending their fourth overall pick on a player many had much lower on draft boards. However, fans were quick to eat their words as the Raiders went and put together one of the best rookie classes of all time.
Feelings in the draft can ebb and flow, and this draft was no different. Henry Ruggs III being the first receiver off the board as the 12th pick surprised some fans. Many, such as myself, were seen clamoring for Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb prior to the pick selection. However, it was very quickly brought up that Ruggs happened to be the fastest receiver of the draft, and fans were seen contemplating whether or not Al Davis still pulls some strings. All three of the top receivers have incredible potential, but few expected to see Ruggs go first.
Seven picks later, Raiders fans were hit with the biggest stunner of the draft: Damon Arnette, the cornerback from Ohio State. On draft boards, Arnette was overlooked due to sharing the field with Jeff Okudah, the third overall pick. Fans were shocked to see Arnette’s name called, but some digging silenced some of the doubters. Arnette allowed three touchdowns in his entire career at Ohio State and also tied Okudah for the most tackles amongst OSU corners. While he might not be the 19th best talent in the draft, Arnette should fit in well with the team and complement Jonathan Abram’s physicality.
After a quiet second round, the Raiders got creative, taking Kentucky RB/WR Lynn Bowden with the 80th overall pick. Bowden holds eight records at Kentucky. Analysts started drawing Taysom Hill comparisons. If any coach likes to get weird and knows how to use him, it has to be Jon Gruden. Fans were very excited to see the Raiders land such a unique utility player and are excited to learn where he will fit in with the team.
The 81st pick also surprised some fans, as not many expected the team to draft back to back receivers, but the Raiders would land Bryan Edwards, the South Carolina receiver. Edwards has a shaky past with injuries, but if the Raiders felt the urge to draft their third receiver of the draft, he must be special.
However, the Raiders also added Clemson safety Tanner Muse to finalize the third round. Muse profiles as a hybrid linebacker, known for laying the lumber.
In the fourth round, the Raiders solidified their offensive line, taking Clemson guard John Simpson. Fans saw this as the team’s final touch to giving Derek Carr the weapons to compete for years. Not only do the Raiders already boast one of the best offensive lines in the game, but they continue building towards the future.
Great Raiders Finish
To finish out the fourth (and the entire draft) the Raiders took Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson. The pick lit a fire under fans and analysts alike. Robertson, considered by many, one of the biggest steals of the draft. The first three rounds usually net stars. Yet, the final four bring championship depth. Mayock knows this. The Raiders chose Maxx Crosby in the fourth last year. Fans expect similar production from this year’s fourth-rounder.
As we have seen from last year, Mike Mayock knows the process. Unless he got lucky last year (which he did not), Raiders fans can expect incredible returns on picks.