Raiders gamble on offense to begin Vegas era

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Raiders officially took the Las Vegas name in April at the NFL Draft. To kickoff a new era, the Raiders honed in on the offensive side of the ball to offer a challenge to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. How did the Raiders do? Let’s go through each pick and see how they. could fit on the 53-man roster.

No. 12 overall pick: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Al Davis would be proud as GM Mike Mayock took the fastest receiver at the Combine in the draft. The Raiders could not lose here as they had full range of any receiver they wanted. They went with the former member of the Crimson Tide, which will be a second chance for Vegas to get it right with a former Alabama wideout as they failed with now Dallas Cowboy, Amari Cooper. Going into 2020, Ruggs will have a fun rivalry with his former teammate, Jerry Jeudy, as Jeudy would later be drafted by the Denver Broncos.

Grade: A-

No. 19 overall pick: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

On the surface, the pick of Arnette was a head-scratcher as many predicted him to be a second or even third-round pick. However, Arnette, in his four years as a starting DB, never allowed more than one touchdown in a single season, which is impressive as he would be the corner thrown at more with third overall pick, Jeff Okudah, being on the opposite side of him. Arnette brings a level of competitiveness that is desperately needed in Vegas’ secondary, but with corners like Jaylon Johnson, Trevon Diggs, and Kristian Fulton still on the board, the Raiders took a player with more potential risk than reward.

Grade: B-

No. 80 overall pick: Lynn Bowden Jr, RB, Kentucky

Jalen Hurts is not the guy people should be drawing Taysom Hill comparisons for. Instead, it should be the former Wildcat running back. Bowden ran wild on the SEC in the backfield, and under center. Bowden averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 185 touches in 2019, and tallied 13 touchdowns. He became the QB as both the first and second-string QBs for Kentucky went down with injuries. In the final game of the regular season, Bowden set the record for most QB rushing yards in a game with 284, while collecting four touchdowns. He may not have the arm of a Hill, but head coach Jon Gruden will be able to get fancy with Bowden, and fit him anywhere on offense.

Grade: A

No. 81 overall pick: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

Mayock continued to pick up receiving depth with the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards at South Carolina. Edwards gives Vegas a potential three-headed monster with their receiving class to go alongside Tyrell Williams, and the gritty Hunter Renfrow.

Grade: B

No. 100 overall pick: Tanner Muse, S, Clemson

Mayock loves the players from the 2018 National Championship as he goes with another former Clemson Tiger in the hybrid defender. Muse can effectively play both safety and linebacker. He recorded 73 tackles(6 TFLS, 2 sacks), and led the team in interceptions with four. He will have good mentors at both LB and S with Damarious Randall and Cory Littleton. It could also mark the beginning of an upcoming defensive core that could include Clelin Ferrell, Maxx Crosby, Johnathan Abrams, and Trayvon Mullen.

Grade: B+

No. 109 overall pick: John Simpson, G, Clemson

MORE CLEMSON PLAYERS. Vegas gets depth for an aging Richie Incognito. That would be the only reason Vegas took the offensive lineman as the trenches were the last need the Raiders should’ve be targeting in the draft. The Raiders could have used another linebacker at this spot, but O-line is always important so you can’t knock the Raiders too much with the pick.

Grade: C

No. 139 overall pick: Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech

The Raiders filled the necessary gaps that needed in the draft as they finished their class with more depth in a formerly lackluster secondary. Vegas finally has something they can work with in the secondary, and maybe we will see the Raiders have a respectable pass defense for the first time in awhile come September.

Grade: B-

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