Everybody knew going into the 2020 NFL Draft that the Las Vegas Raiders needed help at cornerback. There were a number of ways the team could’ve gone with their second first-round pick, but they decided to surprise the world and take Damon Arnette out of Ohio State. He was a productive starter for the Buckeyes, but most had him getting drafted in the second or third round. The Raiders obviously didn’t see it that way and general manager Mike Mayock claimed the team didn’t even try to trade back and take Arnette later.
Regardless, the Raiders were able to address one of their biggest needs. While not everybody is totally sold on the move, Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown sent a strong message to the incoming rookie.
As Brown pointed out, both Arnette and he are from Dallas, Texas. The last time the Raiders took a Dallas native in the first round, he became one of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history. Arnette appears more than willing to try and live up to Brown’s name.
Vikings Were Gunning for Arnette
While it’s easy to argue that the Raiders reached for Arnette in the first round because media pundits deemed it so, it’s unknown how other NFL teams felt about the cornerbacks. It’s possible other teams were planning on taking Arnette at some point in the first round. It’s unclear if the Minnesota Vikings were among the teams who would’ve taken him early, but according to Courtney Cronin, they “loved” the cornerback.
Minnesota ended up picking three spots after the Raiders and took a wide receiver. They probably wouldn’t have taken Arnette with that pick, but Las Vegas didn’t have a second-round pick. They could’ve missed out on him altogether had they not “reached” for him in the first round.
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Arnette Is Faster Than His 40 Time
The biggest knock on Arnette is that his 40-yard dash time was not very impressive at 4.56. Couple with the fact that he’ll be 24 when the season starts and he’s not very tall and it’s easy to understand why there are concerns about drafting him in the first round. However, his 40 time might be misleading. According to NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter, Arnette is faster than we’ve been led to believe.
“He’s got better game speed than he showed at the combine,” Carter said of Arnette. “He was dealing with a couple things. He had a hamstring and a back issue that I believe he runs a lot faster than that combine time.”
If he is actually faster than his numbers would indicate, then the Raiders have less to worry about. Arnette’s tape speaks for itself. He’s a very aggressive player and twitchy. He’s exactly what you would expect from a Raiders cornerback. Teaming him up with Johnathan Abram and Amik Robertson in the defensive backfield and the team has swagger for days. Another thing working in Arnette’s favor is that he has a ton of experience. He may not have the upside of some other rookie cornerbacks, he should be ready to see action on Sunday’s almost immediately and could be a day one starter.