Some may have questioned the Las Vegas Raiders‘ choices in the first round of the NFL Draft, but there’s no doubt the team is excited about them. Las Vegas added Henry Ruggs with their first selection and he has the type of speed the team has been needing. He isn’t the most polished wide receiver in the draft class, but you can’t teach speed.
Head coach Jon Gruden has been longing for playmakers on the outside and he now has one in Ruggs.
“We had a tough decision. Obviously, there’s a lot of good receivers in this year’s draft but we were united on Ruggs,” Gruden said on Brick at Night with JT the Brick. “Ruggs’ speed, his strength, his playing style, his versatility is something that we feel we need to have back in this organization. We were known for speed in years past … we’re gonna be known for speed going forward and Henry Ruggs is going to be a big part of that.”
The Raiders have gone away from the tried and true formula for some time now and it’s had mixed results. Focusing on adding speed over all-around talent burned Al Davis in a number of drafts. A new regime is calling the shots now and while they are focusing on Ruggs’ speed, they know he’s more than just a fast guy.
Gruden Talks About Ruggs’ Character
Many teams have been disappointed in the past when they’ve drafted the fastest wide receiver coming out of college. However, just because a player is fast doesn’t mean they will be good or bad. The Raiders feel like Ruggs has all the tools to be a top wide receiver in the NFL.
“There’s no holes … he’s got great football character, comes from a great family, tremendous work ethic,” Gruden said when asked about Ruggs’ character. “You remember Derrick Ansley, who was our secondary coach two years ago, who recruited Ruggs out of Alabama. [He] gave us a lot of inside information on him. Just about how he goes through his daily routine.”
Mike Mayock and Gruden clearly like players who love football and there’s no doubt Ruggs is one of those players. He should fit in with the other “Gruden Grinders” the team has brought in over the years.
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Damon Arnette Better Than Jeff Okudah?
The Ruggs wasn’t too much of a reach, but the Raiders decided to make the biggest surprise of the first-round by taking Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette with the 19th pick. He was widely projected to go in the second or third round, but the Raiders liked him more than most. In fact, Gruden thought he was the best cornerback in the class.
“We watched a lot of Ohio State film for obvious reasons,” Gruden said. “We watched [Jeff] Okudah … Obviously, we were in the market for a corner and when you watch Okudah, you can’t help but watch Arnette and I’ll be honest with you, I like Arnette as much as Okudah. You look at the production, Arnette’s got more production. He played last year hurt with a broken right wrist. I think he’s the best tackler in the draft. I think he’s an old school bump and run Raider cornerback … He reminds me a lot of Aqib Talib.”
Gruden drafted Talib back when he was coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so he knows a thing or two about the cornerback. To say Arnette is just as good as Okudah, who was the third overall pick in the draft, is a bit of stretch. Regardless, Arnette was an intriguing pickup as he’s very experienced and should be ready to play from day one. His age is concerning, but it didn’t appear to bother the Raiders much.