Coming out of Ohio State, Jeff Okudah was much more highly touted than Damon Arnette. Okudah was thought to be a top-five draft pick while Arnette was expected to go in the second round at the earliest. The former went where he was supposed to but the latter got selected a lot earlier by the Las Vegas Raiders than anybody expected. While Arnette does have detractors, the stats say he was a very good player in college.
According to Pro Football Focus, only Okudah allowed fewer receptions among cornerbacks in the Big Ten with 50+ targets. The 2020 third overall pick sent a message to his former teammate and Arnette responded.
They may play for different teams now, but they clearly built a lasting relationship while playing at Ohio State. If Arnette can keep up with Okudah’s production in the NFL, nobody will question the Raiders’ decision to take him in the first round.
Arnette Thinks He’s Better Than Okudah
Despite the friendship between the two men, there is also a clear rivalry. In fact, Arnette thinks he’s the better of the two cornerbacks.
“Hey, are you better than Okudah?” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden asked Arnette when the team drafted him, who replied “yes, sir.”
“You’re god damn right,” Gruden said. “You’re going to have a lot to prove to everybody.”
Okudah is one of the best cornerback prospects to come out of college in a while so it might be a bit of a pipedream to say Arnette is better. However, it’s not like Okudah did all the work at Ohio State. In fact, Okudah has been singing Arnette’s praises for months.
“I feel like if you love a redemption story, you respect Damon Arnette a lot, someone that had a lot of doubters his first four years at Ohio State,” Okudah said of Arnette in February, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “A lot of guys like to cower, blame a lot of people, but he just put his head down and kept working. Through a broken wrist, he put his head down and kept working. I think he’s really trying to reap the benefits of resiliency.”
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Arnette Has Been Practicing With Team in Las Vegas
Unforautnely, rookies will probably have their development slowed down due to a lot of offseason programs getting canceled. Luckily for Arnette, many players for the Raiders have taken upon themselves to hold practices in a Las Vegas park. It’s unclear how long he’s been attending the practices but he’s at least been doing it for a couple of weeks.
With quarterback Derek Carr and a lot of his top wide receivers present, there’s no doubt Arnette has been getting some good reps in. Even though he’s a rookie, there’s a really good shot he ends up starting for the Raiders at some point this season. That would be a tall order in a division with Patrick Mahomes, but Arnette is more experience than most rookies coming out of college.