It was an eventful offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders as they improved in a number of key areas. Last year, wide receiver was arguably the team’s biggest weakness they decided to address the position in the first round by taking former Alabama standout Henry Ruggs. He wasn’t universally considered to be the best wideout in the draft but he was the fastest.
Despite the additions of notable players like Cory Littleton and Maliek Collins, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes the decision to draft Ruggs was the best move the team made all offseason:
The offense may still revolve around the running game and the mid-level receiving of Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. However, the threat of hitting the home run will be there every time Ruggs is on the field.
His mere presence will open things up underneath for quarterback Derek Carr and will reduce the number of eight-man boxes Josh Jacobs sees in 2020. The stats may not indicate it at season’s end, but Ruggs can have as big an impact as any rookie receiver in the NFL this year.
The Raiders already had elite offensive playmakers last year but Ruggs brings a new dynamic to the offense. As Knox pointed out, he’s going to help take attention off Waller and Jacobs. During his rookie year, he might be more impactful for what defenses can’t do because of him, more so than putting up big numbers.
Damon Arnette Could Be in for Big Season, Also
With training camp wrapping up, there’s been no indication that Ruggs is poised to be a disappointment. He’s definitely the team’s most important rookie for a number of reasons but there might be even more pressure on fellow first-round pick Damon Arnette. The Raiders recently released veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara which paves the way for Arnette to start.
That’s asking a lot of a rookie, especially since many didn’t believe he should’ve been a first-round pick. That said, Arnette received rave reviews during training camp. He clearly did a lot to prove to the Raiders that he’s ready for the job. Arnette isn’t going to have a lot of time to get used to the new position. Through the first half of the season, the team will see elite wide receivers in Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. The Raiders secondary will have their hands full and they’ll figure out really quickly if Arnette can keep up.
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Raiders Could Have Very Impactful Rookie Class
Just like last season, the Raiders are prepared to rely heavily on youth. At this point, it looks like at least two rookies are locks to start in Ruggs and Arnette. With the injury to Tyrell Williams, it’s also possible that Bryan Edwards becomes a starter at some point.
Rookies like Lynn Bowden Jr., Tanner Muse and Amik Robertson probably won’t be seeing much time on the field just yet, but the three previously mentioned rookies could become important pieces for the team. It’s a very big risk for the Raiders to take but it could pay off in a big way.