The Las Vegas Raiders made a number of first-round blunders, which led to the team firing of general manager Mike Mayock. Perhaps the worst pick that Mayock made during his tenure was taking cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round of the 2020 class. Not only was he considered a significant reach when the Raiders selected him but he had serious off-the-field concerns.
Those concerns came to a head this season when Arnette was caught holding a gun and uttering death threats to somebody through his Instagram direct messages. That led to him quickly getting released from the team. After a few weeks in free agency, Arnette eventually signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad. He never played a game with them and they didn’t bring him back after the season ended.
It appears that Arnette’s NFL hopes aren’t over quite yet. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Kansas City Chiefs have signed the cornerback to a Reserve/Futures contract.
He won’t be part of the team for their current playoff run but he’ll have a chance to impress the team this offseason.
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Does Arnette Have an NFL Future?
The Raiders may have been the only team that saw Arnette as a first-round pick but that doesn’t he there’s no upside with him. He was a good cornerback at Ohio State and likely would’ve gone in the second round had Las Vegas not selected him so early. There could be some untapped talent there with the right team.
That said, Arnette didn’t show the Raiders a lot of promise when he was on the field. In 13 games, he caught zero interceptions and had just three passes defended. He was also involved with a number of really ugly plays. His injury issues are also concerning. At this point, there’s little evidence that he can play up to his status as a first-round pick. It’s a low-risk move for the Chiefs that could end up being a smart move.
Nate Hobbs Named to PFF’s All-Rookie Team
Arnette’s struggles were made more obvious this season by the fact that rookie fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs outperformed him almost immediately. He was inserted as the team’s starting nickel cornerback in Week 1 and ended up being one of their best defenders. Hobbs wasn’t just impressive for a fifth-round pick, he was one of the most impressive rookies in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus named Hobbs to their All-Rookie team:
Hobbs came in as a fifth-round pick out of Illinois and won the starting nickel role in first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense. He proceeded to top that accomplishment by becoming PFF’s highest-graded rookie cornerback in 2021.
Hobbs doesn’t have gaudy interception or pass breakup numbers because much of his job in the slot was coming up and limiting damage on plays in front of him. He did that well, allowing just 0.7 yards per coverage snap, seventh among cornerbacks with at least 250 snaps. Hobbs paired that play in coverage with a 78.8 PFF run-defense grade in 2021 that ranked 11th at the position.