The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t exactly done the best job in the draft over the last few years. Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have made a number of questionable moves, especially in the first round. One of the most stunning selections the team made was drafting Damon Arnette in the first round of last year’s draft.
Nobody projected him to be selected before the second round. The Raiders sounded confident that he’d perform but he had a very bad rookie season that was marred with inconsistent play and injuries. Obviously, he was a rookie in a unique year so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. However, it sounds like the Raiders aren’t particularly high on him. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, things aren’t looking great for Arnette:
Well, after watching minicamp practices Tuesday and Wednesday and talking to people in the building, Arnette has become almost an after-thought. The Raiders signed veteran Casey Hayward in May and all but handed him Arnette’s starting job opposite Trayvon Mullen. There was some speculation that one might move to slot corner but neither has practiced there yet.
There were some character concerns surrounding Arnette heading into the draft and perhaps that’s why the Raiders aren’t relying on him. Regardless, he needs to really show the team a lot in training camp if he hopes to have a role in the defense this year.
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Gruden Talks Raiders DBs
What’s not working in Arnette’s favor is that the Raiders have added a number of young defensive backs this offseason. When talking about the team’s secondary, Gruden notably made no mention of the 2020 first-round pick.
“We’ve put a lot of (draft) picks into our secondary if you count Trevon Moehrig and Tyree Gillespie and obviously Karl Joseph and John Abram,” Gruden said Wednesday. “We have a lot of high picks in that secondary. They’re young.
“Hayward is going to be a veteran that brings us some seasoning and some day-to-day consistency. He’s going to provide a lot of competition, I promise you that. He’s not here to give away his job.”
Now, Gruden may have just forgot to mention him as he didn’t mention Trayvon Mullen either. However, coupled with the report from Tafur and it just doesn’t seem like the Raiders expect much from Arnette.
Gruden Planning to Start Best Players Regardless of Draft Position
Though the Raiders would obviously prefer if their top draft picks would pan out and play well, they’re not going to put lesser players on the field just because of where they were drafted. Gruden made that clear during mandatory minicamps.
“I don’t care if it’s Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson,” Gruden said. “I don’t care what round they came in, we’re going to play the best four to five guys. The players will decide that.”
Considering the youth on the Raiders’ defense, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity all over the field. Arnette will get plenty of chances to prove he can be a starter but he clearly still needs to gain the trust of his coaches.