With the draft closing in for the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s fair to question whether or not they’ll get things right this year. So far, last year’s draft looks like a complete disaster. Not a single player in the class made a notable impact on the team.
This year, the evaluation process has been even tougher with no combine and not being able to hold one-on-one meetings with players. The Raiders had two first-round picks last year and used them on Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette. Ruggs did show some flashes but was very disappointing considering he was the first wide receiver selected in a loaded class. Arnette was injured for most of the year and struggled when he was on the field.
Ahead of this year’s draft, general manager Mike Mayock had a chance to speak about both Arnette and Ruggs.
“I’m excited about both of them,” Mayock said Thursday. “I don’t think there’s any question in our building how talented they both are.”
The talent is certainly there but time will tell if they can turn that talent into on-the-field success.
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Mayock Details What Ruggs Needs to Improve
The Raiders need both Ruggs and Arnette to step up in 2020. The team has embraced youth at wide receiver and cornerback. If those two fail, Las Vegas will be in trouble. Mayock sounds very confident that both men will step up in a big way.
“In my mind, we’re going to see different guys,” Mayock said. “I made a comment a couple of months ago about Ruggs and about that whole class last year needing to step it up this year. And I still believe that.
“From Ruggs’ perspective, I mean the sky’s the limit. We knew exactly what he was, and that’s who he is. We had no surprises last year with Ruggs. Now he needs to take it to level two now, the next level up. Stronger. Better route runner. Finish with both feet down. All those things. And we think he will.”
Ruggs does deserve time to develop. Teams didn’t have full offseasons last year and no preseason. Yes, some rookie wide receivers had a lot of success but that doesn’t mean Ruggs won’t eventually reach a high level. The Raiders sound confident in him. Perhaps all he needed was a year under his belt. He’s been seen working out with Derek Carr this offseason so that’s already a very positive sign.
Will Raiders Target WR or CB in Draft?
The Raiders drafted Ruggs and Bryan Edwards within the first three rounds of last year’s draft. They also signed John Brown this offseason. Based on those moves, it seems highly unlikely that the team will address wide receiver early in this year’s draft. Now, if Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith somehow fall to No. 17, that could make things tough for Jon Gruden but that’s unlikely to happen.
On the other hand, the Raiders have been linked to cornerbacks in some mock drafts. The team had a really bad pass defense last year but that also seems unlikely. In 2019, the team used a second-round pick on Trayvon Mullen. Last year, they used a first-rounder on Arnette. They will probably rely on those two this year and revaluate next year. The Raiders have far bigger needs at safety and right tackle to even think about adding a rookie cornerback in the first round right now.