We’ve heard many positive and negative reviews of the Las Vegas Raiders 2020 NFL Draft class, but only time will tell how good this group will turn out to be. The Silver and Black had seven picks, but they all came in rounds one through four, which means these players will see much more playing time than an ordinary bunch would.
Let’s take a look at how some of these players will fill in on the Raiders depth chart, but before that, here’s another rundown of the players head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock selected this weekend:
RB/WR Lynn Bowden Jr.
LB/S Tanner Muse
OG John Simpson
Wide Receiver Corps
Tyrell Williams, Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden Jr. (maybe), Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, Marcell Ateman, Anthony Ratliff–Williams
It’s worth noting that Bowden Jr. is currently listed as a running back on the Raiders depth chart, but he has no trouble lining up at wide receiver either. He can play anywhere on the field as a quarterback, halfback, or wideout. He’s going to be the Raiders’ Swiss army knife, and he’ll be able to play wherever Gruden needs him to. On the other hand, Johnson also made this play that went viral a few years back:
Remember when this went viral? Lynn Bowden Jr took it to the house while in to punt at Warren G Harding High School (Youngstown, OH). pic.twitter.com/t6DnSUpJvX
— The Only Nation Podcast (@onlynationpod) April 25, 2020
Ruggs and Edwards are the other newcomers, and they’re locks to make the team. Crimson Tide wide receiver Ruggs should be an immediate starter, and Louisiana Tech product Edwards is gonna be a great weapon off the bench with his massive catch radius.
With the addition of these three wide-outs, the chances for Agholor, Doss, Ateman, and Ratliff-Williams making the roster took a hit. Jones should be fine, but for players such as Doss and Ateman, who were already on the fringe, it’s going to be much harder.
Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, Lamarcus Joyner, Nevin Lawson, Amik Robertson, Ken Crawly, Keisean Nixon, D.J. Killings
The selection of Arnette got a lot of negative feedback, but the presence he will bring to Las Vegas can’t be ignored. The Ohio State product is a physical and aggressive corner, one that doesn’t shy away from contact but actively seeks it. If there were a direct opposite of fellow Ohio State alumnus Gareon Conley, it would be Arnette.
Robertson plays the same way and has the potential to be the best nickel corner in the entire draft class. One thing I’ve noticed is that Las Vegas’ front office is looking for players that play with a mean, never-back-down tempo on the field when it comes to this position. Mullen, Arnette, and Robertson all fit that category, and it’s something that resembles the Raiders of old.
This is the type of player Gruden and Mayock want playing defense:
The two new Raiders cornerbacks, Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson, are both absolute dogs — both players are really aggressive cornerbacks. pic.twitter.com/nuBCNrBhO2
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) April 25, 2020
Mullen and Arnette should start opposite each other come week one and Robertson should get a lot of slot-corner reps, especially if incumbent slot Lamarcus Joyner starts playing safety more this year. Some mixture of Lawson-Crawley-Nixon-Killings will come off the bench, although one or two of them may not make the team.
Jonathan Abram, Damarious Randall, Jeff Heath, Erik Harris, Tanner Muse, Dallin Leavitt
This will be an interesting group. Muse will play either linebacker or safety depending on what the Raiders need most. For the moment, he’s currently listed as safety, and he’s got some competition ahead of him.
Karl Joseph left the team this past free agency, but the Raiders brought in Randall and Heath, with Abram healthy again as well. Muse is a good safety, but he’s probably going to see the least amount of playing time of anybody in this class. Las Vegas already has Littleton, Kwiatkoski, Morrow, and Lee at linebacker, so Muse would have a hard time finding action at that position as well.
Abram is a strong candidate to start in what we hope will be his first full season. The other safety spot could be occupied by Randall or Heath, and both of them have good arguments for the spot. Last but not least, don’t forget Harris, who remains in the mix as well, so this will be a crowded group.
Richie Incognito, Gabe Jackson, Jordan Devey, Denzel Good, John Simpson, Eric Kush, Kyle Kalis
On Day 3 of the draft, the Raiders added Simpson, who comes from Clemson (we should just call it the Silver and Black’s Triple-A affiliate at this point) and is a talented guard, but has competition and proven veterans ahead of him. Mayock and Gruden took a flier on Incognito last year, and that paid off tremendously. Jackson’s performance has taken a slight dip recently and he’s struggled with injuries, but while healthy he’s an obvious starter.
Devey and Good have both shown that they can play when given the chance and although there wasn’t a need at this position for the Raiders, Simpson will serve as a good, young depth piece. You can never have too much talent on the offensive line anyway.
This draft class is unique because every player the Raiders selected has the talent to make an impact in Week One of the 2020 season. I don’t see any practice squad-caliber players when I look at this class. Some of them may struggle to find time because of the talent already at their position, but that’s a great problem for Las Vegas to have. This group of newcomers carry a lot of potential, and it should be one of the best the Raiders have had in a while.
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Top Photo: Adam Hunger/Associated Press