The Las Vegas Raiders had another draft in which both immediate and future needs were addressed. In spite of that, they’re receiving a less than stellar grade for their efforts.
The most pressing need, which was at wide receiver, was taken care of by general manager Mike Mayock. Even so, some consider it wasn’t a good enough draft. As many have noticed since last year’s class, the Raiders like to sometimes reach for players. In 2019, it was Clelin Ferrell, who drew the ire of critics, and by season’s end, many were justified as his individual numbers didn’t warrant the number four selection. Also, Johnathan Abram was injured in the first game of the year, this wasn’t on Mayock but looking back, only one of last year’s first-round selections made an impact, that being Josh Jacobs.
Assuming Abram is healthy and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli uses Ferrell adequately, the Raiders can see the full fruit of last year’s class. Criticism notwithstanding, Mayock found value in pretty much every round last year with players such as Trayvon Mullen and Hunter Renfrow. Let’s say he’s earned the benefit of the doubt with fans but not so much with critics such as Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report. In a recent analysis, Ballentine gave the draft class a grade of C- with his consensus view on this year’s Raiders class being:
“Almost every Raiders pick was a high-risk, high-reward play. They could make this grade look dumb or generous in a few years, depending on how many of their bets hit.”
A Fair Assessment?
Most fans are excited about this year’s haul, however, Ballentine offered some fair criticism. For example, when it came to the first-round selection of Henry Ruggs III, he said that Crimson Tide playmaker “is an incredibly gifted athlete who showed steady hands at Alabama. He was also the team’s No. 3 receiver throughout his time there, so it’s surprising he was the first wideout taken—even over teammate Jerry Jeudy. You’d be hard-pressed to find a mock draft with Arnette in the first round, but the Ohio State cornerback did showcase some toughness while playing with an injured wrist for a large portion of 2019.” It’s true, Ruggs wasn’t the number one receiver with the Crimson Tide, but if you look at the big picture, Mayock looked at more than just his position on the depth chart. Ruggs is being brought in to stretch the field and open up the passing game so Tyrell Williams, Renfrow, and the other rookies can reap the rewards.
More Than Just A Grade
The inherent issue with an assessment such as Ballentine’s is that he doesn’t see what Mayock or head coach Jon Gruden see. The Damon Arnette selection which is drawing the most criticism, might seem like a reach but that’s only a half-truth. The Raiders wanted Arnette and Gruden has made it clear he wanted him. Also, we previously established Mayock is building this team his way. The same logic applies to the Lynn Bowden Jr. pick, Ballentine summed up this way:
“Lynn Bowden Jr. is the modern-day Kordell Stewart or Antwaan Randle-El, depending on what era you’d like to look back on. He played quarterback in college but will be a receiver/gadget player for the Raiders.”
Fair criticism, but the value that Bowden brings with his versatility, speed, and IQ warranted the pick.
As with any draft class lets put off such harsh criticism until we see what these players can do on the field. It’s not too far fetched that maybe in three years, these two classes might earn back-to-back A+ grades.
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*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal