The Las Vegas Raiders and Jon Gruden reloaded at cornerback twice during this year’s NFL Draft. Nonetheless, one of those picks has been the subject of criticism since the selection was made.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden have rebuilt the roster their way without regard to outsider’s opinions. Despite the team steadily improving over the last two years, Raiders’ draft picks seem to constantly be second-guessed. This year, the selection of former Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette has received much critique.
Gruden Stands by Arnette
Gruden recently stood by Arnette’s selection when he spoke with Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News. One of the knocks on Arnette is that he wasn’t worthy of a first-round selection. After the draft, several analysts were quick to judge. Gruden for his part, stands by the pick.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘He’s not a first-round pick on our board.’ Well, whose board are we talking about? Then if you’re into analytics, according to Profootballfocus.com he had the best QB rating against him of any corner in the draft. I mean, he’s a hell of a player. That’s why I like him.”
An NFL team’s big board will never be the same as that of a fan or media analyst. Gruden and Mayock believe in their ability to find the right players for their system and what it is they’re building in Las Vegas. Mayock has put emphasis on character through the draft process. Arnette is no exception as Gruden alluded to:
“He played at Ohio State. He played big in big games. He’s an excellent tackler, a confident corner. He’s comfortable in bump and run. When we watched him play against good receivers he played good. And he just gives us something we need, something we cherish here. A physical, press confident corner that’s not afraid to hit you.”
From Gruden’s description of Arnette, you’d be hard-pressed to think they found their “guy.” The cornerback has big-game experience, which helps his confidence. He’s a good tackler, and that will be key in his professional transition. Certainly, his physicality will be welcomed in the Raiders secondary.
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