After nailing the 2019 NFL Draft class, the Las Vegas Raiders already have lofty expectations for this year’s rookies.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock put together a splendid group of players in this year’s draft. Addressing several key weaknesses in one fell swoop, Mayock reloaded the offense and added depth to the defense. That said, assembling an impressive class on paper is one thing, but to deliver in a year with expectations is something else.
The talent is there, top to bottom, from the pair of first-round picks to the Raiders’ final selection in the fourth. Head coach Jon Gruden is also of the opinion that the rookies will contribute out of the gate. He recently admitted as much with Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News. It was three selections in specific that Gruden spoke highly of.
The Clemson Pipeline
In regards to third-round pick Tanner Muse, Gruden’s high on what the safety-soon-to-be-linebacker brings to Las Vegas. “(Isaiah) Simmons got all the ink, for good reason, he played several positions. But so did Muse. Hell, I’m watching Alabama play Clemson two years ago for all the marbles, and in goal line and in short-yardage, Simmons isn’t even on the field. Muse is. He wasn’t even playing on first down in some of the personnel groupings that Alabama put out there, but Muse was.” The versatility the Tigers prospect brings will be put to good use in defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme. A lot is riding on that planned transition since the Silver and Black are dangerously thin at linebacker.
Tanner’s teammate at Clemson, John Simpson, also got high praise from Gruden. “We’re excited about the other kid from Clemson, (John) Simpson. He’s played a lot of football at Clemson on a good offensive team. He’s smart, he’s mature, [and] he’s got length.” Simpson’s addition is intriguing due to the status of the offensive line. At guard, the Raiders have an aging Richie Incognito who’s at his career’s tail end. Gabe Jackson was expected to have been shipped off already, yet, remains with the team. Another possibility is Simpson simply provides depth in 2020. Nevertheless, you can never have too much good depth in the trenches.
The Newest Weapon
Another addition that Gruden’s stoked about is wide receiver Bryan Edwards. The former South Carolina Gamecock will be one of the many new toys at quarterback Derek Carr’s disposal in 2020. “We like (Bryan) Edwards. I’ve had a lot of luck at South Carolina. Got to coach Sterling Sharpe. Got a chance to coach Robert Brooks. This guy here, Edwards, he is a physical guy. He is a good player. When healthy, when he gets that ankle right, he’ll prove it.”
As Gruden alluded to, if Edwards is good to go come opening week he’ll definitely have a chance to make an impact. He has the size, hands, and route running to become one of Carr’s go-to receivers right out of the gate.
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*Top Photo: Sean Rayford/Associated Press