The 2019 Las Vegas Raiders rookie class ended up producing several starters and a few stars. However, should fans ease those expectations?
There’s nothing wrong in getting excited for a new NFL season, after all it’s around this time every team seems to have a chance. The Raiders for their part have been drafting well, with their rookies performing well. This has lead to optimism among their fanbase. Just take a look at last year’s class and it’s contents. The Silver and Black now have a star running back in Josh Jacobs to lead the offense on the ground. Also, they have two starting defensive ends, Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, who figure to be starters for the coming years. A slot receiver in Hunter Renfrow who could have a huge year in 2020 in this offense. Two potential starting defensive backs for the future in Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden hit a home run.
What Should Be Realistic Expectations For The Raiders?
To think that the 2020 class can repeat its predecessor’s success might not be realistic. The biggest drawback has been the lack of offseason activities due to the current pandemic. The talent is there but without the proper preparation the rookies’ development will be temporarily stunted.
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports recently took a closer look at this year’s rookies and how they might stack up with last year’s class.
Last year, the Raiders rookies had the most touchdowns (17), most yards after the catch (676), most rushing yards (1,167) and most rushing touchdowns (seven) in the NFL. They came in, were accountable, helped jump-start a culture change and were seven of the most important players in silver and black. That was just Year 1. Not to mention first-round pick Johnathan Abram played just one game after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 1.
Just looking at the offensive output, you can see the Raiders offense was revamped long-term. The culture change which Schrock mentions was also key, Mayock is assembling a team with a championship mentality. Hence why the Raiders find themselves with plenty of players from Clemson, a college championship powerhouse.
More Was Needed For Raiders
However, the work was not done with the offense as the team selected wide receiver Henry Ruggs III back in April. The Alabama product will be a key component out of the gate, he’ll spread the offensive attack with his speed. The rest of the class is more of a puzzle with regards to how much they’ll contribute and what impact, if any.
“Arnette is a tough, physical press corner who returned to Ohio State for his senior season in order to reshape his legacy. He did, playing the entire season with a broken hand while allowing the lowest passer rating against when targeted… Bowden enters camp as a complete enigma… Robertson, Muse and Simpson all enter 2020 as depth pieces who the Raiders expect to be starters in the future.”
The other wide receiver the Raiders chose, Bryan Edwards, could very well end up being the steal of the draft. The rest of the pieces could end up being quality depth, which is good as well. A team is only good as its depth, and the Raiders lacked that for years. With training camp soon underway followed immediately by the regular season, we will get a better idea of where these rookies are at as professionals.
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*Top Photo: Travis Bell/South Carolina Athletics