It is early in the 2020 season but is it possible the Las Vegas Raiders wish they had drafted wide receiver Justin Jefferson back in April?
We all know drafting in the NFL is anything but an exact science, just ask Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. 2019’s rookie class was excellent and Mayock did a pretty good job of selecting young talent. This year though, it has been a different story. In particular, the team’s two first-round picks have succumbed to injuries in the early going.
Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III can’t currently see the field but before succumbing to injury he showed his playmaking prowess. Cornerback Damon Arnette is a different story. In his rookie season so far, the Ohio standout hasn’t looked good in coverage according to Pro Football Focus. While it could be way too early to be using the word “bust,” we can wonder what may have been. Specifically, what if Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden had opted to draft Justin Jefferson with the 19th overall selection instead of Arnette?
Jefferson Would’ve Come In Handy Right Now For The Raiders
Injuries are impossible to predict or even prepare for in the NFL. Despite this truth, imagine a scenario where the team drafts Jefferson in the first round back in April. Then, as a result instead of selecting Bryan Edwards, they could’ve gone cornerback in that slot. The Raiders could still have kept veteran Prince Amukamara and develop any rookie corners along the way. A lineup with Ruggs and Jefferson would’ve been deadly but more so than that, right now the Raiders could’ve been using him.
With the Raiders wide receiver corps currently decimated with injuries, Jefferson might have flourished just as he’s doing with the Minnesota Vikings. PFF recently gave him a grade of 85.3 thru three weeks this season.
“Through the first two games of the season, he had been the third receiver in the Vikings’ offense behind Adam ThielenÂ andÂ Olabisi Johnson, but he saw a career-high in snaps (51) this week against Tennessee and almost completely eliminated Johnson’s participation from the game due to how well he did with those snaps. Jefferson caught seven of the nine passes thrown his way for 175 yards and a touchdown, embarrassing the Tennessee secondary on his biggest play of the day for a score.”
It seems to be sacrilege for many fans to criticize Raiders’ brass due to their undying loyalty. However, we could argue that the Silver and Black’s rookie class hasn’t had the desired impact many expected so far. Jefferson holding down a depleted wide receiver corps at the moment wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.
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*Top Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images