The 2020 rookie class has had little impact on the Las Vegas Raiders in the early going. Relax, no one is saying these youngsters are busts. Far from it, a handful of games is not an accurate barometer but the fact is, the team has not seen any return on their picks.
Let me be perfectly clear in this assessment, to lay blame on these individual rookies would be asinine. Playing in the NFL comes with inherent risks, chief among them is injury. Take cornerback Damon Arnette for example, while he was not playing at an “elite” level, he was developing quite nicely before succumbing to injury. Tack on the reality of playing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and that has derailed his rookie campaign so far. Henry Ruggs III, the other player the Raiders chose in the first round alongside Arnette, has made his presence known. He has not lit the scoreboard on fire per se, but when he is on the field, the Raiders offense is more aggressive. If fans are thrilled to see quarterback Derek Carr throw the deep ball, they should thank Ruggs.
The rest of the class seems to be indicative of a bigger issue, which is an emphasis on high-character and potential. Or as a reader on Twitter said, ‘they draft guys who “love” football. How bout drafting some guys who can also “Play” football.’ A bit harsh, yes, but there is definitely something to be about statements like that from fans. Results on the field don’t lie and so far in 2020, the rest of the 2020 rookie class has been a major disappointment, someone has to say it.
By The Numbers For The Raiders Rookies
This is not meant as a pun or anything of the sort, but there is actually no numbers to discern in this matter. The rookies the Raiders drafted after the first round have not had any real playing time except guard John Simpson. He’s filled in admirably but he is not ready to be the everyday starter just yet. Then there is the curious case of Lynn Bowden Jr., he didn’t even make it past camp nor is he even on the team anymore.
The much-heralded wide receiver Bryan Edwards has also been plagued by the injury bug much like Arnette. The size, speed, and receiving abilities that Edwards brings should be an asset long-term. Unfortunately, Edwards has been a non-factor so far. Then, we have hybrid defender Tanner Muse and cornerback Amik Robertson, neither one of those youngsters have gotten a chance. Muse is currently on the Injured Reserve List, and Robertson is not ready for the NFL yet.
The timing of injuries and a defensive scheme that clearly is not maximizing its players must be frustrating for fans and the organization. In the end, this could all be an aberration. Some of these rookies could still have an impact in 2020, and then all would be fine. Or, the struggles will continue which will make fans question whether the drafting strategy might need some fine-tuning moving forward. As for fans, maybe being spoiled by an excellent 2019 class got them used to a certain standard as well.
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*Top Photo: John Locher/Associated Press