The 2019 NFL Draft was a hit for the Las Vegas Raiders. They ended the process with nine players and signed undrafted free-agent Alec Ingold after the fact. Many of those prospects have now become key contributors for the Silver and Black. Alas, the same can’t be said about this year’s draft class.
The Raiders added a plethora of players via the draft in 2019
The Raiders drafted running back Josh Jacobs, safety Johnathan Abram and defensive end Clelin Ferrell in the first round of 2019’s draft. They later added cornerback Trayvon Mullen in the second and defensive end Maxx Crosby and corner Isaiah Johnson in the fourth. Tight end Foster Moreau and Hunter Renfrow would follow in the fifth round and defensive end Quentin Bell in the seventh. Out of all those players, only Bell is no longer with the team and most of them have become part of the team’s core.
Jacobs is their star running back and Abram is the leader of the defense. Maxx Crosby is the team’s best pass rusher, Mullen is holding one starting spot and Renfrow is as reliable as they come. Moreover, Moreau has been solid when he has had his name called and Ferrell has been serviceable. It is true that the Raiders had many selections heading into the draft, but it is never easy to hit in all of them.
The 2020 class is a whole different deal
For proof of how difficult it is to get draft selections right, look no further than the Raiders 2020 draft class. The team had seven total selections, but the returns haven’t been great so far. They drafted wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round. The Alabama standout has displayed flashes of talent but hasn’t become the premier receiver the team envisioned. Meanwhile, Arnette went through the growing pains most rookie’s experience before he sustained a thumb injury.
The Raiders’ third-round picks haven’t fared any better than their first-round counterparts. The team’s brass traded running back Lynn Bowden Jr. to the Miami Dolphins. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards is currently nursing an ankle injury and the Silver and Black have placed safety Tanner Muse on the Injured Reserve list after undergoing toe surgery.
In his latest sitdown with the media, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden cited injuries and the lack of an in-person offseason program as two of the reasons why their 2020 rookies haven’t exploded but he believes they’re getting ‘something out of them’ and is confident in them. The head coach is right. Nobody can plan for injuries and the learning curve was steeper for players that joined the NFL this year.
A Look Ahead
Regardless of the reason, the Raiders surely expected more from this year’s rookie class, especially when compared to last year’s. While it’s too early to write the rookies off, the early returns haven’t been encouraging. If they end up breaking out at a later time, we might look back and laugh it all off. On the other hand, if they don’t live to expectations, the Raiders may find themselves in need to get back to the drawing board.
Top Photo: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald