Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic massively affected the 2020 NFL season. As such, many high-profile draft prospects decided against playing in their final collegiate season. While the players can make their own choices, their decision could affect their draft stock. Will it have an effect in the Las Vegas Raiders’ decision-making?
The list of NFL Draft prospects who opted out includes many players that would fit the Raiders’ current needs. This includes Miami pass rusher Gregory Rousseau, who is likely to be available at 17. Pitt defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman is also among them, an undersized but high potential pass rusher on the interior. It also includes prospects such as Ja’Marr Chase, Penei Sewell, and Rashawn Slater who likely will not be available at the Raiders pick, but are incredibly talented.
The NFL also saw a wave of opt-outs in 2020 but did not affect the Raiders as harshly. The three players who opted out were Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings, and Ukeme Eligwe. The important news to this discussion, however, is that none of these players are on the Raiders anymore. The team has also signed nine free agents so far, none of which opted out of the 2020 season.
What will the Raiders’ brass do?
When asked for comment on his 2019 rookie class, general manager Mike Mayock had this to say “They were foundation kids, they love football. They love ball for what it is, not what it brings them. And to me, that’s a big distinction.” Both he and Jon Gruden have consistently preached the importance of loving football. It’s fair to wonder if they believe opting out is an indication of how much they care about the game.
Gruden and Mayock are old-school football guys and while their assessment that opt-outs don’t love football is debatable, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them select anyone who did not play in the 2020 season.
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