The Las Vegas Raiders have never minded going against the grain. However, their approach hasn’t born fruit in recent years and this is evident in their drafts. Although they’ve had some hits, they’ve had their fair share of misses too. For that reason, it isn’t surprising to see them get less-than-stellar grades for their 2021 NFL Draft haul.
Even though taking Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood 17th overall wasn’t a reach, experts believe the Raiders didn’t do a good job drafting players this year. Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated likes the fact they are willing to take risks. On the other hand, he says that philosophy is only good as long as it yields results, which hasn’t been the case for Las Vegas. Thus, he gave them a ‘D’ for their draft class.
Meanwhile, the Pro Football Focus staff gave the Raiders a ‘C’ for their effort. They weren’t fans of the Leatherwood pick but liked their overall class. They wonder how defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will use safety Trevon Moehrig but believes he could succeed. The advanced statistics site commends the decision to take Malcolm Koonce despite the fact he might’ve been a reach. By the same token, they wonder if safety Devine Deablo will be able to switch to linebacker.
Matt Lombardo of Fansided was even harsher and gave them a ‘D’. He thinks that finding a quarterback of the future was a pressing need the Raiders failed to address. He believes Leatherwood was a good pick but ultimately thinks that “the chasm between the Raiders and the Chiefs seemed to widen”.
Do the Las Vegas Raiders deserve low marks for their draft haul?
It’s too early to say if the Raiders had a good draft. However, they’ve made questionable picks in recent years, so it’s the skepticism is warranted. Last year, they reached for cornerback Damon Arnette. Regardless of the reasons, the Ohio State product didn’t live up to the expectations that come with being a first-round selection. The same is true for defensive end Clelin Ferrell. Although he’s a solid run defender, you don’t want ‘solid’ from 2019’s fourth overall pick. You should get an All-Pro in the top 5 of the draft. Instead, Las Vegas got a player that may be better in a complementary role.
Having said that, the Raiders came out of the draft with a good haul. If Leatherwood can still healthy, he should be able to hold his ground at right tackle. Also, Las Vegas was in dire need of a playmaker at safety and Moehrig could have an impact right off the bat. It’s true that the Raiders drafted for need but they ended with players that could contribute right away.
Although there isn’t a standardized way to measure a draft class’s impact, the Raiders will surely want to see their early picks play early and often. Based on their potential, that shouldn’t be difficult. Furthermore, just because they’ve squandered selections in previous years doesn’t mean they fell flat this year. If anything, their draft class looks promising.
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