With the recent releases of Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette, fans have begun to discuss the draft class those two came from. While it was no doubt a letdown, was it the worst in Las Vegas Raiders history?
Going into the 2020 NFL draft, Raiders fans had high hopes. After all, the team had two first-round picks courtesy of the Khalil Mack trade. In addition to this, Las Vegas also had three selections in the third round. The Raiders also had two picks in the fourth round. For a myriad of reasons, all of these picks have been squandered just one year later.
In the first round, the Raiders selected Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette. Ruggs, regarded as one of the best receivers in the class, provided the Vegas offense with an explosive element that it lacked. After a lackluster rookie season, he came into his own in year two and truly became the centerpiece of a dynamic offense. Then tragedy struck in the form of a DUI involving the Raiders wideout, where he killed a woman and is now facing up to 46 years in prison.
For Arnette, the pick seemed destined to fail from the jump. Considered a reach by all involved, the Ohio State product did nothing to change that notion. In addition to his on-the-field struggles, he was injured and on the COVID list throughout his rookie year. Much of the same in 2021, when he was demoted to the bench just one year into his career. As such, when a video surfaced of him brandishing guns and threatening others, the Raiders let him go.
The Rest Of The Bunch Hasn’t Looked Good…
For the other five selections, the impact remained largely the same. Third-round picks Lynn Bowden Jr. and Tanner Muse never even played a snap with the team. The other third-rounder, Bryan Edwards, has become the de facto number one receiver with the absence of Ruggs, but has had his fair share of struggles. In the fourth round, the Raiders selected John Simpson and Amik Robertson. Due to injury, Simpson has become a starter and is possibly the best player from this class. Robertson is buried deep on the bench.
Unfortunately, for Raiders fans, ineptitude in the draft is nothing new. As recently as 2016, the Raiders’ first three selections were Karl Joseph, Jihad Ward, and Shilique Calhoun that year. None of these players are currently with the Raiders, though Joseph briefly returned this offseason, but was released prior to the regular season. In 2017, it only got worse. In the first round, the team took Gareon Conley, who was traded for a third-round pick just two years later and is now out of the NFL. The second and third rounds of that year’s draft offered Obi Melifonwu and Eddie Vanderdoes, both of whom are out of the NFL. In fact, the only player left from 2017 is Marquel Lee, who was a fifth-rounder that found his way back after being released.
While the Raiders have had bad luck recently, the 2020 class stands above the rest. A remarkably bad class, it fails in many aspects. Not only did the team not acquire good locker room leaders (Ruggs and Arnette) they also didn’t acquire talent (Muse and Bowden.) The 2020 NFL draft was a massive one for the Raiders. Coming off a 7-9 season, the team needed some extra talent to push them over the hump. One year later, they have almost nothing to show for it. Likely the worst draft class in the team’s history, it may also be one of the worst in NFL history.
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