The Raiders’ first draft as Las Vegas’ NFL team received mostly positive marks from the national media.
The same could be said for the Raiders’ first pick, Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs at No. 12 overall, though there was concern they would have done better at that position with Crimson Tide teammate Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb also available at the time.
As for the Raiders’ other first-round selection, Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette at No. 19, the reaction was more meh. The general feeling was the Raiders could have traded down and still drafted Arnette.
The real grades will come in the coming seasons.
Here is a sampling:
Comment: “Ruggs will lift the lid on their offense. But who will take advantage of all the space he creates underneath? And can any Raiders quarterback even reach Ruggs when he’s 40 yards downfield? This is a risky pick. And the Raiders have a habit of getting burned by risks like this.”
Comment: “He’ll be most effective as a second cornerback, just as he was for the Buckeyes. This is a reach. And that’s a problem because the Raiders have been reaching in the secondary for years, which is why they entered the draft with one of the league’s weakest, thinnest secondaries.”
Comment: ‘You can’t teach speed. This kid can take the top off. He’s tough. He’ll be able to handle press coverage in the NFL.”
Comment: “He was on my Better-Than-Team. I didn’t think he would go this high, but I guess he was on the Raiders Better-Than-Team. He’s a little grabby in his technique.”
Mel Kiper Jr.
Comment: “This is a very Raiders draft, right? They reached for the fastest prospect in the class in the first round. They took three wide receivers in their first four picks. And coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took two more Clemson prospects, making that five total over the past two drafts. … The Raiders made offensive weapons a priority, and (quarterback Derek) Carr is now under pressure in Year 3 under Gruden. If he jells with his new receivers and has a big year, he could play his way into a contract extension. If not? Gruden might regret passing on (Utah State quarterback Jordan) Love — twice.”
Comment: “The Raiders spent three of their five premium picks on targets for quarterback Derek Carr … and used the other two to improve the back seven. (John) Simpson offers power on the offensive line, though was inconsistent. I’m guessing we’ll continue to see more of the quickness he put on display during Senior Bowl practices. (Amik) Robertson is an outstanding football player who happens to be 5-foot-8 and coming off injury. He’ll be a beast for the Raiders in the slot, and I wouldn’t count him out at any other spot in the secondary.”
Comment: “Because of his home run potential on every play, the Tide star changes the geometry of a defense. With both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb on the board at this spot … I don’t love the value. And his fit in (the) offense is a big question mark, at least with the team’s current quarterback in Derek Carr under center. Carr is notoriously a check-down-heavy passer and doesn’t seem like the best candidate to fully unlock Ruggs’ potential.”
Comment: “He’s adept in press looks, and when playing off, he scans the field well to decipher route combinations. The Buckeyes defender plays the ball well and notched four interceptions and 22 passes defensed in his final three seasons at Ohio State, but gets himself into trouble at times when he misses on the jam and loses a step to his opponent. He’s too often a beat slow when transitioning to his trailing technique.”
Comment: “The Raiders go for the speedy, go-to wideout they desperately needed after the Antonio Brown debacle and amid the Tyrell Williams durability concerns. Ruggs fits the bill as a field-stretcher who also can use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes. He is capable of being a complete No. 1, not just a burner, because of his red-zone scoring prowess.”
Comment: “The Raiders reach a little here for their dire cornerback need, passing up on players such as Trevon Diggs, Jeff Gladney and Kristian Fulton to take a corner with some limitations in downfield coverage. What Arnette doesn’t have in straight-line speed to stay with receivers on vertical routes, he makes up for with short-area quickness and toughness.”
Comment: “Ruggs has effortless, jaw-dropping speed, and he can produce at all three levels. That’s notable because few offensive architects are as creative and diverse in three-level passing concepts as Jon Gruden. Ruggs also presents terrifying big-play potential on jet sweeps and quick screens. Last season, the Raiders had far fewer 20-plus-yard air throws than most teams.”
Comment: “‘But just one problem,’ the critics say. ‘Arnette is not REALLY a first-round corner. Most mock drafts had him going in Round 2, maybe even 3.’ Maybe that’s valid, and that’s certainly the type of thing that will ding Las Vegas’ draft grade. But GM Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden couldn’t care less, and they understand that to assume a guy will go later in the draft, you are — on some level — assuming you know 31 other teams’ draft boards. It’s not the worst thing to like a player (a LOT, presumably) and pick that player.”
Comment: “Henry Ruggs wasn’t even the best (or second-best) receiver at Alabama. He has rare speed, but he’s only an OK route runner and struggles against physical corners. With a handful of more complete receivers on the board, reaching for Ruggs is a head-scratching move. He could be a top-end No. 2, but he doesn’t profile as the centerpiece of a receiving corps.”
Comment: “Why the Raiders didn’t trade down is a mystery. On the bright side, Arnette is a talented corner who isn’t afraid to get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. He’ll be a good player, but the Raiders could have had him later.”
TD Wire: A-
The Draft Wire: B
SB Nation: B-
Pro Football Focus: C
Washington Post: C-
New York Post: D