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Raiders’ disastrous 2020 draft class will live in infamy

Updated December 14, 2022 - 11:41 am

Former Raiders guard John Simpson slipped unclaimed through waivers this week. Thirty-one teams had a chance to pounce on a 25-year-old former NFL starter, but each declined.

It probably says a lot less about Simpson than it does the Raiders’ regime that invested a fourth-round draft pick in him in 2020. Or, for that matter, the decision-making of then-coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock during a draft that began with so much hope only to completely blow up in the Raiders’ face.

To put it in perspective, the Raiders selected seven players, including two in the first round, in the first 139 picks of that draft. Yet only reserve cornerback Amik Robertson, their final pick, remains with the team.

Meanwhile, the two first-rounders — wide receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette — third-round wide receiver Bryan Edwards and Simpson are no longer on NFL rosters. Lynn Bowden, a third-rounder from Kentucky, has played in one game for the Patriots, and Tanner Muse, a fourth-round pick from Clemson, is strictly a special teams player with the Seahawks.

Essentially, the foundation the Raiders were hoping to lay crumbled before their eyes, done in by tragedy, arrogant decision-making that defied red flags and scouting reports, massive reaches and perplexing evaluations.

It will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst drafts in franchise history, if not the NFL. And when combined with glaring first-round misses in Cle Ferrell and Johnathan Abram in 2019 and Alex Leatherwood in 2021 and second-round pick Trayvon Mullen in 2019, it has greatly contributed to a roster that, while top-heavy at a handful of positions, is grossly lacking in talent and depth.

To make it even worse? Arnette and Edwards were the result of draft picks the Raiders acquired when they traded Khalil Mack to the Bears in 2018.

Here is a look at the disastrous 2020 draft class:

Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama First round, 12th overall

Ruggs was charged with DUI resulting in death and reckless driving in November 2021, when a young Las Vegas woman and her dog were killed in the crash.

The Raiders immediately cut Ruggs. In 20 games, he had 50 catches for 921 yards and four touchdowns.

Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State First round, 19th overall

Not only was Arnette a monumental talent reach based on where he was drafted compared to where he was projected to be selected, the Raiders also ignored all sorts of red flags in terms of character issues that further knocked him down most NFL draft boards. That his name was announced that high in the draft was a major shock to most observers.

Arnette languished through an injury-filled rookie season and didn’t impress when he was on the field. By the start of his second season, he was buried deep on the depth chart and appeared in four games. His fate was sealed when a video surfaced in which he was brandishing what appeared to be semi-automatic firearms.

Arnette spent short stints with the Dolphins and Chiefs, but was released by Kansas City in January after he was arrested in Las Vegas for assault with a deadly weapon. He is no longer in the NFL.

Lynn Bowden, RB, Kentucky Third round, 80th overall

Bowden played wide receiver and quarterback at Kentucky, so, of course, the Raiders drafted him to play running back. They envisioned him as a joker-type player, but he immediately fell out of favor during his rookie training camp and the Raiders traded him to the Dolphins before he played a regular-season game with them.

In 11 games with the Dolphins and Patriots, Bowden has nine carries for 32 yards and 28 catches for 211 yards. He has played just 14 snaps in one game this season for the Patriots.

Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina Third round, 81st overall

Gruden famously compared Edwards to Hall of Famer Terrell Owens during his second training camp with the Raiders, but it’s hard to figure out what Gruden saw given how Edwards’ career has played out.

In two seasons with the Raiders, Edwards caught 45 passes for 764 yards but never took off as the club had hoped. He was traded to the Falcons for a seventh-round pick by current general manager Dave Ziegler in May, but was released after catching just three passes for 15 yards. Edwards is currently on the Chiefs’ practice squad.

Tanner Muse, LB Clemson Fourth round, 100th overall

A safety in college, the Raiders envisioned Muse as a linebacker and an immediate special teams ace. That’s fine for an undrafted free agent, but a fourth-round pick?

Because of a toe injury that wiped out his rookie season, he never played a snap for the Raiders. He was released during his second training camp and has been with the Seahawks since. Aside from three defensive snaps in Seattle, Muse has played only special teams while recording 10 combined tackles.

John Simpson, G, Clemson Fourth round, 109th overall

Injuries in 2021 opened a door for Simpson to start 17 games, and he entered his first year under coach Josh McDaniels with an inside track on a starting job. But he quickly fell out of favor and was benched after the second game of the season. An injury to Alex Bars on Thursday forced Simpson into action, but he was cut a day later after a sluggish performance.

Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech Fourth round, 139th overall

That Robertson is the last man standing from the class is a surprise. His first two seasons were filled with struggles, and he was an odds-on candidate to be released going into his first camp under McDaniels. But he has worked his way into a rotational role and has 28 tackles in 13 games.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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