The Las Vegas Raiders stumbled to an 8-8 record in 2020, and although it was an improvement from the previous year’s 7-9 mark, they lost five of their last seven, which left general manager Mike Mayock disappointed.
Mayock spoke out about how the first-year players he brought in during last year’s NFL Draft failed to make the impact Las Vegas was hoping for.
Mike Mayock underwhelmed by 1st-round picks Henry Ruggs III, Damon Arnette
In an interview that was posted to the Raiders’ official website, Mayock spoke about the two first-round selections he made in the 2020 NFL Draft: Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette.
“I think Henry has to get better,” Mayock said. “We knew how fast he is, but he has to get stronger, and he has to get in and out of his breaks better. You got to feel him coming out his breaks more for him to get to the next level, and I think he will.”
Speaking about Arnette, Mayock remarked that the rising second-year defensive back must do everything he can to stay healthy. Otherwise, he’ll end up failing to meet expectations amid an adversity-filed rookie season:
In training camp prior to injury, he was playing really well. We were really excited about Damon Arnette. He’s instinctive, tough and fast, but concussions, a broken hand, COVID — he’s got to take care of business in the offseason. Nutrition, strength coach, consistency of a day-to-day program.Mike Mayock on Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette
Indeed, Ruggs and Arnette failed to live up to their draft billing. Despite being the 12th overall pick, Ruggs wasn’t the deep, speedy threat the Raiders hoped they were getting to take their offense to the next level. He caught 26 of 43 targets for 452 yards and only two touchdowns.
Arnette was part of an embattled secondary that continued to suffer from a lackluster pass rush on Las Vegas’ defensive front. He was limited to only nine games and seven starts in 2020, and struggled to find his stride when he was on the field.
Mike Mayock needs to draft better for Las Vegas Raiders to contend
Playing in a division with the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and a Los Angeles Chargers team that has its own young stud quarterback in Justin Herbert isn’t an easy task. However, the problems the Raiders had in 2020 can almost directly be tied to Mayock’s shaky draft record to date.
Let’s just begin with the 2020 draft class. We already outlined the struggles from Ruggs and Arnette. Mayock’s next selection, Lynn Bowden Jr., got traded to Miami before he even had a chance to contribute in Las Vegas. Another first-year wideout, Bryan Edwards, was too banged-up last season to make a meaningful impact.
Offensive guard John Simpson looked outmatched when he was pressed into duty, linebacker Tanner Muse missed the whole season, and cornerback Amik Robertson played only 35 defensive snaps.
Yikes. That’s pretty bad, no?
Going further, though, Mayock had the luxury of three first-round picks in the 2019 draft. Johnathan Abram missed much of his rookie year, and proceeded to be Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded safety in 2020. Running back Josh Jacobs ranked 20th out of all qualifiers at his position in 2020. Clelin Ferrell contributed just two sacks in 11 games as an NFL sophomore.
While Arnette ranked 116th out of 121 cornerbacks, per PFF, 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen wasn’t much better, checking in at No. 82.
The only player out of Mayock’s five first-round picks of late who seems to have the best chance at long-term success is Jacobs, but for running backs, “long-term” is relative, as it’s the most replaceable position on the field in the modern NFL.
No need to overreact, though. It’ll still be a number of years before the final word is in on how Mayock’s picks ultimately pan out.
Mayock did appear to have an encouraging shade to his critiques of Ruggs and Arnette, but maybe it’s time for him to do a little better so that the Raiders don’t put head coach and offensive guru Jon Gruden on the hot seat too soon.