Raiders

Raiders

The Raiders took seven players in the NFL Draft’s first four rounds. You’ve seen the list and read all the report cards even if, deep down, you know they’re equally foolish and fun.

We won’t know how these players turn out for a while. They won’t even practice for months without OTAs and minicamps on the schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It’s fair to be hopeful after general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden executed a clear plan to get faster and more dynamic on both sides of the ball. If this draft class turns out like last year’s, the Silver and Black are in pretty good shape.

Time will tell on all those fronts.

The draft class made some first impressions better evaluated with awards than letter grades, so let’s break down these new Raiders in some unorthodox ways:

Best bang for the buck

WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina: Go watch some highlights of the big-bodied receiver taken No. 81 overall. The guy can flat play. He makes tremendous catches in traffic, is an excellent downfield threat and often seems to come through in the clutch. There’s no way he makes it to the third round under normal circumstances, but a broken foot and the inability to recheck it after surgery eliminated his pre-draft buzz. So he fell right into the Raiders’ lap in the third round.

 

He’s an excellent complement to No. 12 overall pick Henry Ruggs, and it’s easy to envision him having a long and productive career in Las Vegas.


The eyebrow-raiser

LB Tanner Muse, Clemson: The Raiders care far less about perceived value than draft analysts do. If a guy they like is available, they take him right then and there (See: Arnette, Damon). This isn’t an indictment of Muse’s talent. He might end up a good player, but it’s puzzling to take someone slated to be a core special teamer in the third round.

Mike Mayock said before the draft that the Raiders should get three starters with their trio of third-round picks. That’s not what Muse will be, especially while the college safety transitions to a coverage linebacker spot.

Should’ve been a Raider

S Terrell Burgess, Utah: Josh Schrock and I pondered this question on the latest Raiders Talk Podcast, and he suggested Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore for this honor, but he went to Dallas at No. 82 and I wouldn’t have sacrificed a shot to get Lynn Bowden and Edwards. I was thinking about Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison, who went No. 88 and was one of college football’s best run defenders, but you run into the same problem.

That’s why Burgess is the call here. He went No. 104 to the Rams, making him available when Muse was picked. He’s a safety with experience at cornerback, which fits the versatility they’re looking for.

Analysts said he has great football smarts and field vision, with solid tackling ability and, just like Muse, would’ve been able to be a core special teams player. On paper, leaving Burgess on the board seems like a missed opportunity.

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Best fit

CB Damon Arnette, Ohio State: It was certainly puzzling to see Arnette go at No. 19 overall, but the Raiders clearly got their guy. And it’s clear to see why they targeted the former Buckeye.

He does everything the Raiders require of a cornerback. He’s tough in press-man coverage, proving both physical and effective during an excellent senior season where he showed great improvement.

He’s a dogged run defender and a high-level competitor. His production in 2019 was top drawer and he should fit right into the Raiders' scheme with a great chance to start as a rookie.

 

[RELATED: Raiders undrafted free agent signing tracker: Las Vegas' 2020 deals]

Best draft attire

WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama: This category is included mostly so we can discuss the bathrobe. Ruggs was the most comfortable first-round draft pick to be sure, but he wasn’t just rocking the robe for swag’s sake. It wasn’t a simple endorsement either, despite it saying Old Spice on the front. It was worn to recognize a huge donation to the United Way on behalf of NFL rookies, a good cause during this public health crisis.

Best draft call

CB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech: This was a tough choice, because Gruden knows how to pull emotion out of guys just realizing a dream. Robertson gets this award for the pure emotion of the exchange. All he could say was “yes, sir,” to keep from crying on the call. He said afterward he was getting discouraged by a slide into the fourth round and was overwhelmed by the Raiders taking him at 139.

The guy’s also a great quote with great passion and a chip on his shoulder.

He’s a ballhawk, likely a draft steal and someone who seems to have a personality Raiders fans are going to like.