The Raiders rehearsed and rehearsed and then rehearsed some more heading into this virtual NFL draft, where general manager Mike Mayock, head coach Jon Gruden and their staff worked remotely while spread across the country.
They didn’t want any hiccups due to technology or miscommunication, or failing to capitalize on a trade presented to them to make picks without issue.
Mayock and head coach/final decision maker Jon Gruden were able to make picks without incident, selecting Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III at No. 12 overall and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette at 19.
They didn’t make a trade, something that seemed a vital part of their draft execution but stayed put and took guys they wanted who were still available to fill pressing needs.
They addressed receiver and cornerback with their earliest picks. That seemed like an obvious move heading into Thursday’s first round, and that’s exactly how it played out. The Raiders seemed set on taking a receiver at No. 12 -- especially after C.J. Henderson and Isaiah Simmons came off the board -- and a cornerback at No. 19.
The Silver and Black need instant an instant impact from Ruggs and Arnette, and higher selections have a better chance of achieving that goal.
The Raiders have a long time to wait before selecting again, before a third-round flurry begins with the Nos. 80, 81 and 91 overall selections.
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The Raiders gave their 2020 second-round pick to Chicago in the Khalil Mack trade, creating a large gap between picks. That must be a bummer for the Raiders, who could use a second-round talent to add to the draft class. They still have needs to fill, at defensive line and running back, especially. They could use another receiver as well.
They could package a few of their third-round picks in a trade-up scenario, but that wouldn’t increase their standing substantially. Moving down from No. 19 offered the best possibility for that.
That seemed especially vital after the Arnette pick, which Mayock admitted Thursday night he could’ve made later. Most NFL draft analysts considered him a Day 2 prospect, an opinion the Raiders did not share.
“The reason he’s not a reach is because of his grade in our system,” Mayock said in a conference call with Raiders reporters. “Did I think we could have moved down maybe and still got him? Maybe, but we didn’t want to lose him.”
The Raiders came away feeling good about their acquisitions and are ready to carry on into Friday's second and third rounds. Time on the clock decreases in these rounds, and the Raiders have to continue running a smooth ship as this NFL draft progresses.
“It really we worked out for us tonight,” Mayock said. “We had several times where we had two or three teams on the line. There were no glitches, we were able to get the information smoothly, get the information easily. We're really happy with where our numbers are, where our stats are. Knock on wood, it went well tonight. It will get more and more complicated as we get less and less time between picks."
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While some eyebrows may have been raised, the Silver and Black came away happy with two dynamic athletes at premium positions.
“We feel like the Las Vegas Raiders got faster, we got tougher and we got more competitive tonight,” Mayock said. “We got the wide receiver at pick No. 12. He’s the fastest wideout in the draft. We got the corner at No. 19. We did an awful lot of work on him, spent a lot of time. I did school visits there to both places and I feel like I know both kids really well. So Jon and I could not be more pleased. The coaches are fired up, the scouts are fired up and trust me [Owner] Mr. [Mark] Davis, when we took the fastest wideout in the draft, Mr. Davis said that his father was looking down and smiling.”