(Image credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
The 2020 NFL Draft was a weird one as it was occurring in the middle of a global pandemic and had no fans in attendance to watch these rookies be selected. I already looked ahead to this draft class and there is one draft class in this draft class that I couldn’t keep my eye off of, the Las Vegas Raiders. This was the second draft that they had a ton of draft capital including two 1st and three 3rd round picks. It was their chance to build this team up and be successful and regain the Superbowl team label they were hyped up as during the Jack Del Rio days. After not even a season and a half passing the 2020 NFL Draft, there is already one thing that I have to say. This draft class for the Raiders is horrible. Never have I ever seen a team's draft class be this much of a complete flop this quickly in my entire lifetime. I am not going to blame the current GM Mike Mayock too much as a result of the pandemic and let's be real Mike Mayock was not behind these draft decisions. The real person to blame is Jon Gruden as he was the person that had the final say of who to take, not Mike Mayock. That is not a joke as reports came out confirming that Gruden had the final say. Mayock was mainly hired for his scouting skills as Jon Gruden was not good at scouting recent players in the new NFL. I mean look at the QBs that he thought were going to be the best in this league during the draft including Paxton Lynch (Called him Cam Newton 2.0), Nathan Peterman (Even signed him to a contract with Raiders), Connor Cook (Thought he was a first-round prospect), and Brandon Weeden. Heck even though Christian Hackenburg was the steal of the draft and was a top 15 prospect at one point. Gruden even tried to trade for him until he realized it was a mistake, cutting him not three weeks into Hackenburg’s career with the Raiders. So I decided why not go through the Raiders 2020 NFL Draft class, see what happened to these prospects today, and grade this draft class.
Keep in mind as always when I grade a prospect as a HACKENBURG grade that means it is a failing grade and the prospect is a complete bust in the League.
2020 NFL Draft Class Raiders
WR Henry Ruggs (Round 1 - 12th Overall)
Looking back at the 2020 NFL Draft I was very confused to see that Henry Ruggs was the first selection of this draft. I did not hate him as a prospect but I always believed that CeeDee lamb or Jerry Jeudy would be better players to take first. But if there is one thing the Raiders are known for is the organization’s high value for speed. Even during the Al Davis years, they were known to draft players based on how fast they are. Ruggs had the tools needed when catching but had issues with durability, can be inconsistent when he is releasing the LOS, lacks awareness, and catches the football.
Once Ruggs was officially in a Raiders uniform he did not have a strong rookie season as he had 26 catches for 452 yards and had 2 receiving touchdowns in 13 games. He was not the best but showed flashes that he could be a great receiver in this league. Then came the next season where he had a stronger season as in 7 games Ruggs had 24 catches for 469 yards and had two receiving touchdowns. He was having a better season than last year and was on the right track to having a better season and showing a ton of improvement until tragedy would strike.
On November 2nd, 2021 Henry Ruggs drove under the influence and it resulted in the death of 23-year-old Tina Tintor. That is not all as Ruggs would later be charged with multiple felonies including two counts of a DUI, two counts of Reckless driving, and possessed a gun while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Ruggs was driving 156 mph and had a blood alcohol of around .161. That is just a dumb decision especially as that mph was around the minimum that NASCAR Drivers normally drive at. Henry Ruggs is now facing 2-50 years in prison and the Raiders immediately released Ruggs after came out to the public. Ruggs will never play another down of football ever again after this crash occurred.
My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this crash and to the family of Tina Tintor.
Rest in Peace Tina Tintor.
As a result of Henry Ruggs and his sudden fall from grace, I have to give his selection as a HACKENBURG grade.
CB Damon Arnette (Round 1 - 19th Overall
When I heard Damon Arnette’s name being taken in the 1st round I was shocked and confused. I had Arnette going in the 3rd round of the draft and the Raiders took him 19th overall. This was labeled as a complete reach by many including myself. Arnette had a ton of Character concerns, poor footwork, lacked awareness, and had bad instincts when in coverage plus making tackles.
No surprise he was absolutely terrible for the Raiders on the field. He only had 29 tackles and 3 pass deflections in a total of 13 games. He was so bad that Arnette got benched many points in the season and was only seen on special teams. Already he was looking like a bust and then came the off-the-field issues. The first news came where Arnette was in the middle of a lawsuit due to a car crash that happened during the offseason. Then A video uploaded by Damon Arnette showed him with multiple guns making death threats to fans. Which is an incredibly stupid thing for Arnette to do especially with what happened with both Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs. No surprise that the Raiders decided to cut ties with Arnette. So make that 3 fall from grace's the Raiders have gone through in the 2021 NFL season.
This was an easy grade to make then and now involving Damon Arnette.
WR/RB Lynn Bowden (Round 3 80th
I was a fan of this pick as the Raiders did need depth at WR and Running back. GM Mike Mayock even admitted he would be utilized as a utility player/swiss army. I was excited to see how he would fit on the Raiders so what happened with him. Well, guess what Lynn Bowden never even played any snaps with the Raiders and was traded not even 5 months pass during his Rookie season along with a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for a 2021 fourth-round pick. What a waste of a third-round pick and If that trade does not tell you that this was a HACKENBURG Grade selection I don’t know what does.
WR Bryan Edwards (Round 3 - 81st Overall)
Edwards has not been terrible just meh. Edwards was hyped for many training camps and failed to impress during his rookie season as he had 11 receptions for 193 yards and a receiving touchdown. Edwards did get a little better this season as he is currently the starting receiver on the Raiders but he has been extremely inconsistent throughout his time with the Las Vegas Raiders. One moment he would be fantastic and make a nice reception but in other games, he would be terrible and liability on offense. With time Edwards could get better but worse for worse he would be a solid player to have for special teams. I debated either a C or a D grading this but I am leaning towards a C with this grade. I do have to put a Spoiler out here now: This is the best selection that the Las Vegas Raiders made in this draft.
LB Tanner Muse (Round 3 - 100th Overall)
Tanner Muse was not a terrible selection but it made sense why the Raiders took him. They needed to get more depth and improve the Linebacker Core. There were positives about Muse including his tackling ability and how well he performs in coverage. There were Negatives as well including that he doesn't have the best footwork and does not have the best utilization of his hips. It was worth a shot taking Muse and developing him as a part of their linebacker core so the Raiders took him. Muse was a case of bad luck as he suffered a season-ending foot injury and was placed on the Covid list. It was a tough break with bad injury luck but the Raiders next move made no sense. What did the Raiders do well the organization decided to cut him thus never played a snap with the raiders organization. Again a waste of a third-round pick and another HACKENBURG Grade.
OL John Simpson (Round 4 - 109th Overall)
Never hurts to get more depth on the o-line especially as at the time the Raiders were looking to move on from Gabe Jackson (They couldn’t find a trade until the next draft). John Simpson was a solid selection to develop until the time came of Gabe Jackson’s departure from the Las Vegas Raiders. Simpson did start a few games during his rookie season and he struggled a lot as he was often getting dominated by defenders. Last season Simpson was more of a rotational Backup o-lineman which is a disappointment of a selection. He has gotten better this season and has been a starting o-lineman for the Raiders but there is still a ton of room for improvement for John Simpson especially with being more consistent. I debated as I did with Bryan Edwards giving a C or D grade and I am leaning towards a D+. Hopefully, Simpson can be a little more consistent with his play this season.
CB Amik Robertson (Round 4 - 139th Overall)
I thought it was a round too early when the Raiders took him but the Raiders needed to improve the depth at secondary. He had the opportunity to be a strong part of the Raiders secondary. However, It is never a good sign when a player like Amik Robertson has been benched due to his poor play and durability concerns as he has had a hip injury. Robertson has mainly been a plug-in piece when the Raiders secondary is badly beaten up and Robertson does not do a great job when he is on the field. Especially when he misses tackles and is overmatched in coverage.