Damon Arnette is the Raiders Latest Draft “Reach” But is He Going to be Better Than Advertised?

Surprise first-round picks have become a tradition unlike any other for the Raiders and, once again, they shocked the NFL draft community on Thursday night when they took Ohio State CB Damon Arnette with the no. 19 pick

Arnette was a relative unknown to first-round mock drafts, but if we’ve learned anything in the past two years it’s that, much like the late Al Davis, Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock doesn’t care what the mocks are telling him. He took Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell at no. 4 overall last year and wasn’t afraid to surprise the “experts” again this year.

So what are the Raiders signing up for with Arnette?

Arnette was often overshadowed by defensive teammates, but he quietly had a great 2019 season at Ohio State. He isn’t the fastest (4.56 forty) and he doesn’t have the prototypical arm length (30 inches) that scouts like, but Arnette is a gritty, fast-twitched prospect who Mayock believes will bring toughness to the Raider defense.

Pro Football Focus analytics loved him last year…

Nevertheless, some at Pro Football Focus aren’t buying the Pro Football Focus analytics when it comes to Arnette’s transition to the NFL…

Mike Renner on Twitter

Damon Arnette is old (24 in September), slow (4.56), and has short arms (30″). Regardless of what you think of his tape, that is NOT the physical profile you see drafted round 1. Raiders win most surprising round 1 pick for 2nd straight season

Interesting, right?

Austin Gayle on Twitter

Damon Arnette is a sub-par athlete with short arms and character concerns (and older). He’s also overly physical/aggressive at times. But… He did improve significantly from 2018 to 2019. His press technique, physicality and violence at the catch point all stand out.

Off the field, some labeled Arnette as a slight “character risk” and that was something the soon-to-be 24 year-old cornerback addressed prior to the draft.

“I’ve never gotten arrested. I never had an abuse charge or nothing like that,” Arnette told Cleveland.com. “So character concerns, I feel that word is just used real loosely, when you really think of what character concerns really are.”

“I was just a young man that needed to mature a little bit more. And I feel like that growth from 2018 to 2019, that’s exactly what I did. I grew up. The balance of maturity that I had off the field was able to translate to the play on the field.”

Teammate Jordan Fuller said Arnette, who recently became a father, flipped a switch in 2019 and became one of the leaders in the OSU locker room this year.

“From the moment he said he was coming back to school, you could see a change in his whole demeanor,” Fuller said of Arnette. “He was doing community service like going to schools, talking to kids about his journey, what to do, what not to do. He was a huge leader in our DB room. By the end of our year, he was one of our biggest leaders on the whole defense – giving speeches to the whole team. He’s definitely somebody that everybody listens to and takes really, really seriously, because they know he’s about his business.”

Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah was the no. 3 pick to Detroit on Thursday night and prior to the draft he asked ESPN’s Mel Kiper why Arnette wasn’t being projected to be drafted higher.

Arrogant Ryan Day on Twitter


Kiper viewed Arnette as a second-round pick and maybe the Raiders did, too, but they weren’t willing to risk someone else getting him.

On television Mayock looked thrilled to get Arnette and told reporters that the Raiders didn’t “reach” to pick him at no. 19. Gruden was all smiles and may or may not have been texting his buddies afterwards… like this guy.

Dustin Fox on Twitter

Got a text from an NFL coach who had Damon Arnette rated as a top 10 player in this draft. Looks like the Raiders got a steal.

Based on where they probably could have picked him, it’s safe to say the Raiders did “reach” a little, but time will tell if Arnette was the right pick. Trayvon Mullen was a second-round pick a year ago and he already looks the part of an above-average cornerback. If all goes as planned, Arnette will do the same.

twitter: @raidersbeat


5 thoughts on “Damon Arnette is the Raiders Latest Draft “Reach” But is He Going to be Better Than Advertised?

  1. I hope so because these draft picks are so important that they will dictate if the Raiders become a playoff caliber team now and in the future.

  2. I guess we will see … I remember the Raiders reaching for Mike Mitchell … he played well enough to stay in the league for 10 years … not all with the Raiders., he was at his best with Pittsburgh … so coach him up … and hope we get the best from him …

  3. He’s too slow. He runs the 40 like a fast linebacker. He’ll never be able to keep up with the fast receivers. His best fit is as a slot corner.

  4. No one is really sure how any draft pick will work in football’s Big Leagues.
    We will be watching and cheering him on.
    Let’s make him feel welcome..for sure!

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