Survey of 10 National Analysts Grading the Raiders Draft

Draft grades are worthless but we do them anyway… because they are fun.

Let’s look at a survey of 10 draft grades handed out to the Raiders over the last week – all by recognized national outlets. An excerpt of each writer’s analysis is included below the grade.

We’ll revisit these grades at the end of the season.

Bleacher Report (Alex Ballentine)

Grade: C-

Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock did it again. The Las Vegas Raiders have become one of the more difficult teams to predict (and understand) regarding the draft. They had multiple picks in the first round and sprung surprises each time. Last year it was Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. This year, it was Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette…

Almost every Raiders pick was a high-risk, high-reward play. They could make this grade look dumb or generous in a few years, depending on how many of their bets hit.

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)

Grade: B

Best Pick: It was their first one, receiver Henry Ruggs. I think he will be a lot like Tyreek Hill, which is downright scary for the AFC West. 

Worst Pick: I didn’t love the pick of slot receiver Lynn Bowden in the third round. He is a bit of a project, although he has talent, and they did take Ruggs in the first. 

The Skinny: Mike Mayock had an outstanding first draft in 2019, so it’s hard to doubt him. But after Ruggs, this draft has some questions. Why did they take two more receivers in the first three rounds? I did like corner Damon Arnette, their second first-round pick, better than most.

Pro Football Focus

Grade: C

Day 1: Don’t just call Ruggs a speedster. He’s a complete route-runner with legit ball skills, as well. He doesn’t have to just be a deep threat, but he looks like a sure thing in that regard. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb were still available and higher on PFF’s big board, but Ruggs offers speed you won’t find anywhere else and still ranked 10th among all players on PFF’s board in the 2020 class.

Per The Athletic’s 2020 Consensus Board, Arnette was one of the bigger consensus reaches of the first round. His consensus rank was just 63rd, and his rank on PFF’s board was just 88th. He’s a physical, aggressive player who wins with his aggressiveness at the catch point and in press concepts, but he’s also a sub-par athlete with short arms for the cornerback position who will turn 24 years old in September. He never graded at an extremely high level for an older prospect, either. 

Day 2: Bowden is still more gimmick than a wide receiver. While he’s incredibly dynamic with the ball in his hands, the worry is that he’ll always have to be schemed touches in the NFL rather than collect them through the normal flow of an offense. He’ll likely back up Josh Jacobs at running back for Las Vegas. He ranked 113th on PFF’s board after playing mostly quarterback at Kentucky in 2019.

Edwards has found a lot of success by physically manhandling college corners. He needs to be more than that to win in the league, though, and hasn’t consistently shown he can separate downfield. He ranked just 128th overall and outside the top 20 receivers.

Las Vegas traded picks Nos. 91 and 159 to New England for picks No. 100, 139 and 172. After the trade-down, the Raiders added former Clemson off-ball linebacker/safety Tanner Muse to their haul. Realistically, Muse is a linebacker in the NFL and has more than enough toughness to his game to pull it off. He’s still not going to be particularly fluid or a playmaker in coverage there, though. He ranked 169th on PFF’s board.

Day 3: Amik Robertson is a DOG. He’s a smaller cornerback who plays like he’s 6-foot-10. He projects as an extremely productive slot cornerback at the next level. His overall grades improved in each of the past three seasons at LA Tech, and he finished as the No. 75 player on PFF’s Big Board. He also ranked highly in many of PFF’s advanced coverage metrics

Sports Illustrated (Andy Benoit)

Grade: C+

We learned last year that the Raiders badly want a stud wide receiver, and now they have one who can actually be counted on. Henry Ruggs III has effortless, jaw-dropping speed, and he can produce at all three levels. That’s notable because few offensive architects are as creative and diverse in three-level passing concepts as Jon Gruden. Ruggs also presents terrifying big-play potential on jet sweeps and quick screens.

Last season, the Raiders had far fewer 20-plus-yard air throws than most teams. That should change now—though to make the Ruggs pick fully worth it, you can bet Gruden will ride Derek Carr even harder about playing aggressively.

While Ruggs brings a speed dimension, Las Vegas’s third-round pick, Lynn Bowden, brings a gadgetry dimension. This pick was likely also made with the return game in mind, given that Las Vegas’s receiving corps is fully, and very clearly fledged out (Tyrell Williams is the X, Henry Ruggs the Z, Hunter Renfrow the slot and Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor the depth providers). The depth here also makes you scratch your head a bit about the selection of Bryan Edwards, who came immediately after Bowden.

On defense, even though coordinator Paul Guenther plays a lot of zone coverage with two safeties back deep, he has always prioritizing having talent at cornerback. Guenther coached a trio of first-round corners when he was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati (Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard), and now he has a 2020 first-round corner to pair opposite 2018 second-round corner Trayvon Mullen. (And Damon Arnette was only selected because a free agent deal with another former first-round corner that they had acquired, ex-Giant/Saint Eli Apple, fell through.)

“But just one problem,” the critics say. “Arnette is not really a first-round corner. Most mock drafts had him going in Round 2, maybe even 3.” Maybe that’s valid, and that’s certainly the type of thing that will ding Las Vegas’s draft grade. But GM Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden couldn’t care less, and they understand that to assume a guy will go later in the draft, you are—on some level—assuming you know 31 other teams’ draft boards. It’s not the worst thing to like a player (a lot, presumably) and pick that player.

Tanner Muse is a safety-linebacker hybrid player. The Raiders likely see him as a potentially dynamic special teamer early on given that they already spent big money on capable cover linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski.

Yahoo! Sports (Eric Edholm)

Grade: C

Favorite pick: Robertson

Robertson, who missed our top 100, has a decent chance to win the nickel job early on. His ball production in college (14 interceptions) was absurd, and Robertson can overcome his lack of size with good quickness, a knack for finding the ball and a hard-nosed approach. Fun player who could end up a steal.

Least-favorite pick: Arnette

Count us as fans of the Buckeyes corner, more so than other media draft folks seem to be. But we had him rated a second-round pick, so the disappointment here is that the Raiders were not able to trade down and grab him later. This isn’t as bad a pick as some made it out to be, as Arnette is a tough customer who fits the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock mold. Will he ever be a first-round playmaker? It’s unclear.

Overall: Even with the Raiders’ plan to move Bowden — a college receiver who was forced into QB duties out of need — to running back, we still see a little bit of overlap here with him, Ruggs and Edwards. They’re all different styles, but getting early returns from all three could be tough. Simpson was a nice pick late who should outplay his draft status, along with Robertson. It’s a top-heavy crop, with no picks after Round 4. Did the Raiders land enough high-end impact players overall? With the book closed on the Khalil Mack trade, that question will be asked more.

ESPN (Mel Kiper)

Grade: B

This is a very Raiders draft, right? They reached for the fastest prospect in the class in the first round. They took three wide receivers in their first four picks. And coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock took two more Clemson prospects, making that five total over the past two drafts.

They clearly needed help at wide receiver, but I still thought they could take quarterback Jordan Love in Round 1 — he was on the board for both of their picks. Instead, they’re going to try to help incumbent starter Derek Carr as much as possible in 2020. Henry Ruggs III (12) is an underrated route runner, and he can score any time he gets the ball in his hands. And with Carr averaging a league-low 6.2 air yards per attempt last season, expect Ruggs to get a lot of those short targets…

Las Vegas reached a little bit with its other first-round pick — marking the end of the first-rounders from the Khalil Mack trade — as cornerback Damon Arnette (19) fills a need position but is lower on my board. He is my sixth-ranked corner, and I had him No. 51 overall, though it’s not as big of a reach as Atlanta taking A.J. Terrell at No. 16. Arnette is a fine player, but could Gruden and Mayock have traded down to get him?”

USA Today (Nate Davis)

Grade: C

GM Mike Mayock, who did a nice job picking players during his 2019 debut, continues hoarding Clemson Tigers – the tally up to five in two draft classes. More important, first-round WR Henry Ruggs, he of the 4.27-second 40-yard dash, is a classic Raider pick and one who should lighten the box for former Tide teammate Josh Jacobs while pulling coverage off TE Darren Waller.

We’ll see if first-round CB Damon Arnette was a reach and what Jon Gruden is going to do with this surplus of receivers – though Ruggs and third-round WR Lynn Bowden could allow the coach to get especially creative. One lingering question: Was owner Mark Davis’ decision not to pay Mack really worth it in hindsight now that the trade freight has been exhausted?

The Athletic (Dane Brugler)

Grade: Rank 19/32

Favorite pick: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Raiders know better than most teams the impact that Tyreek Hill makes on a football game so they went out and found their own version. Ruggs has special athleticism and it will be fun to see how Jon Gruden incorporates his skills into the offense. I thought Arnette was a reach, which is why the Raiders aren’t higher on this list.

Day three pick who could surprise: John Simpson, OG, Clemson. General manager Mike Mayock unsurprisingly added two Clemson players in this draft, including Simpson who was my No. 2 rated guard. With the future of Gabe Jackson in Las Vegas up in the air, Simpson could be a starter sooner than expected and I’ll bet he outplays his draft spot.

Establish the Run (Evan Silva)

Grade: C+

Raiders GM Mike Mayock’s second draft was long on big-school prospects and emphasized playmakers on both sides of the ball. As Derek Carr has lacked a true field stretcher throughout his NFL tenure, Ruggs’ 4.27 speed will give Mayock and Jon Gruden a fair evaluation of Carr in his make-or-break year. Announced as a running back, Bowden’s backfield-slot-return game versatility reminds of Randall Cobb.

Edwards is a physical, target-commanding possession receiver who would have gone earlier if not for his checkered injury history. Muse led Clemson in interceptions in his final year, then blew up the Combine by running 4.41 at 230 pounds. Simpson provides insurance on RG Gabe Jackson, heavily rumored to be on the trade block. Robertson is a feisty 5-foot-8 college outside corner who will have to convert to the slot.

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer)

Grade: C-

Unfortunately, the Arnette pick dealt a major blow to Las Vegas’ grade as a third-round prospect the Raiders stunningly reached for in the top 20. Arnette is old for a rookie (24 in September), slow for a cornerback (4.56), and was removed from several teams’ boards due to off-field concerns. My guess is the Raiders panicked after the Falcons reached for A.J. Terrell three picks before.

Links to draft grades above can be found below.

twitter: @raidersbeat


7 thoughts on “Survey of 10 National Analysts Grading the Raiders Draft

  1. Shoulda/coulda/woulda… What a bunch of second guessing Monday Morning Quarterbacks! Reminds me of an old college joke: Those that CAN’T ,Teach !! These so-called-expert analysts questions and prophesy will be a bitter pill to swallow after this experiment gels and this team shows what it has. These players are gamers and all this negative banter will only drive the team’s determination to prove the hacks wrong. Go Raider Nation, Revenge is a dish best served cold. Can’t wait for these doubters to eat their words!

  2. It’s funny all but 3 graded in the C’ s yet talked highly of the picks. Except 1 who put Arnette down for having “short arms”. Opinions are like assholes. Most of the time they stink.

  3. I used to print , save and compare these “National Analysts” and their “grades” for about 5 years. I did that to see who if any of them, seemed to know what they are talking about. What I found is that they were wrong the majority of the time. Their comments, which I found were at opposing ends of the spectrum, both negative and positive at the same time. They praise a player, and then offer a “major” shortcoming. What they were doing is hedging their bets, so they could claim victory no matter which way the player’s stock went in the NFL. They are all overpaid jokes, I watch them and read their articles with glee, and for a good laugh…..

  4. With the pass happy AFC West now, it would have been nice to have Mack’s pressure.Trade had to be. I think we should have got more for Amari Cooper or kept him. Both trades gave us more quality younger players. Future looks bright! Better wear shades😎

  5. I would say this, Mayock knows what he is doing. Nobody thought Crosby would be the player he is, did he reach on Ferrell, yes, but he is going to be a solid player, probably not great, but a good player. Was he worth the 4th pick of the first round, probably not, but the pick is was not a horrible pick. This year’s draft was very similar, Mayock will take risks to strike gold, and only time will tell where this draft ends up. The Raiders love taking db’s early in drafts, they seem to avoid LB’s early in the draft. Hopefully the draft turns out to be a home run.

  6. please tell me how many of these so-called “experts” have actually done it for real….how many have actually recently served as scouts/trainers/coaches/GM’s/player personnel directors, at the NFL (or even, NCAA) level. lmk which teams that they worked for, and what their track-record was with those teams. If you want to do the leg-work, and get the opinions from those that did it a high-level (like Bill Polian), then I’ll give credence to these articles.

  7. Any of these experts ever play football. coach football? We will see what experts they are –

Comments are closed.