The Las Vegas Raiders got quite the haul in the 2020 NFL Draft, and here are four bold predictions for the rookie class this season.
Holding two first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden had another golden opportunity to add more young and talented players to the roster. In 2019, the Raiders held on to their three first round picks and added talent on both sides of the ball, bringing in Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, and Johnathan Abram.
While those three players will figure to be cornerstones of this team for years to come, it was really Mayock's work after the first round that could make that class one of the best in team history. As we shift focus to the 2020 class, the Raiders added pieces that will not only be key for the team this season, but for the foreseeable future.
Starting with first round picks Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette, the Raiders bolstered both sides of the ball early, before landing three impact players in the third round. Tanner Muse is a hybrid defensive player that will move to linebacker at the NFL level, and both Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden Jr. will be ingrained in the Raiders offense early on.
Las Vegas' draft ended in the fourth round, as they added Muse's teammate, right guard John Simpson, and Amik Robertson, who many believe was the steal of the draft. Overall, it was a very precise haul for Mayock and Gruden, as they filled some huge needs on their roster.
With that said, here are four bold predictions for the Raiders 2020 NFL Draft class.
Henry Ruggs will break Amari Cooper's rookie records
Back in 2015, the Raiders selected Alabama wideout Amari Cooper with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, giving young Derek Carr another weapon on the outside. As a rookie, Cooper immediately made a big impact, hauling in 72 passes for 1,070 yards in what would turn out to be a Pro Bowl season as a rookie.
Not only was Cooper a Pro Bowler that year, but the 72 catches and 1,070 yards were rookie records for the franchise, two records that could fall in 2020. With the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected another Alabama wideout in the first round, and Henry Ruggs III should have his eyes on Cooper's records.
Ruggs, who is known mostly for his speed, is an incredible playmaker, and had an insane catch-to-touchdown ratio during his time with the Crimson Tide. With blinding speed, and the ability to run the entire route tree, Ruggs is going to have an instant impact in Gruden's offense, and the big numbers should follow.
Carr set a career-high in passing yards last season despite having issues at the wide receiver positions, as inconsistent play and injuries hurt the group as a whole. In Ruggs, he is getting that legitimate WR1 that he has not had in a long time, and it is not a stretch to think both of these records will go down.
Amik Robertson will start at slot corner
The Las Vegas Raiders selected Louisiana Tech's Amik Robertson in the fourth round of the draft, and like Maxx Crosby last year, Mayock may have once again struck gold in that round. Many believe that Robertson was one of the more talented cornerbacks in this draft class, and on this Raiders roster, he could supplant incumbent Lamarcus Joyner.
Joyner came over to the Raiders in free agency last offseason, and was expected to come in and dominate at the slot cornerback spot. Instead, he struggled mightily all season long, and did not play up to his lofty price tag.
During his college days, Robertson developed a reputation of playing well above his 5-foot-9 frame, and he has the quickness to be superior in coverage at the NFL level. This kid plays with incredible passion, and if given the chance to earn the job, I actually like him to win it from Joyner with a level playing field.
There has already been word that Joyner could be moved to safety, a position he had plenty of success playing during his time with the Los Angeles Rams. Robertson was an absolute steal with the Raiders final selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and it is not a stretch to think he will be in the starting lineup sooner than later.
Damon Arnette will lead the Raiders in interceptions
Last year, the then-Oakland Raiders drafted Trayvon Mullen in the second round, adding the talented cornerback who was fresh off being the Defensive Most Valuable Player in the national title game. Towards the end of the 2019 season, Mullen looked all the part of being a true CB1 at the NFL level, so the plan was to build the position group around him this offseason.
In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, with the No. 19 overall pick, the Raiders shocked some people when they drafted Ohio State's Damon Arnette. Not seen as a first rounder by many outlets, Arnette ended up being the second cornerback off the board, finishing second to only teammate Jeffrey Okudah.
What you see when you watch Arnette's tape is an Alpha male that can dominate one side of the field. With a solid camp, he is going to be starter alongside Mullen this season, even with the team bringing in Prince Amukamara, and his presence will be felt in this revamped Raiders secondary.
In fact, with Mullen having to cover the No. 1 wideout on a weekly basis, I like teams to try Arnette early and often as a rookie, and that will lead to him leading the Raiders in interceptions as a rookie. He and Okudah formed a dominant tandem at Ohio State, and he and Mullen will do the same in Vegas.
Lynn Bowden Jr. will have a rushing, receiving, and passing touchdown
During his time at Kentucky, Lynn Bowden Jr. had a crazy three-year run, one that started off with him being utilized in the passing game, and running game as a redshirt freshman. From there, he made the move to wide receiver, hauling in 67 catches as a sophomore, while scoring five times.
Last year, when the team's quarterback went down due to injury, Bowden made the move to quarterback, where he proved to be one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. He threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his work with his feet that was most impressive, as he rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns as the team's quarterback.
A consensus first-team All-American, Bowden will play a key role in this Raiders offense, and I believe he will make his presence felt in a big way on a weekly basis. In fact, he will become an explosive playmaker, and will have a rushing, receiving, and passing touchdown during his rookie campaign.
Bowden was a do-everything player in college, and you can only imagine the kind of plays Gruden is drawing up for him now that he is a member of the Silver and Black. He can run, catch, and throw, and on a Raiders offense that struggled to score in 2019 late in the season, he will prove to be quite the X-factor.