Las Vegas Raiders first round draft pick Damon Arnette is getting first-team reps, and has started to impress coaches and teammates alike.
When Damon Arnette was chosen as the 19th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, there were groans throughout Raider Nation. Las Vegas Raiders fans and national pundits alike, panned the pick as a reach.
There were even grumblings from onlookers who have began to question Mike Mayock‘s ability to trade down and accrue extra capital instead of selecting a player perhaps higher than what is widely considered to be their draft stock.
Of course, cornerback was a position in need of starters and depth, and selecting a cornerback was certainly the right thing to do. Mayock and Gruden could have decided on a few different players at that position to take with the 19th overall pick, including TCU’s Jeff Gladney, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, and Utah’s Jaylon Johnson.
All of those received more attention from draft media leading up to that day, and the Raiders could have had any of those guys, but instead opted for Arnette because of the competitive fire he brings. On Thursday, that competitive fire was not lost on the Raiders star tight end, Darren Waller according to a tweet by Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee.
According to recent press conference remarks, Arnette’s attitude that made him the 4th CB selected in April is impressing his teammates. Raiders fans want to see turnovers and lock-down man-to-man cornerbacks taken in the first round, but fans also need to remember that Gruden wants guys who bring effort and hustle first and foremost.
Little things like tackling, getting off blocks, and running to the ball carrier aren’t sexy for a cornerback, but are non-negotiable from the Raiders brain-trust when selecting a defender in Round 1. Arnette has those qualities in spades.