The 2020 Las Vegas Raiders finished the season with a .500 record, which was a one-win improvement from the year before. Unfortunately, the eight wins were overshadowed by the fact that they started the season at 6-3, and many believed that they would be a playoff team.
The Raiders struggled to get consistent play from their rookie class, which was a big reason why they struggled to make the playoffs once again this past season. Having two first-round picks, and coming off a seven-win season, the expectation was that they would take the next step forward, but there are just as many question marks heading into this offseason as there was last year.
With their first of two first-round picks, the Raiders selected Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, someone who was supposed to go in the first round, but maybe not be the first wide receiver selection. Ruggs, who would have fit the mold of an Al Davis pick thanks to his blinding speed, struggled to play consistent football all season long, and really did not have the kind of season many expected.
Remember, the Raiders had their pick of wide receivers sitting at No. 11 overall but passed on the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Jefferson with the selection of Ruggs. After one season, it looks like they made a mistake.
Raiders need a monster year from Ruggs in 2021
Luckily for the Raiders, and for Ruggs, he is still very young, and he came into the league in the most strange season in NFL history due to the pandemic. In 2021, the expectation is that he will improve, and he has to, as he will be expected to lead a position group that goes into this offseason with a lot of question marks.
The Raiders are planning on releasing Tyrell Williams, have Nelson Agholor entering free agency, and we did not get to see much of Bryan Edwards as a rookie. Hunter Renfrow has been a constant, but if this Raiders passing attack is going to continue to move in the right direction, Ruggs needs to prove he is the best of the 2020 draft class at his position group.
Jefferson was a monster in 2020, and Lamb and Tee Higgins broke the 900-yard mark. Even Chase Claypool, Brandon Aiyuk, and Laviska Shenault Jr. had better production than Ruggs, the first of the group taken. Las Vegas has a lot of decisions to make with this roster, but if Ruggs can become a true WR1, it clears a lot of the issues at the position group moving forward.