The 2020 Las Vegas Raiders draft class mostly struggled in Year 1, something the 2021 Raiders draft class cannot afford to do.
It has been an interesting offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders, who added a quality edge rusher in free agency in Yannick Ngakoue and filled in a lot of areas with depth pieces. Guys like John Brown and Willie Snead are going to help at wide receiver, and Kenyan Drake should be an outstanding No. 2 behind Josh Jacobs at running back.
Overall, it was a nice haul for the Raiders, who also bolstered the defensive line on the interior. Finally, Karl Joseph returns at safety, and while he may not be a starter this time around, he is going to bring depth to a position group that was a major weakness during the 2020 campaign.
During that 2020 season, the rookie class struggled mightily, as they did not have a real offseason, and had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. On the field, they were inconsistent, or non-existent depending on the player, a trend that cannot continue with the 2021 class.
Raiders drafted for need in 2021
The Raiders 2021 class is coming in to fill big needs, including at right tackle, where Alex Leatherwood takes over for Trent Brown. Leatherwood was not considered a first-round prospect by many but has the size and strength to be a solid player on the right side, even as a rookie and the hope is he can be a great complement to Kolton Miller.
On defense, the secondary will see plenty of new faces in the defensive backfield at both safety and cornerback. Trevon Moehrig fills a giant void for the Raiders, who have gotten inconsistent play from Johnathan Abram, and had to lean on Jeff Heath in a big way during the 2020 season.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has put together three solid seasons under Jon Gruden, but is he in line for an MVP year in 2021?
Players like Divine Deablo and Malcolm Koonce will bring solid depth at linebacker, and defensive end, respectively, while Tyree Gillespie and Nate Hobbs will add depth in the secondary. While seventh-round pick Jimmy Morrissey is not expected to do much as a rookie, the other players will have to step up if the Raiders are to finally become a playoff team.
If they have a repeat of the 2020 class, it could be a long season.