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NFL Draft

Re-Grading Raiders’ 2018-2020 NFL Drafts

  • The Draft Network
  • July 9, 2021
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Is Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden on the hot seat? Not even halfway through a 10-year deal, I don’t think so at all. But his general manager Mike Mayock might be. Though we all assume Gruden is really the one calling the shots on draft night, Mayock still might be the one who is taking the fall for some of the Raiders’ failed draft picks over the years—of which there are many.

Gruden’s return to football hasn't been as triumphant as the first time he was a head coach, winning a Super Bowl and a few more division titles with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the early 2000s. On the plus side, the Raiders have improved their record every year under Gruden, first at 4-12, then 7-9, and most recently 8-8. If the arrow continues to go up, we might be talking about a playoff team in 2021. But if the arrow starts to point down, I predict there will be quite a lot of finger-pointing done—maybe using their recent draft classes as an example.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Raiders have drafted under Gruden to understand.

2020 Draft Class

Round 1: Henry Ruggs, WR

Round 1: Damon Arnette, CB

Round 3: Lynn Bowden Jr., WR

Round 3: Bryan Edwards, WR

Round 3: Tanner Muse, S

Round 4: John Simpson, OG

Round 4: Amik Robertson, CB

This class looks like a giant whiff so far. Ruggs didn’t have a big impact in his rookie season outside of running deep routes as a distraction. Arnette was only able to start in seven games. Bowden was traded before the season began, and the injury-prone Edwards was unfortunately still injury-prone in his first year in the pros. Simpson played in 2020, but to not much success. Muse moved to linebacker but missed his first year due to a foot injury.

Overall, a poor showing thus far from the Raiders’ 2020 group. But hopefully health will be more on their side moving forward.

Draft Grade: D

2019 Draft Class

Round 1: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE

Round 1: Josh Jacobs, RB

Round 1: Johnathan Abram, S

Round 2: Trayvon Mullen, CB

Round 4: Maxx Crosby, EDGE

Round 4: Isaiah Johnson, CB

Round 4: Foster Moreau, TE

Round 5: Hunter Renfrow, WR

Round 7: Quinton Bell, EDGE

The 2019 class was a mixed bag. Ferrell was overdrafted at No. 4 overall, especially over the likes of Josh Allen, Brian Burns, and Montez Sweat. But Jacobs has become the Raiders’ bell cow on offense. Abram is a high-risk, high-reward player whose play has been so up and down that the Raiders drafted three potential safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft. Mullen has gained a starting spot as a cornerback and both Crosby and Renfrow have been diamonds in the rough for them. 

It’s been an up-and-down class two years in, but the lack of consistent impact from two of their three first-rounders hurts this grade.

Draft Grade: C+

2018 Draft Class

Round 1: Kolton Miller, OT

Round 2: P.J. Hall, DT

Round 2: Brandon Parker, OT

Round 4: Arden Key, EDGE

Round 5: Nick Nelson, CB

Round 6: Maurice Hurst, DT

Round 7: Johnny Townsend, P

Round 6: Azeem Victor, LB

Round 7: Marcell Ateman, WR

The good news is the Raiders hit on the pick they were supposed to in Miller. Though it has taken him a few years to really get acclimated, Miller was good last season and the arrow is pointing up for him as a starter. The bad news is, well, everything else. Hall, Key, Nelson, and Hurst are no longer on the team, and Parker has really struggled. Just the number of players already gone from this class makes it questionable, and of the ones who are left, their impact outside of Miller is minimal.

Draft Grade: D

Gruden has long tried to do what Bill Belichick does in New England: be the head coach and the general manager. Mayock is there, but like we said, it feels like everyone knows Gruden is running the show. So far not so good with what the Raiders have done between 2018-2020. They’ll need some much better showings from the guys they’ve drafted across the board to gain some confidence back in this regime’s drafting abilities.

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