After 48 hours, the Las Vegas Raiders have improved in every area of need they had to address in the 2020 NFL Draft: Wide receiver, cornerback, and linebacker, but the job is far from over; however, General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden are very content with where they sit currently.
Following the conclusion of rounds two and three, Mayock once again took the time to hop on a conference call with reporters and assess what the team was able to accomplish after two days of work.
"I'm happy with the way today went," Mayock said. "We had three picks. We made the first two picks at 80 and 81 with Lynn Bowden Jr and Bryan Edwards. We moved down from 91 to 100 with the [New England] Patriots. Tanner Muse was target whole time, we were able to pick a fourth-round pick and swapped five's. At the end of the day, we're getting faster on both sides of the ball. We have a bunch of really competitive kids in this draft so far and I think that's what we're most excited about so far. It played out the way we'd hoped it would."
While the second day played out the way they wanted to, Mayock did admit to the media he was tempted to trade into the second round, considering the team didn't have a pick until No. 80 in the third, but after a discussion with Gruden the duo exercised patience. All three selections by the Raiders were met with wide-spread approval from fans, analysts, and players across the country.
The first of the three picks, Bowden, was met with high praise because of his versatility, all-around playmaking ability, and the fact the Raiders stole him where he landed. Former NFL executive Gil Brandt had Bowden in his top 45 players, but Mayock and Gruden were able to wait and snag him at a later spot.
Bowden is intriguing because he's played so many positions, and excelled in each of them. Mayock shared how the Raiders intend to utilize the multifaceted player.
With the 80th pick overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select running back Lynn Bowden Jr.
"Ultimately, he'll probably be what we call a joker, which is what I love in [Head Coach] Jon [Gruden's] offense," Mayock stated. "It's somebody who can do multiple jobs. But day one, he's going to come in and be a running back. In the SEC two years ago, he caught 60-70 passes as a slot. Last year as you guys know he was quarterback/wildcat. He gained over 1,000 yards. We think he's one of the most athletic, tougher guys in this year's draft. We're going to train him to be running back, if he's able to do that job, we'll be able to do some other things with him."
Among the "other things" Mayock and Gruden have planned for Bowden, they'll start him out as a punt returner, which is a position the Raiders have needed to improve.
Personally, the player I'm most excited about is the addition of former University of South Carolina wide receiver, Bryan Edwards. The former Gamecock was labeled by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah as a second-round pick, but because of an injury he suffered while training caused him to slip to the third round.
"He would've been in the second round in this draft if he had a chance to be healthy going through the [Combine] process," Jeremiah said during the broadcast. "He's somebody that's going to play the X receiver on the outside at the next level."
Jeremiah hit the nail on the head, as Mayock announced during his call that Edwards would indeed be competing for the X receiver position. With the addition of Edwards, the Raiders have 10 wide receivers on the active roster, which should create a lot of competition heading into the 2020 season.
Last, but certainly not least, the Raiders ended the day with the 100th pick of the draft, Tanner Muse, who Mayock couldn't contain his enthusiasm about.
"Last year he impressed me because he played all over the field," Mayock said. "He was not just a safety, a strong safety, he played some linebacker. He came off the edge, he covered the man. He blew a lot of people away when at 227 pounds he ran 4.39. The rub for him day one is to be a core special teams player. While he's getting 20, 25 snaps a game at special teams he's got to learn how to learn MIKE and WILL linebacker. He's predominately a safety but he's going to be a linebacker for us."
So far, the Raiders 2020 Draft Class is capable of thriving in a multitude of ways. Mayock said during his call that the team needed to improve dynamically in the offseason and get more competitive. After two days of action, I think it's safe to say that box is checked.
Mayock and Gruden will get back to work tomorrow for the final day of the draft. The team currently has three remaining picks: Two in the fourth round (No. 121, No. 139) and one in the fifth round (No. 172).