Last year, the Silver and Black had a trio of first-round picks, which they used to select defensive end Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall), running back Josh Jacobs (No. 24 overall), and safety Johnathan Abram (No. 27 overall). In his first year as General Manager, Mike Mayock had a lot of draft capital to work with and the same goes for year two.
Two years removed from the NFL Network set as a draft analyst, Mike Mayock entered this draft feeling confident, despite the unique circumstances. Holed up in his living room with five whiteboards and over 1,000 magnets with the names of prospects on them, Mayock went to work with Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, analysts made several predictions about who the duo would target with their first-round picks, and several were quick to assume wide receiver would be at the top of their wish list, and they were right.
With the No. 12 overall pick, Mayock and Gruden went out and selected the first wide receiver in the draft, and the fastest — Al Davis is looking down smiling. Ruggs ran a 4.27 40-yard dash, but the Raiders like him for more than just his speed.
"He can run the deep routes. He also gets the manufactured touches, the bubble screens, the jet sweeps," Mayock said during his post first-round press conference. "I think if you force defenses to roll coverage, it opens up our run game. You respect our deep routes, it opens up Darren Waller. I just think it does an awful lot of things for us offensively and I think the most important thing is I think Coach Gruden and the staff will get everything out of him."
With the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.
Mayock also shared why Ruggs stood out above the other receivers in the class, "All three wide receivers we felt were diverse and would bring different things to the Raiders and I feel like Coach Gruden and that offensive staff is so good they could have gotten the most out of all three of them. However, the distinguishing factor really was his speed, his explosion and his work ethic."
In a division where speed is of the utmost importance, Mayock and Gruden knew they needed to improve in this area in order to contend. With the Tyreek Hills and Keenan Allens running rampant in the AFC West, the Raiders needed their guy and now they've got him.
The Ruggs pick wasn't surprising, but the decision to select Damon Arnette with the No. 19 pick caught a lot of people off guard. He wasn't labeled as a first-round choice by a handful of draft analysts, but Mayock and Gruden wanted to get their guy, and they don't feel like they reached for him.
"The reason he's not a reach is because of his grade in our system," he stated. "Did I think we could have moved down maybe and still got him? Maybe, but we didn't want to lose him. What distinguishes him is No. 1, he can run. No. 2, he's tough as nails and when you talk about competitors."
Following a year when NFL pundits praised Mayock and Gruden for coming away with the best draft class from 2019, the negativity toward the Raiders' pair of first-round picks seems unwarranted and the duo have earned the benefit of the doubt — not that either of them care for anyone else's approval.
The Raiders are continuing to find and acquire foundational pieces for the future of this organization and right now, they're in a good position. We all knew the Raiders needed to address the wide receiver and cornerback positions; they did that. If Mayock is fired up about the newest members of the team then I am too.