Every year there's a surprise in the first round and this year, Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock wanted to catch everyone by surprise.
After selecting Henry Ruggs III with the No. 12 overall pick, the Silver and Black went defense with the No. 19 pick, selecting cornerback Damon Arnette out of Ohio State. For a lot of people this was a shock, but there are individuals who think he's a steal, including a member of the division-rival Denver Broncos.
Arnette originally wanted to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, but after consulting with his coaches at Ohio State and a conversation with NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter, he decided to remain as a Buckeye for one more season.
Back for his senior season, Arnette played in 11 games, had 35 tackles, one interception, and eight passes defensed. Playing opposite from the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 Draft, Jeff Okudah, Arnette finished his career with 140 tackles, four tackles for loss, five interceptions, 22 passes defensed, one touchdown, one fumble recovery, and two forced tackles. It's worth noting too, Arnette didn't allow more than one touchdown in any season of his collegiate career.
We hear so much about cornerbacks needing to be the proper size to cover NFL wide receivers and Arnette fits that mold. At 6' and nearly 200 pounds, the former Buckeye boasts good range to lineup opposite Trayvon Mullen. When he gets out in space, Arnette also has a good ability to locate the ball and get physical with his opponents.
The one negative receiving the most attention is that he needs to control his emotions better on the field, but on the flip side, Mayock and Jon Gruden showed during their first draft together they're determined to bring in foundational, high-character guys. It's always easy to judge someone from far away, I trust what the Raiders duo have learned about the 22-year-old.
During the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, Mayock mentioned how a lack of press and man coverage at the college level causes wide receivers to struggle at the professional level; however, if a wideout faced Arnette, they're probably used to physical coverage. Whether it's press or man, Arnette loves to force his hands into passing windows and can gain excellent leverage against his opponents.
We've said for weeks now the Silver and Black needed to improve at wide receiver and cornerback, and they did so in a big way. The additions of Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette should excite members of Raider Nation everywhere.
With the 19th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders select cornerback Damon Arnette.