Ben Margot / Associated Press
The Las Vegas Raiders were not fortunate enough to host the 2020 NFL draft, but the organization still found a way to capture the event on its second day.
Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have a vision of what the team should look like and how it can compete in AFC West, where defending Super Bowl champions have set the standard for attacking football.
“We don’t want to have a good reception body, I want to have the best reception body in football, and I think to have the best, you have to have the best, and in my opinion, we added the best receiver broad in football, “Gruden told reporters last year at Antonio Brown’s introductory press conference.
Unfortunately, Brown’s acquisition exploded in the organization’s proverbial face, but the feeling remains the same today as when the coach originally made the statement.
Without Brown, tight end Darren Waller led the Raiders with 90 receptions and 1,145 receiving yards. Tyrell Williams, who the franchise signed with a $ 44.3 million free agent contract four years before the 2019 campaign, finished second on the team with 651 yards on receipt. Fifth-round rookie pick Hunter Renfrow emerged with 49 receptions.
But the Las Vegas host did not scare any opponent, particularly in a division that already includes Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Courtland Sutton.
The Raiders’ approach to this year’s draft became clear in the first round on Thursday when the organization selected Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III with 12th overall.
“The distinguishing factor was really [Ruggs’] speed, explosion and work ethic, “Mayock told reporters during a post-project conference call. “When you are in the division, we are in and you are looking at Kansas City and you are looking at what they have on attack and what their explosion looks like, we had to go faster and we think adding it opens up our whole attack. ”
Ruggs was not enough, however, and the Raiders knew it. As such, Mayock continued to fervently attack the franchise’s greatest need.
Las Vegas spent its initial Day 2 selections on more offensive upgrades.
Lynn Bowden Jr., the team’s pick with the 80th overall pick, is the project’s most unique attacking perspective. The 2019 Paul Hornung award winner, as the most notable all-rounder in college football, has led the Kentucky Wildcats to receive yards in each of the past two seasons. He also started eight games with the quarterback in his last season on campus and led the team with 1,468 yards on the ground.
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Raiders’ third round pick is dangerous
Kentucky WR Lynn Bowden Jr. is going to be a threat in many ways ? https://t.co/h0zVaDiPGk
In fact, the Raiders have designated the multi-purpose threat as a step backwards on his announcement project. Mayock confirmed with journalists During their post-day 2 teleconference, the team will start the first participant to back up, but will use it in various ways.
Bowden is an offensive weapon and one of the special teams that stands out as a turner. He’s a back end developer, a slot machine receiver and a quarterback if Gruden wants to implement a few extra packages in his attacking scheme.
“Taysom Hill, he’s the one they always compare me to”, Bowden told reporters after being written. ” I’m happy. I feel like I’m going to wake up the world. It’s just a matter of time. “
A pick later, the Raiders chose South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards. The 6’3 “212 pound lens brings a completely different skill set than Bowden’s. Edwards is a physical outdoor runner who constantly wins 50/50 balls and creates after the catch. The 21-year-old has grabbed 126 assists for 1,662 yards and 13 touchdowns in the past two seasons, which would have been even better, but he missed the last two games in the 2019 campaign with a knee injury.
Yet Edwards ended his career as an all-time leader in South Carolina in receptions (234) and receiving yards (3,045).
Injuries, however, damaged his draft stock. Edwards broke his foot in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine and was unable to participate in training, which is why he remained available in the third round instead of going higher. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, doctors expect to clear the wide receptor by next month.
Sean Rayford / Associated Press
After a year in which 10 wide Raiders receivers have combined for 1,858 receiving yards, the team’s offense should be much more dynamic with its recent additions.
Williams and Edwards will be the outside targets with Renfrow, Bowden and freelance signatory Nelson Agholor working in the middle of the field. Ruggs is a vertical threat, whether he works outside the numbers or at the bottom of the seam.
There are no more excuses for striker or quarterback Derek Carr. All the pieces are in place, even if it is a young group, to create pieces in pieces on a consistent basis.
If the six-year-old veteran doesn’t get the job done at a high level despite improved distribution, Mayock invested in a major backup option when the organization agreed to a two-year, $ 17.6 million deal with Marcus Mariota .
Now the Raiders will not be automatically disadvantaged every time they enter the field with a divisional rival. It was the only logical way for the team to radically improve in their first year in Las Vegas.
“We wanted to get more dynamic on offense,” said Mayock, according to The Athletic’s. Vic Tafur.
Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press
The Kansas City Chiefs are doing everything in their power to aggravate an already almost unstoppable offense. Kansas City used the 32nd pick in total to locate the first ball carrier in the class. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an ideal schematic fit for Andy Reid’s attack as Brian Westbrook’s next comer.
Like the Raiders, the Denver Broncos are trying to build a better cockpit for their quarterback, Drew Lock. General manager John Elway doubled the wide receiver position with the selections of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Additionally, the team added a new center to LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry III to complement their attacking front.
The Los Angeles Chargers have landed their franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert, and their opponents will likely face the best secondary in the league. To do this, receivers must be able to create offsets and separations. Otherwise, it is a lost cause.
Today’s NFL is a pass-through league. How an offense creates opportunities in the air often defines success. Or, the team must be able to slow down opponent’s passing matches.
The Raiders have taken steps to do both with three new offensive weapons and a pair of defensive backs in Damon Arnette and Tanner Muse.
The Las Vegas brain confidence knew exactly where the team needed to improve, and after the first two days of the NFL draft, the Raiders are. In doing so, they have equaled their bitter rivals in the growing AFC West arms race.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brentsobleski.