Las Vegas Raiders: Grade and analysis of the Damon Arnette pick

Las Vegas Raiders, Damon Arnette (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders, Damon Arnette (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders selected Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette with their second pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. We gi e our initial analysis and grade of the selection.

The Las Vegas Raiders followed up a slam dunk of a draft pick by selecting Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs 12th overall, with a much more curious pick at No. 19. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock seemingly reached to add Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette in the back half of the first round.

This is a fascinating pick. With the team’s void at wide receiver filled, the franchise had a desperate need for talent in the secondary. Top options Jeff Okudah, C.J. Henderson, and A.J. Terrell were also unfortunately off the board.

This left the team in the awkward position of reaching to fill their biggest need or drafting a higher rated prospect at a less desperate position. I love the fact that the team drafted a cornerback. But, like many, I do have concerns about this individual player.

Here are my full grades for the pick.

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The Need: A

It’s difficult to overstate just how much Las Vegas needed help in the secondary. The franchise had done an exceptional job of filling holes at receiver, linebacker, and defensive line through free agency and the Ruggs selection.

However, they had done very little to address a sub-par pass defense. The Raiders entered the night with Trayvon Mullen, Lamarcus Joyner, Johnathan Abram, and Damarious Randall slated at starters.

While each of these players is a legitimate NFL talent, none of them excite fans. In fact, most casual fans are likely unfamiliar with any of these names. Mullen and Abram obviously have the most upside, but they’re still early in their careers.

The team gets an easy ‘A’ for addressing their biggest weakness.

The Talent: B

This is where the selection gets interesting.

The Raiders selected Damon Arnette with the 19th overall pick. ESPN ranked him as the 7th best cornerback and 58th best overall player in the draft. The Draft Network also had him at a meager three-star rating. Common sense dictates that the team reached.

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Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an awful pick. After the top three cornerbacks were taken off the board, it is likely the Raiders weren’t the only team that turned their attention to Arnette. He is at his best in press-man coverage, a defense that the Raiders like to run a lot.

He also found success against elite talent while playing at Ohio State. In fact, one prominent draft analyst went as far as comparing Arnette to former Pro-Bowler Darius Slay.

However, Arnette is in the tier of players who also come with legitimate concerns. His coverage skills are good, but his tackling ability to a major issue. His average speed and athleticism may also affect his ability to stay in front of the league top pass catchers.

This pick was a bit of a gamble.

The Value: C-

This section is the lowest graded. The team drafted a major position of need and landed a player with considerable upside but notable concerts. However, knowing what we know now, the Raiders certainly didn’t find value in their selection.

One can’t help but wonder how far the team could have traded back and still landed Damon Arnette. I’m willing to bet he would have still been available at the end of the first round. There is even a chance the team could have landed him by trading into the early second round.

Additionally, there seem to be several different cornerbacks that fall into the same tier as Arnette. The Raiders clearly valued the former Buckeye enough to grab him early, but there would have been fail-safe options in the event of a trade back.

The Overall Grade: B-

I go back and forth between a B- and a C+ for the final grade. At the end of the day, the fact that the team addressed their biggest need with a solid prospect is enough, in my mind, to make up for the reach.

This will be a pick that will leave Raider Nation scratching their heads for the next several days. However, it’s important to remember that both Gruden and Mayock both once made a living evaluating how college talent would translate to the NFL level.

Las Vegas Raiders: Grade and analysis of the Henry Ruggs pick. dark. Next

I am not naive enough to pretend this pick was a good value. However, I am willing to give the front office the benefit of the doubt and hope that Damon Arnette can become a legitimate shutdown corner in silver and black.