The Las Vegas Raiders’ rookie class once again excelled in the team’s Week 2 victory.
For the second straight week, the Las Vegas Raiders came away with a victory, and a victory where the offense put up over 30 points.
The Raiders only put up 30 points twice in each of the past two seasons, so the offense is clearly clicking on a level that is hasn’t before under Jon Gruden.
This is despite the Raiders being a young team that has first and second-year players playing big roles on both sides of the ball.
Of course, the focus here is the rookies, and all but two from the 2020 NFL Draft class saw significant playing time this week, so let’s go over their respective performances.
Raiders’ Rookies: Stock up
Henry Ruggs came away with a single reception for only four yards, but still deserves a spot on this list for reasons other than production.
In the Raiders’ second offensive series during the first quarter, Ruggs went deep downfield and had a step on the cornerback covering him. Carr launched it to him but it was overthrown. Had he got it there accurately, the play likely would have gone for six.
Towards the end of the game with a little over two minutes to go, the Raiders were up seven with a chance to score and put the game out of reach. Ruggs again went deep and Carr once again targeted him. The pass went incomplete but Ruggs drew a pass interference call.
The Raiders would go on to get into field goal range which Daniel Carlson nailed from 54 yards out, pretty much sealing the deal.
Through two weeks, it’s obvious that Ruggs is opening up the offense. There would be full games during 2019 where not a single deep shot was even attempted.
Expect more deep shots throughout the season and expect a lot more pass interference penalties called on opposing defenses due to the speed of Ruggs which scares defensive backs into being over-aggressive.
Last week, cornerback Damon Arnette was on the stock down list. His performance against New Orleans has him trending upward.
Last week I noted how he missed a few tackles but that he was known for being exceptional in run-support in college and so that could have been an anomaly. It seems that may be true.
Arnette recorded three tackles on the Saints’ second offensive possession alone — one of which he took a great angle to the pylon allowing him to push Alvin Kamara out of bounds at the one-yard line and save the touchdown.
Later in the third quarter, Arnette was illegally blocked on a screen, and on the next play, the Saints ran another screen which Arnette sniffed out and got the open-field tackle on.
This made it 3rd-and-22. The Saints completed a quick pass and Arnette was able to disengage from his blocker and make his second straight open-field tackle.
Arnette did have some bad moments. He gave up a catch on the Saints’ first drive despite being called for a hold which was declined. He was thought to have been pulled in the second quarter though apparently he banged up his finger on one of his tackles.
He returned to start on the outside in the second half and played well finishing with seven tackles (all solo) while playing 82 percent of defensive snaps which is actually more than last week where he was on the field for 72 percent.
It is good to see a young player not get in his own head after a not-so-good performance and instead come back with confidence and play well.
Bryan Edwards had neutral stock last week after catching only one pass for nine yards despite starting. This week he hauled in two passes for 42 yards.
His first reception went for 22 yards on an inside post.
His second reception was the perfect example of the skill set he possesses and what he was drafted for. It was a contested catch that he used his size and length to haul in over the defender.
Edwards also drew a pass interference call in the opening drive of the second half which was on third down. Edwards should only perform better the more he gets used to NFL defenses and a full grasp on the offensive system.
Last week, offensive guard John Simpson was inactive. This week he logged in 86 percent of the snaps after Richie Incognito was hurt in the second quarter.
He started off kind of shaky on his first drive of NFL action. He whiffed on a block at the second level when pulling to the outside. The very next play he was beaten off the snap and almost fell back into quarterback Derek Carr.
After that, he was solid for the remainder of the game. On the 4th-and-1 play at the end of the third quarter, Simpson drove his man towards the center knocking him off balance and causing him to start falling, which gave Josh Jacobs space to dive over the top and convert.
Richie Incognito’s injury may not be serious so Simpson will likely be relegated back to the bench, but it is good to know that there may be a solid young guard waiting in the wings in case of injury.
Raiders’ Rookies: Stock neutral
Linebacker Tanner Muse is still on injured reserve, and cornerback Amik Robertson was inactive this week after logging in zero snaps in Week 1. Nothing more to say here.
Raiders’ Rookies: Stock down
None. Hopefully it will become an ongoing trend for these articles to be top-heavy.