Re-drafting the entire first round of the 2020 NFL Draft

The Raiders had a terrible draft in 2019 because they failed to select any of the three fifth-year options for the players they selected in the first round. Josh Jacobs did, however, provide them with some quality performance, and even Jonathan Abram has had his share of moments with the team.

The first round of the 2020 draft was much worse for the Raiders because both Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette were cut in the middle of the 2021 season. Arnette had a number of incidents with the team both on and off the field, and Ruggs was charged with DUI causing death.

Therefore, with their first of two first-round picks in 2020, who ought the Raiders to have chosen?

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus just redrafted the whole first round of that draft in an essay. He selected USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for the Raiders over Ruggs at No. 12 overall. What he had to say about the choice is as follows:

Pittman improved significantly in his second season after graduating from USC last year for the Colts, improving his PFF grade from 62.8 as a rookie to 79.9 in 2021. He has excellent route running skills, especially considering his size, and just had a season in which he caught 64.3% of his contested targets (second among wide receivers with at least 25 contested targets). Pittman has a case for being the top receiver still available in a talented class, even if he isn’t the vertical threat that Las Vegas was looking for with the Ruggs decision.

The Raiders had their pick of any receiver in the class when they went on the clock at No. 12. But in this re-draft, Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson, and CeeDee Lamb were all selected in the top ten. Pittman, a receiver they received from Linsey, is still quite effective.

During the 2021 season, Pittman caught 88 catches for a total of 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. Given that the Colts will now be led by Matt Ryan, one of the league’s most physical receivers, he might have a breakthrough season in 2022.

Linsey gave them LSU’s Kristian Fulton with their other first-round pick. Many people believed Trevon Diggs or Fulton would be alternatives at No. 19 since the Raiders desperately needed secondary assistance. Instead, they chose Arnette, who many thought would be a Day 3 mid-player.

Drafting is always simple in retrospect, but these two selections seemed like big risks at the time. Both failed to produce with the Raiders for very different reasons.