The Raiders have taken us on some pretty remarkable highs and lows over the last couple of seasons, to say the least.
After trading away star pass-rusher Khalil Mack just eight months into his second stint as the team’s head coach, Jon Gruden led the team to a 4-12 finish in 2018 before spending his side’s three 2019 first-round picks on Clemson edge defender Clelin Ferrell, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram, even though none of the three players received first-round grades from PFF. Then, they emerged as a potential surprise playoff squad in the first half of 2019 before losing five of their next six games to finish at 7-9, outside of postseason contention.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has been widely blamed for the team’s playoff absence, but few acknowledge the fact that the Raiders have fielded an incredibly weak secondary and a subpar wide receiver unit, which are the two most valuable areas on the field after the quarterback. In fact, when you remove quarterbacks from the equation, the Raiders’ roster sat 29th of the 32 NFL teams in PFF WAR generated last year, which just goes to show what Carr has had to work with over recent years.
Their wide receiver unit finished the 2019 season ranked 31st of the 32 teams in PFF receiving grade. Outside of Hunter Renfrow, who was the 23rd-highest-graded wideout last year, there was not a single Oakland wide receiver who produced at least an average grade.
The secondary hasn’t helped matters any, either, as the Raiders’ coverage unit ranked dead last in expected points added (EPA) per pass play in both 2018 and 2019 and managed a two-year coverage grade of 48.7 over the entirety of that span, 31st among the 32 NFL defenses.
This leads us to the 2020 NFL Draft. Thanks in large part to the aforementioned Khalil Mack trade, the Las Vegas Raiders own two first-round picks, at 12th and 19th overall. And while they don’t have a second-rounder, they do have three third-round picks to play with.
Las Vegas now has the opportunity to win the NFL Draft by devoting its resources to the position groups that actually need to be upgraded. This is how they can win the draft and build a competitive team around quarterback Derek Carr.
ROUND 1, PICK 12: SELECT THE BEST WIDE RECEIVER ON THE BOARD
At this point, it’s widely expected that three quarterbacks, three (maybe four) offensive tackles, Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Isaiah Simmons will all be taken by the time the Raiders are put on the clock, which will leave at least one of those three elite receivers on the board.
Of the three prospects, Jeudy is probably the least likely to fall to Vegas. The Alabama pass-catcher is the second-best receiving prospect PFF has ever seen, and no SEC receiver has performed better over a two-year sample than Jeudy:
Best PFF receiving grade by an SEC WR in a two-year span (since 2014)
|Player, school and seasons||Two-year PFF receiving grade|
|Jerry Jeudy (Alabama, 2018-19)||91.0|
|Jaylen Waddle (Alabama, 2018-19)||90.7|
|Ja’Marr Chase (LSU, 2018-19)||90.3|
|Justin Jefferson (LSU, 2018-19)||88.7|
|Jauan Jennings (Tennessee, 2018-19||87.9|
|Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt, 2017-18)||87.8|
|Drew Morgan (Arkansas, 2015-16)||87.4|
|A.J. Brown (Ole Miss, 2017-18)||86.7|
|Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss, 2014-15)||86.3|