Two recent Raiders first-round draft picks are struggling to find the field early in training camp as Las Vegas’ draft woes continue.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell, the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and cornerback Damon Arnette, the 19th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, are running with the second team, according to Raiders beat reporters at practice.
Clelin Ferrell, the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, has been running with the 2s at Raiders camp… both at DE on run downs (behind Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby) and at 3-technique on passing downs. Raiders have worked on split fields, so it's a clear delineation.
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) July 30, 2021
FS Moehrig SS Abram CB Hayward CB Mullen CB Lawson the first team DB’s to start 11 on 11’s at @Raiders camp
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) July 31, 2021
The Raiders believe they’re in win-now mode and trust playing veterans Ngakoue, Crosby, Mullen, Hayward and Lawson over Ferrell and Arnette, according to a source. Las Vegas is PFF's 21st-ranked team entering the 2021 NFL season and tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles at +10,000 to win the Super Bowl, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
Arnette has dealt with off-field issues this offseason. He’s also struggled to fit Las Vegas’ system, according to another source.
Hayward has experience under new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley from his playing time with the Los Angeles Chargers (2017-20). The 31-year-old veteran cornerback and the rest of the defensive backs are competing in what is a “wide open” secondary, per league source.
The Raiders brought in outside mental health professionals to help interview prospects this year. They’ve struggled to find consistent success in the early rounds of the draft since Jon Gruden was hired as head coach in 2018 and Mike Mayock came aboard as general manager in 2019.
Defensive tackle P.J. Hall, a second-round pick in 2018, was waived after just two seasons. Safety Johnathan Abram, the 27th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was PFF’s lowest-graded starting safety last season. Wide receiver/running back Lynn Bowden, a third-round pick last year, was traded to the Miami Dolphins before the 2020 season began.
Offensive tackle Kolton Miller, a 2018 first-round pick, running back Josh Jacobs, a 2019 first-round pick, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, Mullen and Crosby have been more successful selections. Miller ranks 23rd in PFF's preseason offensive tackle rankings, and Jacobs ranks ninth at his position.
Las Vegas was criticized by draft analysts for reaching on offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Alabama product was PFF's eighth-ranked offensive tackle and 40th-ranked overall player on the final 2021 big board.
The Raiders responded by tweeting, “Regardless of what any ‘draft expert' said, GM Mike Mayock and Coach Gruden saw a starting right tackle in Alex Leatherwood.”
Regardless of what any ‘draft expert' said, GM Mike Mayock and Coach Gruden saw a starting right tackle in Alex Leatherwood.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 30, 2021
The irony that Mayock worked as a “draft expert” for NFL Media before being hired by Raiders was either lost on or ignored by the team’s social media department.