3 Players the Raiders Need to Avoid With Their First-Round Picks
It's a new beginning for this Raiders franchise, as they make their move to Las Vegas. Their hope is to leave the franchise's recent mediocrity in Oakland and build something special in their new home. Obviously, the best way to do that will be to win games this season.
While the Raiders barely missed out on the playoffs last season, they are still a team with numerous holes that need to be filled. With two first-round draft picks, they can upgrade their team quickly, but they'll need to hit on those selections.
With that in mind, here are three players the Raiders need to avoid with their first-round picks.
1. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
While C.J. Henderson is projected as the second-best cornerback in the draft by many, he brings a level of risk that the Raiders should not entertain. Grading out as the league's third-worst pass defense per Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA metrics in 2019, Henderson would likely have to start for the team early on. Given some of the inconsistency he showed at Florida last season, he may not be ready to contribute right away.
2. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Raiders have been known to value speed in the draft more than any other trait, which is why Henry Ruggs' NFL Combine-best 4.27 second 40-yard dash time may be attractive to them. However, he lacks the polish needed to utilize that speed well right now. Tyrell Williams also does his best work as a deep threat, and he and Ruggs could be a bit redundant playing alongside one another.
3. AJ Epenesa, DE, Iowa
AJ Epenesa is a talented defensive end. At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, he is a big guy that defends the run well and can become a reliable pass rusher. While he is more likely to go after the Raiders' two picks, we know they are not shy about reaching and taking the player they like. His inclusion on this list is not a knock on him. The Raiders already have two developing young edge rushers in Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, and they'd be better off addressing other needs.
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