Mike Mayock is heavily invested in Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette.
If the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders’ first-round picks don’t develop, it will reflect extremely poorly on Mayock, the team’s general manager, and it could very well help cost him his job. With that reality looming, his strong vote of confidence for both Ruggs (a wide receiver taken at No. 12) and Arnette (a cornerback, taken at No. 19) has to be expected.
Mayock needs them to get better. Still, he did make a passionate push for both players in his pre-draft presser on Thursday.
“I’m excited about both of them. I don’t think there is any question in our building how talented they both are,” Mayock said. “Henry has got to get stronger. Damon has got to get stronger. They’re both spending an awful lot of time this offseason, both with the strength and also the conditioning aspects. In my mind we are going to see different guys, and I made a comment a couple months ago about Ruggs III and about that whole class last year needing to step it up this year and I still believe that. And from Ruggs III’s perspective, the sky is the limit for this kid. We knew exactly what he was and that’s who he is. We had no surprises last year on Ruggs III. Now, he needs to take it to level two now, the next level up. Stronger, better route runner, finish, get both feet down, all those things and we think he will.
“Same thing with Arnette. Up and down year, injured, COVID-19, all kinds of different issues. We need consistency and effort and I’m a big believer in both those kids. I’m really excited to see them play this year.”
Both players struggled as rookies. Ruggs had just 26 catches in 13 games and looked lost at times. Arnette missed seven games for various reasons and also occasionally struggled when he was on the field.
That, however, doesn’t mean the two can’t become impact players in 2021. If they do, all will be fine. If they don’t, Mayock may live to regret the selections.