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The development of the 2021 draft is key to a successful season

Growth is vital for the 2nd-year class

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Las Vegas Raiders draft picks during the Jon Gruden era were a mixed bag. Trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears was supposed to set the organization's future up for success.

The drafting of Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 in 2019 will always be remembered as the biggest blunder. Ferrell is now fighting for a roster spot with Kyler Fackrell and Malcolm Koonce. However, Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, and even Josh Jacobs were productive for the Raiders.

Kolton Miller is the only addition from 2018 worth mentioning, and the 2020 draft class was a complete disaster. Not one player from the first three rounds is on the Raiders roster after two seasons. That draft can set a franchise back especially missing on premium first-round selections.

Then, the 2021 draft started with controversy with the selection of Alex Leatherwood to play right tackle. It was another player that the media felt was a reach, with many having an adverse reaction. The Raiders didn’t disappoint in the rounds after with the selections of Trev’on Moehrig, Divine Deablo, and Nate Hobbs. All these players finished 2021, becoming contributors at the end of the season.

Moehrig was the expected star of the group and didn’t disappoint. He was all over the field, displaying his range as a center fielder and chess piece in the defense.

Where he suffered was his dropped interceptions. According to PFF, he was tied for the lead league with three. He had one pick as a rookie.

The former safety out of Virginia Tech was left with the tall task of switching positions. Deablo achieved what previous draft pick, Tanner muse could not be developing into a linebacker in year one. The run defense improved tremendously when he entered the lineup for Cory Littleton. Deablo has the chance to emerge as a starting linebacker for years.

Hobbs was a steal of the draft. He was steady as a slot corner for Gus Bradley from the Lovie Smith at Illinois. The athletic freak has become one of the best rookie cornerbacks in football and has a chance to grow into a moving chess piece for Patrick Graham.

With first-round pick being such a premium in the draft, the class does hang on Leatherwood. Carmen Bricillo wants to give him a shot at right tackle, where he struggled mightily in 2021 as a rookie. If he can leap, the offensive line can become at least above average and give Derek Carr enough time to find receivers.

The Raiders are a team full of young starters from all the recent drafts. 2021 can help them become consistent contenders for years to come if they can reach their potential.