Raiders select WR Michael Pittman Jr. over Henry Ruggs in 2020 NFL redraft

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The 2019 draft was a bad one for the Raiders as they did not pick up any of the three fifth-year options for their first-round picks. However, they did get solid play out of Josh Jacobs and even Johnathan Abram has had his moments with the team.

The 2020 draft was far worse for the Raiders in Round 1 as both Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette were released midseason in 2021. Ruggs was charged with DUI resulting in death and Arnette had several incidents with the team on and off the field.

So who should the Raiders have selected with their first of two first-round picks in 2020?

In a recent article by Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, he re-drafted the entire first round from that draft. For the Raiders at No. 12, he gave them USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. over Ruggs. Here is what he had to say about that selection:

“Pittman took a clear step forward in his second season out of USC last year for the Colts despite inconsistent play at the quarterback position, raising his PFF grade from 62.8 as a rookie to 79.9 in 2021.

He’s an impressive route runner — particularly for his size — and is coming off a season where he caught 64.3% of his contested targets (second among wide receivers with at least 25 contested targets).

Pittman might not be the vertical threat that Las Vegas was searching for with the Ruggs’ selection, but he has a case as the best receiver left on the board in a talented class.”

When the Raiders were on the clock at No. 12, they had their choice of any receiver in the class. But in this re-draft, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Tee Higgins were all drafted inside the top-10. Still, Linsey gave them a highly productive receiver in Pittman.

Pittman caught 88 passes during the 2021 season, totaling 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. He’s known as being one of the most physical receivers in the league and he could have a breakout season in 2022 with Matt Ryan now under center for the Colts.

With their other first-round pick, Linsey gave them Kristian Fulton from LSU. The Raiders really needed secondary help and many thought Fulton (or Trevon Diggs) would be options at No. 19. Instead, they reached on Arnette, who many viewed as a mid-Day 3 player.

Drafting is always easy in hindsight, but these were two picks that felt like major reaches at the time. And for very different reasons, neither ended up working out for the Raiders.

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