NFL Draft 2020: Raiders GM Mike Mayock explains why Damon Arnette wasn't reach


Mike Mayock doesn't want to hear that five-letter word when it comes to Raiders first-round draft pick Damon Arnette.

That word being R-E-A-C-H.

The Raiders pulled a bit of a stunner Thursday in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft when they drafted the Ohio State cornerback with the No. 19 overall pick.

Arnette, a tough, physical corner with good press-coverage ability and ball skills, was viewed by most as the sixth- or seventh-best corner in the draft class. The Silver and Black had a huge need at cornerback, and after Clemson's A.J. Terrell, another good press corner, was drafted at No. 16 by the Atlanta Falcons, the Raiders got the guy they wanted.

Mayock previously has said that teams get in trouble when they reach for need, but he doesn't view his newest cornerback as a reach at all.

"The reason he's not a reach is because of his grade in our system," Mayock said on a conference call after the first round. "Did I think we could have moved down and got him? Maybe. But we didn't want to lose him.

"What distinguishes him is, No. 1 he can run. No. 2, he's tough as nails, and when you talk about competitors, he played most of the season with a cast on his arm. He can play outside, he can play inside, he can play left, he can play right. We feel like this is one of the most competitive football players in the entire draft. So, to answer your question, we don't feel, at all, like this is a reach."

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Sure enough, Arnette is a great scheme fit for the Raiders. A physical corner who excels at disrupting routes at the line of scrimmage, he's a good tackler in the running game, and also has short-area quickness and solid hands.

Where the word "reach" comes in is that most expected the Raiders to move down in order to try to acquire a second-round pick. Also, numerous presumed first-round picks in Kristian Fulton, Jeff Gladney, Trevon Diggs and Jaylon Johnson still on the board.

After hitting a home run in the draft last year, Mayock and Gruden have earned the benefit of the doubt.

[RELATED: Raiders grade: Ruggs perfect fit for what Gruden wants to do]

Make no mistake, Arnette is no slouch. He's allowed the lowest passer rating when targeted in single coverage this past season. He can play. The only question is: Did the Raiders maximize the value at No. 19 by selecting him?

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