The Las Vegas Raiders’ recent history of first-round picks has been nothing short of depressing.
What are the odds of the Las Vegas Raiders having six consecutive first-round picks fail to reach a second contract?
Pretty low. Yet, somehow, if you placed a large wager on more than three consecutive first-round failures, you would cash out. It’s true. The Silver and Black’s last six selections in Round 1 have either had their fifth-year option declined or are no longer with the team.
If we extend to Round 2, we can add Trayvon Mullen to the list of recent draft picks that failed as Mullen has left Sin City and headed for the desert in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals. Again, it’s not six straight second-round picks; it’s six consecutive first-round picks. These are supposed to be core building blocks for a championship team. The Raiders didn’t get that memo.
In 2019, the Raiders had three first-round picks courtesy of trades with Chicago and Dallas. All three, Jonathan Abraham, Clellin Ferrell, and Josh Jacobs, had had their fifth-year options declined. In 2020, the Raiders selected Damon Arnette and Henry Ruggs. The former is out of the league for poor play, and a video shows him brandishing firearms and making death threats. The latter is wearing a jumpsuit in prison for speeding and murder.
Now we get to 2021 and offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood. Leatherwood had a strong résumé of success at Alabama yet has struggled mightily in the league. On Tuesday as rosters were cut down to 53 players, he was released, completing the six-figure saga of Raiders’ first-round perpetuity.
Raiders’ last six first-round picks have been major disappointments
Maybe it’s good that the Raiders didn’t pick in Round 1 this year. That went to Green Bay as part of a trade for Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams.
Still, though, this type of consistent draft blundering is rare. NFL Historians like ESPN’s Chris Russo will recall between 1984-1987; the Arizona Cardinals had four straight years of first-round failure, including linebacker Anthony Bell and wide receiver Clyde Duncan.
There’s also the Matt Millen era in Detroit, where there was a string of consecutive first-round picks that failed for the Lions and the Motor City. But it wasn’t six straight.
You would think the Raiders had to hit on at least one, right? With Jacobs, it’s worth a debate, but still not enough to justify. Maybe if he were a second or third-round pick, then it wouldn’t receive as much scrutiny.
Nonetheless, the facts are what they are; the results speak for themselves. Six consecutive first-round picks, six disappointments. It dulls the silver and darkens the black in silver and black, a black mark for the Raiders organization.