Las Vegas Raiders: Way-too-early 2021 NFL mock draft

Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Justyn Ross, 2021 NFL Draft
Justyn Ross, 2021 NFL Draft prospect (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. Wide Receiver. Justyn Ross. Scouting Report. Clemson. 72. player. 28

Justyn Ross‘ NFL and football future are both up in the air following a serious neck and spinal surgery performed this summer. Ross, Clemson’s top returning receiver looked to be one of the favorites to be the first receiver selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. While his football future will depend on his health, the star receiver is determined to return to the football field and will have to make a decision between returning to Clemson or declaring for the draft.

Following the 2020 NFL Draft, Ross was projected to be a mid-first round receiver prospect but a year away from the game will impact his draft stock. While another successful year at Clemson could help Ross improve his draft status, Ross may decide to not risk another year without a salary and instead opt for the 2021 NFL Draft as his health would continue to the biggest concern to a future NFL team in 2021 or 2022.

Tight end Darren Waller led the Raiders in receptions and yards in 2019 where no receiver accounted for even 700 receiving yards. The Las Vegas Raiders added Henry Ruggs III in the first round of the 2020 draft and took receivers Lynn Bowden Jr. and Bryan Edwards with back-to-back picks in the third round. While the Raiders focused on adding playmakers last spring, Bowden Jr. projects as more of a utility back and Ruggs III is not a typical number one receiver.

If the Las Vegas Raiders do select a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they will prioritize putting playmakers and a line around for him to succeed. The Raiders pass protection ranked sixth in 2019 in sacks allowed, so getting a dynamic receiver for Lance should be a priority. Gruden and Mayock have demonstrated an affinity for Clemson players, selecting five Tigers over the last two drafts.

Next. Raiders' 2020 NFL Draft Grades. dark

So many variables go into projecting Justyn Ross’s 2021 draft status, but if the Clemson receiver is eligible, selecting Ross could be the biggest steal in the draft. The 6-foot-4 receiver has the size, hands and playmaking ability making him a perfect complementary receiver opposite Ruggs III. This young offense could turn the Las Vegas Raiders into a legitimate threat in the AFC West.