Casey Hayward: Damon Arnette has all the tools to be really good

Casey Hayward: Damon Arnette has all the tools to be really good

Raiders cornerback Damon Arnette had a tough rookie year.

Las Vegas selected him at No. 19 overall in 2020 and he proceeded to go through a series of unfortunate events. He suffered a broken and dislocated thumb. He had a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He also had two concussions.

Arnette ended his rookie year having played nine games with seven starts. He recorded 25 total tackles and a pair of passes defensed.

The Raiders signed veteran corner Casey Hayward in large part because of his experience in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system. Hayward has replaced Arnette in the starting lineup through the early portion of training camp. But Hayward still sees developmental traits in the 2020 first-round pick.

“I think he’s done very well [in camp],” Hayward said, via Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I wasn’t here last year, so I can only tell you what I see now. … He’s one of those guys that’s got all the tools to be really good, and I think he’s been flashing those tools. I hope he continues to do that, because we’re going to need him.”

Given the nature of the cornerback position, Hayward’s right that Las Vegas will likely need Arnette to play at some point in 2021. Arnette told reporters this week that he’s up 20 pounds from his playing weight last year to 195, which could help his durability.

But like several of the Raiders’ recent first-round picks, Arnette will have to show a significant jump in production to make the organization right for using such a high draft pick to select him — particularly when many thought the pick was a reach right after the draft.