Perhaps one of the most questioned positions heading into training camp that is not so questionable anymore. The Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver corps may have no headline name like Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson, but Denarius Moore and Rod Streater are definitely showing the signs that they are ready to breakout this year. It’s obvious that both receivers have put in the extra work to improve upon last year’s numbers. Moore is healthy and doesn’t appear to be hindered by anything. Streater looks as though he bulked up over the off-season, and he is running very crisp routes. Currently, there is no question who the one and two receivers will be, Moore and Streater. Not necessarily in that order.
The unknown is who will occupy the third or slot receiver position. Jacoby Ford is the obvious answer, but he has been hindered in camp by yet another injury. If Ford is unable to battle back from his injury, this leaves the door wide open for Conner Vernon, Sam McGuffie, Greg Jenkins, Brice Butler, or even Josh Cribbs. There are currently twelve receivers on the roster, but these are the five stand outs who would offer something to Special Teams. I like Tray Session, Juron Criner, Andre Holmes, and Isaiah Williams for their height and speed, but I see them being used more to fill in for Moore and Streater during the season. This, of course, all depends on who makes the 53-man roster.
Andre Holmes has been showing the coaches that he wants a roster spot, but he will still have to serve his four game suspension if the Raiders decide to keep him. Criner is coming along and he will continue to be a very good red zone threat. Criner is still developing and he may yet become a prolific receiver. Cribbs is battling back from a knee injury, and there is no doubt that he would offer a lot to the return game and a four receiver set. McGuffie and Vernon are two rookies I would really like to see make the team. They both have been pushing as hard as they can to catch the eye of the coaching staff. McGuffie is fast, really fast, and he would definitely be a good complement to Phillip Adams, Jacoby Ford, and Josh Cribbs on kick and punt returns. Both McGuffie and Vernon could easily be used in the slot as well as Jenkins. Butler would be an excellent addition to the team for depth and as a potential future starter.
Let us not rule out the fact that the improved additions to the defensive back and safety corps is definitely pushing the receivers to step-up and elevate their play. This will help Moore and Streater to become better route runners, because our DB’s can diagnose plays quicker than in the past. With this solid group of defensive backs and safeties, it is going to push the offense to improve and get better. The competition between the receivers and defensive backs will prepare them for the teams they will face in the regular season.
With the exception of third year pro Denarius Moore, fourth year pro Jacoby Ford, and even second year pro Rod Streater, this receiver staff is virtually unknown. However, I think that makes this group dangerous to the rest of the NFL. Somebody from this group is going to have a breakout year and help elevate the Raiders in the AFC West. Who it will be is a tough question to answer. The fact that the roster has to be cut down makes it hard to determine who will stay or go. One thing is certain, the pool of receivers currently on the roster is a good one to pick from.