Why the Oakland Raiders Shouldn’t Use #4 On Amari Cooper

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Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Rod Streater (80) celebrates after scoring on a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Wide Receiver is not the Raiders’ most urgent need

One of the reasons everyone projects Cooper to Oakland is that everyone looks at the Raiders and blindly says “they need an offensive weapon for Derek Carr. A true #1 receiver for Carr to throw to.” And that’s not untrue. It’s a big help for a young quarterback to have a top-tier offensive weapon catching his passes. Look what it’s done for Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan.

Really, examine their early careers closely. Matt Stafford has led his team to two winning seasons in six years with Calvin Johnson, and last year, in the second of those two winning seasons, his #1 receiver was actually Golden Tate due to Megatron’s injury issues.

Matt Ryan inherited Roddy White when he got to Atlanta, and then really stepped his game up in his third year there when Tony Gonzales came over. The team completed the set by drafting Julio Jones in 2011 and went on two more playoff runs in 2011 and 2012. But then again, since that 13-3 season in 2012, the team has won ten games, and had to fire their head coach after last year. Julio Jones did miss a lot of games in 2013, and Tony Gonzales was gone last year.

But then again, look at the early career of one Andrew Luck. He did inherit Reggie Wayne, but Wayne isn’t even his number one target anymore – that honor goes to diminutive TY Hilton, who would be a full-time punt returner for most teams. Yet Luck hasn’t failed to reach the playoffs yet as an NFL quarterback. Russell Wilson has been to back-to-back Super Bowls and three consecutive years of playoff appearances without a true elite wide receiver.

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  • Derek Carr last year did something that Ryan, Stafford and Wilson failed to do as rookies: he threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 TD’s. And he did that all without the Raiders’ #1 receiver from the year before in Rod Streater, whom it seems Raider fans and media have forgotten exists. He also did that all with the Raiders attempting a league-low 21 running plays a game for a league-low 77.5 yards per game and scoring a league-low 4 rushing touchdowns on the year, half of them in one game by one player. Carr managed to throw for over 3,000 yards and 21 TD’s despite an offensive system that ran a dozen screen passes per game despite not being able to execute screen passes.

    If there is one player the Raiders need to have on the field to help Derek Carr in the passing game, it’s Rod Streater. Rod Streater was supposed to be his number one last year, his deep threat, his vertical playmaker. Instead, Rod Streater – the same Rod Streater who led the team in catches in 2013 – missed the vast majority of the season, leaving Carr with only the inconsistent Andre Holmes as his big-body deep threat. But passing the ball was not the Raiders problem last season.

    The Raiders identified a potential feature back for the future late last year when Latavius Murray came in to take the starting role. The Raiders hired a coaching staff in the offseason that loves to run the football. If the Raiders are committing to giving Carr the offensive help he needs to succeed, they’re going to do so by fixing the run game first.

    Meanwhile, the Raiders have a lot of question marks on the other side of the ball, on last years’ worst scoring defense. Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith are both in the last year of their deals and both on the wrong side of 30. There’s no clearly identified #1 corner, Charles Woodson is on a one year deal and will be 39 this year, and the strong safety spot is a massive question mark. Nick Roach is also on the back end of his career, if he even returns after a season-ending concussion suffered last preseason. All these holes can be filled just as well in this year’s draft.

    Next: Reason #2: 2015 Draft Has WR Depth in Round 2