The Oakland Raiders have reportedly held a private visit with former Western Michigan slot receiver Daniel Braverman, who could be a golden sleeper.
While the media continues to highlight the Oakland Raiders’ needs on the defensive side of the ball (i.e. cornerback, safety, linebacker), Oakland has made an effort to address their need for receiver depth behind their top two receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. In addition to scheduling meetings with four other receiver prospects entering this year’s draft, the Raiders held a private visit with former Western Michigan receiver Daniel Braverman earlier this month, according to Jared Tokarz of WhosNextFootball.com.
Braverman, a two-year starter at Western Michigan, took the NCAA by storm in 2015, as he accumulated 109 receptions (2nd in the country) for 1,367 yards and 13 touchdowns, via CFBStats.com.
At 5’10, 177 pounds, Braverman lacks the size necessary to excel outside the hashes, but his ability to take over games in the middle of the field as a slot receiver is second to none. Like most productive slot receivers in the NFL, Braverman possesses unmatched quickness and athleticism. With an ability to create separation in small windows, Braverman will often make his defenders look silly on short and intermediate routes, as he comes out of each cut with such great explosion and quickness that safeties and linebackers can’t reciprocate.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Braverman spent 839 of his 873 snaps with the Broncos at slot receiver, where he earned the highest yards per route average (3.27) among this year’s wide receiver class.
Though he won’t ever be the guy catching the goal line fade over three defenders in the back of the end zone, Braverman will threaten NFL defensive coordinators with his ability to embarrass defenders on short, quick routes near the front of the end zone.
With a clear understanding of the importance behind catching the ball with your hands, Braverman has an admirable tendency to pluck the ball out the air with his arms extended rather than allowing the ball to reach his body. With the ball in his possession, Braverman can create in the open field. His field vision paired with his strong cutting ability allows him to break tackles, and as a result, he is a threat to make a big play on any given down.
Braverman had just 11 drops on 198 catchable passes in his final two years at Western Michigan, per PFF.com.
In an effort to take full advantage of his ability in the open field, the Broncos had Braverman field punts over the last two years.
Despite his adept playmaking ability, Braverman is pegged as Day 3 prospect because of his lack of size and top-end speed. Due to his small frame, Braverman will have to adjust to the physicality of the NFL when catching the ball over the middle, and quarterbacks will likely struggle to consistently remain accurate when throwing his way given his small catch radius. Also, without a proven ability to really stretch the field and get behind a defense, Braverman lacks upside in comparison to some of the other vertical threats in this year’s class (i.e. Will Fuller, Kolby Listenbee).
Without ever having the ideal measurables for an NFL wide receiver, Braverman has become accustomed to taking on the underdog role. Coming out of South Florida, Braverman was regularly underestimated by some of the top football talents in the country, but he always found a way to make it work.
Like most guys with a chip on his shoulder, Braverman is a player willing to do whatever it takes to reach his goals. He emphasized his willingness to grind his way to the top in an interview with former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks.
“I played safety throughout my whole life, even a little bit through high school,” Braverman said. “I’m a ball hawk; wherever the ball is I want to be around it. I take pride in being a smart football player. I understand offenses, so whatever I need to do I’ll do it.”
Though they still have a need at the position, Oakland wouldn’t bring in Braverman to play safety, but his blue-collar mentality is what would get him on the field in the slot. With Seth Roberts’ role likely to increase in 2016, Braverman would have to work for a substantial snap count as a rookie, but an open competition between Roberts and Braverman could yield some positive results regardless of who comes out on top.
Also, Oakland has almost no receiver talent behind Crabtree and Cooper, as Roberts, Andre Holmes, and Andre Debose are the only receivers left on the depth chart with Rod Streater going to Kansas City and Jeremy Ross moving on to the New York Jets. With that being said, look for the Raiders to add a young receiving talent at some point in the 2016 NFL draft, and if their apparent interest in him is legitimate, don’t be surprised if Oakland pulls the trigger on him in the fourth or fifth round.