Playing The Slots: Who Will Be The Raiders’ No. 3 in 2017?

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts (10) runs with the ball before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts (10) runs with the ball before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Seth Roberts has been a rollercoaster as the No. 3 WR of the Oakland Raiders. Will he continue in that role in 2017?

In the realm of slot receivers, Oakland Raiders wideout Seth Roberts is cheese pizza. Cheese pizza is rarely, if ever, anybody’s first choice, nor is it their second, nor should it be. Cheese pizza isn’t really an option at all, as much as it is the settling of a disagreement; it is the opting-out of having to cater to the individual needs of a relatively large group of people. Nobody wants cheese pizza, but if it’s free, and if the other options aren’t particularly appealing, they will accept cheese pizza.

As the third receiver behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Roberts fulfills his role to a satisfactory level. He is serviceable and mostly reliable, and not bad by any means. He is even occasionally remarkable, and has shown up in several big moments over the course of his two years with the Raiders — in that time, the team is infamously unbeaten when Roberts catches a touchdown pass.

His biggest value to the offense may come in the run game, where he is a willing and effective blocker. Overall, though, he is a hard, diligent worker, and his passion for the game is evident each and every time he laces them up for the Raiders.

Of course, Roberts is not without fault, and it just so happens that his most glaring fault is the one aspect of playing wide receiver that might be most important — catching the damn ball.

At best, Seth did that intermittently during the 2016 season; though, in his defense, so did the other receivers on the Raiders’ roster, who notably led the league in drops as a unit. But it’s admittedly much easier to forgive your co-number-one receivers  for drop, when they’ve displayed the ability to single-handedly take over games than it is your occasionally-clutch slot guy who seemingly routinely drops crucial 3rd-and-4’s.

As the Raiders offense presumably looks to open things up a bit more heading into the 2017 season, it’s only natural that they entertain the idea of bringing in a guy to push Roberts, maybe as far as down the depth chart a few spots.

Of course, they signed Cordarrelle Patterson during the second wave of free agency, but barring some sort of personal renaissance, he’ll primarily be a special teamer, while assuming the departed Andre Holmes’ role as the 4th WR.

And you may remember some guy on this site posturing about the idea of a Terrelle Pryor reunion as free agency opened back in March, a few weeks before he inexplicably signed with Washington. Alas, what could’ve been.

Most of the top free agent options at slot have since signed, which means if the Raiders are going to address the position, they’ll have to do it in the draft. There are several intriguing prospects in this year’s class, so despite the roster’s plethora of defensive needs, this isn’t a bad thing at all. Here are a few names I’ll be keeping an eye on in the last weekend of April:

  • John Ross, Washington: You saw his record-breaking 40 at the combine, meaning he’ll likely be off of the board by the time the Raiders pick in the 1st. That aside, the kid can play, and would be an absolutely devastating addition to Carr’s arsenal. Lettuce pray.

  • Curtis Samuel, Ohio State: Another gamebreaker that most likely won’t be there past the second round. His name begins with a C, which makes him a good fit to join Carr, Cooper, Crab, Clive and Cook (Jared, not Connor).
  • Ryan Switzer, North Carolina: The last time Baby Reggie publicly lobbied for a player before the draft, Big Reggie took him 14th overall. I’m just saying.
  • Travin Dural, LSU: A late-round option. I blame Les Miles’ 1937 playbook for preventing him from making more highlight-reel plays than he did, but the ones he did make are pretty damn impressive. Geaux Tigers.

Of course, if they don’t look to the draft, there’s nothing to fret. There’s an absolutely beautiful camp battle brewing between Roberts, K.J. Brent, Jaydon Mickens and Johnny Holton that I’m anticipating will be quite fun to watch this summer. All three had impressive moments during the preseason last year, and I’m excited to see who has gotten better since then.

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Don’t be surprised if Brent, Mickens or Holton shows out enough to usurp Roberts from his incumbent position — things are looking up in Oakland, and it’s time to sprinkle a few more toppings on the pie.