We just touched on Jared Cook, but he was going to be an impactful tight end no matter where he signed. Clive Walford had a sweet reception from EJ Manuel in the first preseason game. He too could benefit greatly from having Todd Downing as his new offensive coordinator.
However, no receiving option seems to have benefited more from Downing’s promotion to offensive coordinator than Lee Smith. Smith had two great catches from Derek Carr in the second preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams last week, including an impressive touchdown. Hopefully that is a sign of more good things to come from him as a receiver.
See, Smith took a pay cut to stay with the Raiders in the final year of his contract. He had his reasons for this, but the idea of him being more of a receiving threat in Downing’s offense had to be a big part of that logic. Smith has spent most of his NFL career out of Marshall as a blocking tight end.
Should he be able to corral a few key receptions on third down and in the red zone, this could translate to a big pay day for him in 2018 NFL free agency. We could be looking at a career year for Smith in the NFL as a receiver. It wouldn’t be a huge spike in receptions, but his perceived versatility in the Raiders passing game only makes him more valuable on the impending free agency market.