Oakland Raiders: Slot receiver is a big necessity in 2019
Among the needs to be addressed in the offseason should be the signing of a slot receiver, which should pay dividends for the Oakland Raiders.
It’s become a staple of any successful offense in today’s NFL and more often than not an elite offense has one: a slot receiver. Not just any receiver that can be placed there at the snap, but a legitimate player that can be a threat especially on third downs, when the offense needs to move the chains.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman torched the Los Angeles Rams for 141 yards receiving as New England hoisted their sixth title. But where does Edelman do the most of his damage? You guessed it: in the slot position.
Make no mistake, the Oakland Raiders are far away from their offense being considered “elite,” but they have the resources with free agency and the draft around the corner to acquire pieces for a solid foundation. Among the holes that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock must work to fill, the receiver position is among the most glaring.
In recent memory, the Raiders have had two players that have had a hold on the slot receiver position: Rod Streater and Seth Roberts. Streater looked promising early in his career with the Silver and Black, acting as their go-to threat in the slot.
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In 2013, his second season, Streater had a career year with 888 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Were it not for injuries, who knows how much Rod Streater could have left in the tank before being released by Oakland after the 2015 season.
Much more recently, Seth Roberts has had his highs with the Raiders, but consistency seems to hold him back from being truly effective in the slot. 2018 was his best statistical season, but week-by-week was a roller coaster of contributions, in large part of an underwhelming receiver group. Roberts will still be on the roster in 2019 after signing a two-year contract extension.
So how could the Raiders move forward with this need? They could look towards free agency, where the services of Cole Beasley could be paid for. Beasley seems likely to move on from the Cowboys after a seven-year career in Dallas. Beasley is one of the most consistent receivers in the slot and at just 29 years could still have some good years left.
Or Oakland could just confirm all the recent speculation and go for Brown. No, not Antonio Brown, his cousin Marquise Brown, WR out of Oklahoma. Though he’s just 5’10 and would need to withstand big hits from larger defensive backs, Brown has speed and importantly: a knack for yards after the catch. That would be a welcome sight for Derek Carr in year two of Gruden’s system.
Brown is considered by some analysts to be the draft’s top receiver prospect, and there’s a chance he could go in the first round. Do Gruden and Mayock believe Brown’s talent warrants the expense of one of their three picks in the first round?
The slot receiver is slowly becoming a vital piece to an efficient offense. Raiders fans should be tired of being on the receiving end of dynamic receivers in the slot (still recall Nick Nelson getting torched by Tyreek Hill in the season finale). Whether it be a veteran with prime years left or a young prospect through the draft, getting a consistent slot receiver will be a step in the right direction.