Las Vegas Raiders: 5 position battles to watch after the 2020 NFL Draft
By Matt Holder
With how the Raiders’ roster is put together, Hunter Renfrow is the only wide receiver with a clear and defined role. Renfrow excelled in the slot last season and there is no reason to believe he’s in jeopardy of losing his spot moving forward. However, there is plenty of ambiguity on the outside.
Last season, Tyrell Williams was thrust into the team’s number one receiver role after you know who’s outlandish antics. Williams started off the season on fire and looked like he could be a permanent solution as the primary option, however, a foot injury and a dip in production brought those conversations to a halt.
The former Charger has always been more of a complementary wideout anyway, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be much more than that this season or in the future.
Williams’ inability to blossom into a true “number one” wide receiver was a big reason Las Vegas spent its first selection of the draft on Henry Ruggs III. The Alabama product’s collegiate stats may not indicate he’s a number one option – 40 catches for 746 yards and 7 TDs last season – but he showed plenty of traits in Tuscaloosa to prove he can take over the role.
Ruggs was the fastest player at the NFL Combine which will help stretch defenses vertically, and he has good after the catch ability to be a threat on short and intermediate routes.
While Las Vegas’ first-round pick garners most of the headlines, one of the organization’s third-rounders could be a dark-horse candidate as a starter this season. At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, Bryan Edwards has the size and the contested catch ability to be an excellent possession receiver at the next level. However, the South Carolina product will need to improve as a route-runner quickly to vault himself into the starting lineup next season.
My Prediction: No. 1 Henry Ruggs III, No. 2 Tyrell Williams
I think Edwards has a bright future ahead of him and could potentially take over the number two role towards the end of the 2020 season. However, the spot is Williams’ to lose and I think he’ll thrive in a complementary role to Ruggs. Speaking of the speed demon, he’ll walk in on day one as the most talented player in the position group and barring an unforeseen circumstance, that won’t change between now and Week one.