3 Raiders who could earn starting roles during 2022 training camp
A few days back, in my Raiders’ offensive skill positions depth chart, I listed Demarcus Robinson as the most-likely counterpart to Davante Adams on the outside (click here to read why, if interested). That said, Keelan Cole is breathing right down Robinson’s neck, and a difference in camps between the two may be enough to change the tides.
Outside of special teamer Tyron Johnson, Cole is the only receiver on the Raiders’ roster who recorded a 40-time faster or equal to the leaguewide average at the position. Being clocked at 4.33, Cole’s speed is a true asset for Las Vegas, making him bound to flourish with Derek Carr and the rest of the Raiders’ offense.
I want to cover two things here; Why Derek Carr is an ideal quarterback for Cole, and why Davante Adams is the perfect compliment – Outside of the obvious, being he’s Davante Adams. I’ll start with the latter.
When Adams was in Green Bay, just one season ago, he had a teammate named Marquez Valdes-Scantling; MVS, for short. MVS, recording a 4.37 40-time, enjoyed great success as the counterpart of Davante Adams, serving the role of a deep threat. Already, we can see the similarities of Cole and MVS come together here, but I’ll lay it down a little thicker.
In 2019, Valdes-Scantling finished with yards per reception mark of 17.4, totaling 452 receiving yards off of only 26 receptions. The following year, during the ’20 season, MVS upped his yards per catch to a league-leading 20.9, while tallying 7 total scores; 6 through the air, and an additional 1 on the ground.
Cole is very similar to MVS. We spoke about the comparison in speed, but not so much Cole’s prowess as a deep threat himself. Through the five years of Cole’s young career, he’s mustered up a yard per reception average of at least 15. Given the entirety of his pro career has been spent with the Jets and Jaguars, as opposed to Rodgers and Adams, this is a great number.
This all ties into the second part of my two earlier points of discussion – Why Derek Carr is an ideal quarterback for Cole.
In the above MVS and Keelan Cole comparison, it’s easy to think MVS had Rodgers, while Cole will not. Ultimately, this will lead some to believe there’s no chance the Raiders’ receiver can match Valdes-Scantling’s production, given Carr is Cole’s quarterback and not Rodgers. Let’s debunk that.
Some weeks ago, I disproved the popular theory of Davante Adams’ regression, going from Aaron Rodgers to Derek Carr (Click here to dive into that). There, I pointed to Derek Carr’s deep ball analytics through recent years, even comparing the most recent to Aaron Rodgers. There’s too much to fully unwrap here, but I will throw out some significant things.
In the last three years, Carr has thrown more deep balls than Rodgers. On these deep balls, Carr has posted a higher completion percentage. As recent as last season, NFL Network listed Carr as the 9th-best deep-ball passer leaguewide, above Aaron Rodgers, who sat at 10th.
I say these numbers not to compare Rodgers and Carr as overall quarterbacks, but rather to help tighten the argument of a deep threat receiver with speed being able to excel alongside Davante Adams. As some may think MVS excelled as a deep threat with Adams due to Rodgers, it’s important to show how Carr can keep up with Rodgers downfield. If you want more on how the two quarterbacks compare, check out that regression disproval piece.