What a fantastic draft year for wide receivers. This is considered possibly the deepest class of wide receivers ever, with first round level talent expected to be on the board well in the second round. But it isn't just deep, the receivers at the top are quite good. And some of the incredible talent that could possibly be still on the board in the second round is tantalizing.
It's a good thing too, because the Raiders need to secure a number one receiver. It's go big, or go home for the Raiders at receiver in this draft. No sense in drafting any projects or simply contributors, they need a potential number one guy. They also could use a speedy slot receiver/return specialist. And with that in mind, here are the receivers squarely on their radar for this draft:
Sammy Watkins, Clemson - Round 1
A certified game breaker and is the complete package as a receiver. His game has no apparent flaws. the only knock anyone can come up with is his size (6-1, 200 pounds). He runs crisp routes, breaks the press, and burns corners with regularity. He also goes up and fights for catches in coverage. Watkins would instantly be the number one receiver in Oakland. He would likely take over the starting job from Denarius Moore because they are similar types of receivers. Add Rod Streater and Andre Holmes to that equation and the Raiders receiving corps would go from decent to potentially one of the best in the league.
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State - Round 1-2
Could be the best slot receiver to come out of the draft in some time. He is a nightmare to cover. You won't find a better route runner in this draft and his quick movements and footwork make it almost impossible for a corner to shadow him. He also has fantastic hands and tremendous speed (wide receiver combine best 4.33 40-yard-dash) which could translate to a lot more than just a slot receiver. Some compare him to Steve Smith. The thing about Cooks is since there is really no way they they would take him at pick number five, the only way they could draft him with their current picks is if he somehow falls out of the first round which would appear unlikely. Though you never really know.
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt - Round 2
Put up big numbers the past two seasons against SEC competition, amassing 2800 yards and 15 touchdowns, earning him consecutive All SEC first team honors. He has ideal receiver size (6-3, 210) and is seen simply as a pure receiver. Though you might expect that from the cousin of the GOAT Jerry Rice. In fact he shares a lot of characteristics of his iconic cousin. He is a disciplined route runner with great focus and coordination to haul in tough catches. He doesn't have great burst and is not a burner but has decent speed. He is also a workout warrior -- all Jerry Rice characteristics. That's not to say he is the next Jerry Rice but would you want to pass up the possibility he could even touch that kind of potential? The Raiders had him in for a visit this off-season to see for themselves.
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina - Round 4
Another receiver with NFL pedigree. His older brother Andre plays running back in the NFL currently for the Cardinals. Bruce has extreme physical talents. At 5-9 with receiver and return abilities, he could be what Jacoby Ford was supposed to be for the Raiders. Where Ellington must improve is his route running. While his 40-yard-dash at the combine was just decent (4.45), he was a top performer in nearly every category including 3-cone (6.69), vertical jump (39.5), 20-yard shuttle (3.95), and 60-yard shuttle (11.12). At South Carolina, split time between football and being the basketball team's starting point guard. A focus on football alone could be enough to fix his route running deficiencies.