Neck and neck for the most desperate need on the Raiders in S&BP polls was defensive end and wide receiver. Both were hovering around 80% as a desperate need and I couldn't agree more. The Raiders' utter lack of elite wide receiver talent has been a long and tiresome struggle.
It's hard to watch, to be honest. If you like good football, watching the Raiders' wide receiving corps has not been worth watching. The statistic that the last 1000-yard receiver was Randy Moss (1005) in 2005 doesn't even cover the futility.Overall, his time in Oakland was a cautionary tale. One most would just as soon forget.
Really, the last time the Raiders could boast about their receiving corps was 2002 when Jerry Rice and Tim Brown were leading the team to the Super Bowl. And it wouldn't have even taken both of them. Either one would have sufficed. But that's how long it's been. Saying it's long overdue doesn't do it justice. It's reached proportions that have no description.
There are free agent options out there who are capable of ending this drought. Here are the top candidates for the Raiders purposes.
Cobb was the Packers' round two pick in Reggie McKenzie's final season in Green Bay. He wasn't great coming out the gates as a rookie, but has improved every season in the NFL. He was averaging 63 yards per game his second season, 72 yards per game his third season, and 80 yards per game last season with 1287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Up until last season, Cobb was putting up those numbers in the same receiving corps as James Jones so we know they can co-exist. The Raiders would love to see a reunion of the two in Oakland.
Here is what Evan "Tex" Western of Acme Packing Company had to say about Cobb:
He's arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now, and rarely works split wide - 87% of his routes run were in the slot. He also has been used as a ball carrier and blocker in the backfield and as a kick/punt returner. He has good but not great straight-line speed - his strengths are in his quickness in and out of cuts, and his acceleration. Not immune to the occasional drop. He's young - will be 25 in 2015, and I'm expecting a 4-year deal so he can hit free agency again before he turns 30. I doubt he gets to $9M/year - Victor Cruz's contract seems more likely ($8.5M/year or so). My guess is he doesn't get re-signed before free agency starts, because I think there's a slim chance somebody offers him a big deal around $10M per year - but if somebody does give him that kind of money, it won't be the Packers.
Game breaking abilities. That's what Torrey Smith has and he has shown the ability to stretch the field and make some fantastic plays. He's also very durable, having missed just two starts in his career, and starting every game the past three seasons for the Ravens. His red flag is dropped passes. He had a career-high 11 dropped passes in 2014 which was tied for second most in the NFL. Though, that doesn't mean he's comparable to his fellow Maryland alum, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Others to have a lot of drops last season include Kelvin Benjamin (11), Julian Edelman (11), Anquan Boldin (10), Andre Johnson (10), Reggie Wayne (9), and Demaryius Thomas (9). Smith also matched his drop totals with a career high in touchdowns in a season (11). In 2013 he had 1128 receiving yards. The last Raiders receiver to do that was Jerry Rice (1211) in 2002.
Back in 2009, the Raiders held the 7th overall pick with the top two receivers on the board being Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. Crabtree didn't want to join the Raiders so if they were to take a receiver, Maclin was the best option. So, naturally they chose Darrius Heyward-Bey (yes, a second DHB reference). Now while Heyward-Bey is a free agent from the Steelers -- his third team in three years -- with a total of 3 catches for 33 yards last season, Maclin is set to hit free agency coming off a career-best 1318 yards and 10 touchdowns and the Raiders may have a second chance to bring him to Oakland. The big question mark is if he'll even hit the market.
Here is what Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation had to say about Maclin
Maclin opted against signing a long-term deal in the 2014 offseason in order to bet on himself and earn a big payday in the 2015 offseason. Maclin's gamble worked. He had a career year last season despite lackluster quarterback play. He can stretch the field and make tough sideline grabs. According to Pro Football Focus he only dropped one pass all year. He'll command a big salary but I don't think the Eagles let him get away. He's said he wants to stay in Philadelphia and I get the sense the feeling is mutual. The Eagles don't have much at wide receiver if they let him get away. If negotiations fail, the Eagles could always just always apply the franchise tag.