The Oakland Raiders’ top two wide receiver slots are spoken for. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are arguably the top duo in the league at the position, giving Derek Carr an embarrassment of riches to target on the outside.
After those two, however, the depth chart looks much less clear.
Cordarrelle Patterson and Seth Roberts represent above average depth options at WR, but the team would do well to find themselves a surefire WR3 in this year’s draft.
Here are five options the team could target after the 1st-round:
1. Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma)
If you watched Westbrook play at Oklahoma, it will come as a shock that he is projected as a mere 4th-round pick by CBS Sports. At 6-0, 178-lbs, the Heisman finalist’s low draft projections are undoubtedly due to his small stature. Despite his size, Westbrook racked up 80 catches, 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns last year as a Sooner, being utilized all over the field by coach Bob Stoops.
Westbrook’s game is reminiscent of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ WR DeSean Jackson. They both have the ability to open up the field by taking screens to the house or getting behind the secondary for deep passing plays. Westbrook’s height and weight coming into the draft are identical to Jackson’s in 2008. Both have immense speed; Westbrook ran a 4.34 40 at his pro-day, while Jackson ran a 4.35 at the combine.
If Westbrook can come into Oakland and provide a similar pedigree to Jackson, who has made three Pro Bowl’s, the Raiders’s passing attack would be downright frightening.
2. Malachi Dupre (LSU)
Dupre was one of the most highly touted WR recruits in the country coming out of high school and his decision to go to LSU may have cost him millions. Although the Tigers perennially boast one of the country’s strongest programs, they were been abysmal at throwing the football during Dupre’s time in Death Valley. As a result, Dupre never amassed more than 700 yards or six touchdowns during any of his three collegiate seasons.
While Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry had a future NFL draft choice in Zach Mettenberger throwing them the rock at LSU, Dupre was forced to suffer through the the painfully inaccurate arms of Brandon Harris and Danny Etling. He never got the opportunity to showcase his true talent, which could still be immense with someone like Carr as his signal-caller.
According to CBS Sports, Dupre is a 3rd-round projection. The Raiders shouldn’t target him that early, but if he slid to the 4th or 5th-rounds, he could potentially be a steal. We see time and time again dynamic athletes who weren’t utilize properly in college, but wind up excelling in the right NFL system; Dupre definitely fits this archetype.
3. JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
Smith-Schuster doesn’t have elite speed, but he makes up for that by excelling at nearly everything else. He has a similar skill-set to Anquan Boldin coming out of FSU; big frame (6-1, 215-lbs), tremendous hands and no fear in the middle of the football field.
His best season at USC came as a sophomore when the Long Beach native put up 89 catches, 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns. Injuries have slowed his production over his career and dropped him from a surefire 1st-rounder to his current projections as a 2nd or 3rd-rounder, according to CBS Sports.
Smith-Schuster could come in an immediately step into the WR3 role for the Raiders, while eventually being groomed to replace Michael Crabtree who will turn 30 in September. He’s already expressed his interest in joining the Raiders’ receiving corp on social media and his upbeat, passionate approach to the game would fit Jack Del Rio’s mantra perfectly.
4. Jehu Chesson (Michigan)
Chesson, like Smith-Schuster, had his best collegiate season two years ago. In 2015 he put up 50 catches, 764 yards and nine touchdowns. The stats aren’t spectacular, but he showed up when it counted. Against Ohio State Chesson put up eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. In the Citrus Bowl against Florida he turned in five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown en route to a dominant win. He also put up an absurd 207 yards, four touchdown effort against Indiana earlier in the season.
In the 2015 Citrus Bowl win he suffered a grave knee injury that the Detroit Free Press reported as a PCL tear. The lingering effects left him far less productive in 2016, only amassing 35 catches, 500 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-3, 204-lbs, Chesson turned in an excellent 4.47 40 time at the combine for his size, pointing to a possible return to pre-injury form for the big wideout.
A stereotypical Michigan product, he is a tough, grinder of a WR who can provide admirable run-blocking and isn’t scared to make contested catches in traffic. Ultimately, It will be up to the Raiders’ training staff to determine if Chesson is worth a valuable draft pick come April. He represents the bargain bin option of this list, as CBS Sports has projected that he will either be a 7th-round pick or go undrafted.
5. Stacy Coley (Miami)
Coley represents the mid-round pick option of this list, projected as a 5th-rounder by CBS Sports. He steadily improved each season at “The U,” topping off his collegiate career with 63 receptions, 754 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Draft pundits question Coley’s drive and passion for the game, with an unnamed NFC Scout telling NFL.com that he was “notorious [in Miami] for kind of coasting on his talent rather than putting in the work he should be.”
Common sense says indicates otherwise.
Coley greatly improved his hands during his four years at Miami and was a completely different player last season then when he arrived in 2013. He was named to the third-team All-ACC both of the last two seasons and regularly provided a reliable target for fellow NFL hopeful Brad Kaaya.
Of the options on this list, who should the Raiders draft?
This poll is closed