Starters: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree
Depth: Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton, Jaydon Mickens, KJ Brent, Keon Hatcher, Isaac Whitney, Ishmael Zamora
Additions: Cordarrelle Patterson
Departures: Andre Holmes
The entrenched starters remain Coop and Crab. Each of them surpassed 1000 yards last season in their second season together. Crabtree made a lot of tough catches, but he also led the league with 9 drops.
Since becoming the team’s pick at number 5 overall in the 2015 draft, Cooper has put up two 1000-yard seasons and been named to the Pro Bowl each season. This offseason Coop has shown up yoked. It appears he is ready to take another step up and quiet the criticisms of his lack of aggression as a receiver. That’s very good news.
Also returning for his third season in the Raiders receiving corps is former undrafted Seth Roberts. He had a few frustrating drops last season, but also had some heroic catches to offset those, including his 41-yard game-winning catch in overtime in Tampa.
Roberts will have competition for that third receiver spot with the addition of Cordarrelle Patterson. Though Patterson is more known for his return abilities, he is electric on the field, so the Raiders will try to find ways to get the ball in his hands.
What is likely the team’s final receiver roster spot will have several suitors. Returning are Johnny Holton, Jaydon Mickens, and KJ Brent – all of whom were undrafted rookies in 2016. Holton made the regular season roster, seeing limited time as a receiver while playing mostly on special teams. Mickens and Brent impressed in camp and earned practice squad spots. Mickens is a speedy slot receiver while Brent is a larger receiver who is looking to fill the vacancy left by Andre Holmes’s departure.
The others in the mix will be this year’s crop of undrafted rookies – Keon Hatcher, Isaac Whitney, and Ishmael Zamora.
Patterson’s arrival helped to stabilize this group with another speedy weapon for Derek Carr. But he doesn’t solve anything. He underachieved with the Vikings over his first four seasons, mostly because he has never improved his route running. He still rounds off his routes which makes it easier for corners to shadow him and harder for his quarterback to work out timing with him. He does have reliable hands and once the ball is in them, he can leave defenders in the dust with world class speed. What he hasn’t shown the ability to do is play the slot and that’s where the Raiders could use an upgrade.
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