The Oakland Raiders have one of the best receiver duos in the NFL in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. And tight end Jared Cook is the freaky, athletic matchup nightmare. The question is at slot receiver, where Seth Roberts is clutch but not consistent.
Enter Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s supremely talented but hasn’t lived up to his 2013 first-round status as a receiver. Where he has made an impact as a kick returner and that’s what many thought the Raiders signed him for this offseason.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to involve him in the offense.
"He's a fun tool,” said Downing during June minicamp. “He's a big, strong, physical, dynamic-with-the-ball-in-his-hands-type player, and we're excited to see what he can do for us."
So Roberts, who occupied the No. 3 receiver position the last two years, has competition for playing time. Patterson has some advantages that he’s bringing to this battle.
The speed advantage goes to Patterson and not just for his faster 40 (4.42-4.46). He’s had a few top-10 mph clockings according to Next Gen Stats. His five kick return touchdowns of 100-plus yards are an indication of the type of speed he possesses.
The route running advantage goes to Roberts, through neither are nearly Amari Cooper level. One of the things Patterson has been criticized for as a receiver is his route running. Raiders coaches have their work cut out with Patterson there.
Hands may side with Patters who has less drops in his four years (6) than Roberts in two(9). Patterson’s career drop percentage is three percent while Roberts’ is seven. In 2016, it was just 1.4 percent in 2016 compared to 6.5 for Roberts according to Sporting Charts.
Yards after catch
As Downing described, Patterson, the return man, is dynamic with the ball in his hands. In 2016, Roberts’ 5.2 yards after the catch average couldn’t keep up with Patterson’s 6.2-yard average after the catch. Over their careers, Patterson averages six yards after the catch to 4.8 for Roberts.
The intangibles definitely go to Roberts after playing with a double-hernia in 2016. It undoubtedly affected him but only his ability to get open, not his hands. So he doesn’t get a pass for the drops but gets the intangibles for that and his clutch play and five touchdowns last season.
Both of them are 6’2” with Patterson being a little heavier and stronger. But it hasn’t led to any more production than Roberts in traffic. Since they have the same catch radius and contested catch percentage according to PlayerProfiler.co, it’s a wash.
Patterson had 52 catches for 453 yards to 38 catches for 397 yards for Roberts in 2016. Roberts had five TDs and 10.4 yards per catch to two TDs and 8.7 for Patterson. Patterson had a catch percentage of 74 to 49.4 for Roberts but it needs context.
Yards per catch
Roberts’ average per catch is better due to having 9.8 yards per target to 6.5 for Patterson according to PlayerProfiler.com. Roberts also had 21 red zone targets to only eight for Roberts. So their pure statistical seasons have to be counted as a wash.
Roberts played hurt in 2016 while Patterson had bad quarterbacks his whole career. We’re talking about Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Shaun Hill, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater as a rookie. So the degree of difficulty is a wash too.
Fit with the team is also a wash because it depends on how the Raiders use their No. 3 receiver. If they want him in the to be a slot, they’ll stay with Roberts. But if they want Cooper to work out of the slot, they can use Patterson’s speed outside.
That speed, hands and ability to run after the catch are Patterson’s advantages. Route-running and intangibles and being there the last two years are Roberts’ advantages. And after Round 1, (one preseason game) I have it close, but Patterson is slightly ahead.
They both had a couple of short catches in the short time they were in the game. Roberts went for 14 yards while Patterson was able to turn a short pass into a 17-yard play with that ability after the catch. They have until the third preseason game to lock things down so stay tuned.
Who takes the field as the Raiders third receiver come the regular season?
This poll is closed
Someone else (specify in comments)