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Raiders 2018 Draft Radar: Wide receivers

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NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We have mentioned that wide receiver is a need for this team. Jon Gruden has mentioned it as well. They have a weapon in Amari Cooper and switched out Michael Crabtree for a 33-year-old Jordy Nelson. They could go in a few different directions at wide receiver in order to add a talented for Derek Carr.

Here’s are some receivers I could see them looking to in order to do that and where they could consider them:

Courtland Sutton, SMU — Round 2

Sutton has the best combination of size and hands in this class. The 6-3, 218-pounder is a smooth, effortless receiver with soft hands. He blocks out defenders and high points the ball to win battles for jump balls in tight coverage. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.54), but is a long strider who shows surprising quickness and agility for his frame. Gruden will like that he’s a willing blocker, is not afraid to go over the middle and can lay a pretty strong stiff arm as well. One of those guys who’s big, but plays with a strength and comfort of someone smaller.

James Washington, Oklahoma State — Round 3

Washington’s production is off the charts. Every season at Oklahoma State, his numbers increased, including over 1000 yards and double digit touchdowns each of the past three seasons for the Cowboys. The 5-11, 213-pounder was last season’s Biletnikoff Award winner can do a little bit of everything. He will make the tough catch over the middle, the over-the-shoulder deep grab, the contested sideline catch, you name it. His discipline and hand-eye coordination are off the charts.

What he won’t give you is great speed or quickness, which is something you hope to get some someone of his size. But that didn’t stop him the third highest yards per route run last season (3.48) according to Pro Football Focus.

Daesean Hamilton, Penn State — Round 4

Hamilton has a pretty impressive deep catching numbers. Perhaps the most impressive in college football last season. He was targeted 15 times on deep routes. 12 of them were deemed catchable and he caught 11 of them for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns. That’s out-freaking-standing. But he also caught had nearly all of his yards from the slot.

He reaches out away from his body and snatches the ball when the ball is placed where it is supposed to be. Whether it is crossing over the middle or deep. If the ball is behind him on the deep ball – which seemed to happen a lot -- he has shown the ability to make the correct adjustment, come back and shield the defender to make the catch or go up high to get it. He impressed at Senior Bowl practices enough that he may not last to day three.

Deontay Burnett, USC — Round 5

When you look at USC last season, most people talk about Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones III. It was all about whether Darnold would make the right decision, if he could fit balls into tight windows, and whether Jones would break off a big run. What kinda went unnoticed was when Darnold needed a catch, his most reliable target was Deontay Burnett.

On 130 targets to Burnett last season, 88 of them were deemed catchable. And Burnett caught 86 of them for 1106yards and 16 touchdowns. He worked a lot out the slot, seeing 106 of his 130 targets from there, making 66 of his 88 catches for 883 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has fantastic focus to look balls in even with defenders in his hip pocket or draped over him. I think he’s being severely overlooked in this draft and someone the Raiders could reap the benefit of that.

Antonio Callaway, Florida — Round 7

Here I am watching the combine and they get to the gauntlet drills and instantly I’m thinking “who is that guy?” He was easily the smoothest pass catcher in the bunch and yet he’s not among the coveted prospects in this draft. The reason for that has nothing to do with his on-field talent, which is clearly worthy of serious consideration. It’s for his off the field issues.

Don’t feel bad if you too had to look him up, because he didn’t even play in 2017. He was serving a suspension for several incidents including a credit card fraud scheme, marijuana possession, and a sexual assault allegation. I have seen him as high as the fourth round in some projections, but with his laundry list of issues, a late round flier would seem to be his best bet. Someone will take a chance because he is a natural at catching the football with 4.41 speed who can also return punts.