Derek Carr’s receivers certainly didn't do him any favors last year with the second most drops in the league (38) according to Pro Football Focus figures. That will have to improve this season
Even Amari Cooper — a former first round draft pick who showed unlimited potential his first two seasons — was off his game. His catch numbers were cut in half, from 96 in 2016 to just 48 in 2017, while leading the team in drops (10). His receiving yardage total dipped from 1,158 yards to a disappointing 680 last year.
Cooper is the only major contributor from last year’s receiving corps returning this season. He’ll have a couple of newcomers joining him with their own share of detractors they’d love to prove wrong.
Oakland acquired former Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant in a draft day trade. Bryant displayed the ability to consistently take the top off a defense during his tenure in Pittsburgh. Despite his stellar play, he eventually wore out his welcome. Bryant missed the entire 2016 season due to a substance abuse policy violation and fell out of grace with coaches last season after complaining about losing playing time to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The Raiders also signed former Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson back in March. The former All-Pro was cut following the 2017 season. Nelson led the NFL in touchdown catches in 2016, and only saw a dip in production in 2017 after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in week six.
Training camp starts this week, so we’ll soon see if the new group of Raiders receivers can give Derek Carr the help he needs. There will definitely be no lack of motivation with Gruden’s offense in place.