Today, NFL.com’s Ari Bhanpuri released his rankings for each team’s set of ‘triplets’- that is, their quarterback, running back and primary receiver. The concept of having triplets came into vogue in the early 1990s when the Dallas Cowboys had Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. The concept largely ignored the fact that the Cowboys at the time had what is likely the best offensive line ever, but the quality of their skill position players didn’t hurt.
Bhanpuri looks favorably upon the Raiders’ three primary skill players, ranking them 13th in the NFL and saying this:
“I fully recognize that I’m higher on Carr than most, but I truly think the sixth-year pro is set to have a career season. After battling injuries and a roster overhaul the past couple years, Carr has been supplied the surrounding talent he needs to recapture his MVP-caliber form from 2016. Perhaps the biggest reason for my faith in the Raiders’ franchise passer is the arrival of Antonio Brown -- far and away the most productive receiver of the past decade. Sure, he just turned 31 and, of course, has been involved in some distracting off-field dramas. But just last year, he caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and a career-best 15 receiving touchdowns. His work ethic has become a thing of legend and is why he should be able to sustain his Hall-of-Fame-level play this season and well beyond. However, for both Carr and Brown to really take off, they’ll need help from the run game -- something Oakland has received little of the past two seasons. Football minds much smarter than mine raved about Jacobs in the pre-draft process, with NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranking him No. 8 on his top 100 prospects list. Hard for me to rank the rookie much higher than 23rd here without a single pro snap on his ledger. If DJ’s right, though -- as he often is -- expect Jacobs to quickly climb the RB ladder.”
However, Bhanpuri was even more kind to two of Oakland’s division rivals, ranking Kansas City’s trio of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Damien Williams 5th and the Chargers’ trio of Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen 2nd best behind only New Orleans. The Broncos are 29th, and that at least we can all agree on.
There is no real question that Oakland’s skill position players are in the upper echelon of the NFL this year after being absolutely putrid in 2018. But just like the Cowboys of old, it will all come down to how well the offensive line plays. They will be the ones to give Derek Carr time to use all his shiny new toys. If the Raiders offense comes together, it has the tools to be one of the most explosive units in the league.