For the Raiders it isn’t hard to visualize what the wide receiving corps will look like with Antonio Brown gone. He didn’t participate in a single team session throughout training camp, so they never lined up with him there. Even though whomever was in there for him was seen as a placeholder until he got back.
Now, the placeholders are getting their interim tags pulled off and will be expected to run this offense as it was intended when AB was in the plans.
Here’s what the receiving corps looks like at this moment:
2018 NFL totals: 10 starts, 41 catches, 653 yards, 5 TD’s
It all starts with Tyrell Williams. The guy who Greg Olson said several times was originally pegged as the target for the Raiders’ number one receiver job before they thought getting Brown was a possibility.
Williams is the big, tall, long-striding deep threat Carr has lacked in his career. Carr compares him to Andre Holmes for size and playing style, but Holmes had only a fraction of the talent Williams has. First and foremost, Holmes was just big. Williams has instincts to high point the ball and take it away from defenders.
2018 NFL totals: 2 starts, 7 catches, 64 yards, 0 TD
The big question everyone wants to know is who takes Antonio Brown’s spot as the starter? Well, if training camp is any indication that player will be J.J. Nelson. That is, of course, if he’s fully back from his ankle injury. He is questionable for tonight’s game.
Nelson is the fastest receiver on the team. Mostly used as a straight line, deep ball specialist in Arizona, he has shown thus far that he can do a bit more than that. He showed steady improvement throughout camp in his route running and ability to make adjustments to balls in the air to make tough catches. He is not in AB’s league as a talent, but he is the closest to have a similar skillset and thus could allow the Raiders to run some of the plays they originally had designed for Brown.
2018 NFL totals: 10 starts, 35 catches, 334 yards, 1 TD
Like Williams and Nelson, Grant was a free agent pickup by the team this offseason. He is a slot receiver who can line up outside as well, as he showed in the preseason. He initially was behind rookie fifth round pick Hunter Renfrow as the team’s slot guy, but eventually surpassed him, getting snaps ahead of him in preseason games. He figures to start either in the slot with Nelson outside or outside if Nelson doesn’t play.
Renfrow could see some time in the slot as well, which is what the Raiders drafted him for. Grant started ten games in Indianapolis last season, many times lining up outside. If and when Grant lines up outside, Renfrow would be the man in the slot.
Doss showed up big time in the preseason. Initially he was the odd man out on this roster, but the moment Brown was released, the Raiders attempted to re-sign him from the Jaguars’ practice squad. The Jags upped their offer to keep him and he agreed to stay. The next day, the Raiders upped their offer, throwing him an extra $800K which was the equivalent of a 4th round pick’s salary. Doss accepted and returned to his hometown team.
None of this means Doss will light it up for the Raiders immediately. In fact, he may not even be active for the opener. His status on the roster could depend on if Nelson is a go.
2018 NFL totals: 1 start, 6 catches, 40 yards, 0 TD
He is primarily a special teams player and is unlikely to see any time on offense.
Combined 2018 NFL totals: 23 starts, 89 catches, 1091 yards, 6 TD’s
Those numbers are a decent season for one receiver. Certainly not the numbers you want to see for an entire receiving corps.
In case you were wondering, Raiders top three receivers last year of Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, and Amari Cooper combined for 130 catches for 1513 yards and 6 TD’s. And Coop’s numbers were for six games.
Tyrell Williams is an upgrade over everyone the Raiders had aside from Coop. But there’s a pretty sizable drop-off after him. We’ll see if the Raiders can make do.