Oakland Raiders 2017 Position Battles: Wide Receivers

Posted Jul 3, 2017

Time to take a look at how the wide receivers are shaping up as the Silver and Black prepare for Training Camp 2017.

The Silver and Black report to Training Camp 2017 at the end of July.

After an impressive 2016 season, let’s take a look at the wide receivers on the Oakland Raiders roster, and which players in particular you should be keeping an eye on this summer.

K.J. Brent

2016 Recap (Raiders Practice Squad)

After finishing up his collegiate career at Wake Forest University, Brent was signed by the Silver and Black as an undrafted free agent, eventually joining the team’s practice squad after being waived by the Raiders in early September.

Brent spent the entire 2016 season on the practice squad, but standing at 6-4, he certainly possesses a unique skillset, similar to that of former Raider, and current Buffalo Bill, Andre Holmes.

The Silver and Black have a recent history of plucking players from their practice squad – look at wide receiver Seth Roberts for one – so keep an eye on Brent, particularly his contributions on special teams, when the team gets to training camp.

Amari Cooper

2016 Recap (83 Receptions, 1,153 Receiving Yards, Five Touchdowns. Pro Bowl Selection)

Cooper was good as a rookie, but he was even better during his second NFL season.

Both his receptions and receiving yards went up from his rookie year, and at season’s end, Cooper had become just the third player in NFL history to secure 1,000 yards and 70 catches in each of his first two seasons.

The tandem of Cooper and Michael Crabtree proved to be one of the more dynamic combinations in the league, and there’s no reason to think that with another year of experience together, the pair won’t be able to replicate their production in 2017.

As far as “Coop” is concerned; he looks even bigger than he did last year, and as we all know, his explosiveness has never been questioned.

Fast, and even bigger, and stronger? Look out defensive backs.

Michael Crabtree

2016 Recap (89 Receptions, 1,003 Receiving Yards, Eight Touchdowns)

Crabtree’s second season in Silver and Black proved to be a strong one for the veteran receiver. His 89 receptions were a career high, and his 1,003 receiving yards, marked the first time he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark since 2012.

Like his quarterback Derek Carr, “King Crab” certainly seemed to have a flare for the dramatic last season, rising up in the biggest moments for the team when they absolutely needed him.

Crabtree has fit in seamlessly since joining the Raiders in 2015, and now headed into his third season in Oakland, No. 15 looks poised once again to make life difficult for opposing defensive backs in tandem with Cooper.

Call me biased, but I think the pair of Cooper and Crabtree is the most dynamic tandem in the AFC West.

Keon Hatcher (Rookie)

2016 Recap (WITH ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS: 44 Receptions, 743 Receiving Yards, Eight Touchdowns)

Hatcher enjoyed a quality career as a Razorback, finishing his time in Fayetteville ranked number four on the program’s all-time list for receiving touchdowns.

Finding offensive success in the SEC is no easy task, so give Hatcher credit for that, and we’ll get a better idea of how his game translates to the pros once the team reports to Napa.

Johnny Holton

2016 Recap (Two receptions, 34 Receiving Yards)

Holton made the final roster as an undrafted free agent, and while his two receptions certainly don’t jump off the page, just looking at those numbers don’t really do justice to what the speedy rookie brought to the table last season.

While he was admittedly a raw talent when he arrived in the Bay Area, Holton possessed one thing that you simply can’t teach; speed.

The Raiders coaching staff decided to put that speed to use, as Holton was a fixture on the special teams units, and also got involved on the offensive side of the football, finishing the season with six rushes for 43 yards.

With the departure of Andre Holmes, Holton will certainly have an opportunity to continue flourishing on special teams, but I’ll be interested to see if he can take a step forward as an offensive playmaker as well.

Jaydon Mickens

2016 Recap (Raiders Practice Squad)

This is a player I’m looking forward to watching once the pads come on at training camp.

After Mickens wrapped up a stellar career at the University of Washington, he went undrafted before eventually being signed to the Raiders practice squad. The speedy wide receiver spent his entire first NFL season on the sidelines, but throughout the Offseason Workout Program he’s shown a good grasp of the offense, and made a handful of plays that really make you take notice of the 5-11 speedster.

Mickens said that in addition to his speed and explosiveness, he’s also made a concerted effort to improve as a return man, which is another area he could possibly contribute come the regular season.

Long story short, Mickens is an exciting prospect, and one I’m very much looking forward to seeing once training camp arrives, and the competition periods ratchet up.

Cordarrelle Patterson

2016 Recap (WITH MINNESOTA VIKINGS: 52 Receptions, 453 Receiving Yards, Two Touchdowns Pro Bowl Selection, First-Team All-Pro Selection)

General Manager Reggie McKenzie made a splash in free agency, signing the dynamic playmaker in mid-March.

Like Holton, the full scope of Patterson’s game can’t be appreciated by just looking at his receiving numbers. While No. 84 showed that he’s a dynamic offensive weapon when given the chance, where Patterson really made his hay in Minnesota was as a kick returner.

The former Tennessee Volunteer earned two trips to the Pro Bowl, as well as a pair of First-Team All-Pro nods during his tenure as a Viking. Patterson is certainly looking forward to showing off what he can bring to the Silver and Black in a variety of areas, and I’m excited to see how Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing utilizes him once the regular season arrives.

Seth Roberts

2016 Recap (38 Receptions, 397 Receiving Yards, Five Touchdowns)

It seems like all Seth Roberts does is score game-winning touchdowns, doesn’t it?

After an impressive 2015 campaign, Roberts delivered another strong season last year, finding the end zone five times once again, often in the biggest moments of the game.

Since he was promoted to the active roster, No. 10 has been the team’s primary slot receiver, and it has certainly been a role he’s thrived in; his back-to-back five touchdown seasons ties a franchise record for the most by an undrafted Raider.

Each season he’s been in the NFL has shown a marked improvement for Roberts, so I’ll be looking to see if the same holds true once again this year.

Isaac Whitney

2016 Recap (WITH USC TROJANS: Eight Receptions, 112 Receiving Yards, Two Touchdowns)

After starting his college career at Riverside Community College, Whitney transferred to USC where he played for two seasons.

In addition to his work on the football field, Whitney also ran track for the Trojans; a big, athletic player who also has a set of wheels?

Let’s see what he can do when the pads come on.

Ishmael Zamora

2016 Recap (WITH BAYLOR BEARS: 63 Receptions, 809 Receiving Yards, Eight Touchdowns)

If nothing else, Zamora was certainly productive on the field during his time on the field at Baylor.

Once the team reports to Napa, we’ll get a better idea of what Zamora can bring to the table both on both offense and special teams, but keep an eye on him, that type of college production doesn’t happen by accident.

Storyline To Follow:

Which of the young wide receivers will rise up and make themselves noticed?

Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are the 2017 Raiders base wide receivers, I don’t think there’s really much debate about that. Seth Roberts has carved himself out a nice niche as the man in the slot, and Cordarrelle Patterson figures to find himself a role too; however, outside that, there are certainly spots to be won.

Now, it also depends on how many wide receivers the team elects to carry on its roster, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the younger guys at the bottom of the roster. Can either K.J. Brent or Jaydon Mickens take a big step forward, or will one of the undrafted rookies come out of nowhere?

Being able to contribute on special teams will also be key to any of the younger wide outs making the final roster, so it’s set to be an interesting few weeks at training camp.