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2019 Position Review: Wide Receivers

The 2019 regular season is officially in the books, and while we're already looking ahead to the 2020 offseason, let's take some time to look back at the Raiders' roster, position by position, to see what the new year could hold for the Silver and Black.

Next up, the wide receivers.


Where to even begin with the 2019 Raiders' wide receivers?

Well, if you can remember all the way back to March 13, the Silver and Black traded for Antonio Brown, and while the mercurial athlete never played a meaningful snap for the team, his subsequent signing – and then release – defined much of the offseason, particularly for the wideouts.

With Brown no longer in the mix, Tyrell Williams assumed the role of the de facto No. 1 wide receiver on the team, and while his first season as a Raider had no shortage of ups and downs, the rangy wideout did finish 2019 as the team's leading "receiver" with 651 yards and six touchdowns.

(Also, before you all freak out and say, 'don't forget about Darren Waller!' I'm not, let me remind you that we're talking exclusively about the wide receivers on the roster)

Now, No. 16's first season in Silver and Black was far from perfect – he battled injury all year, and ultimately missed two weeks because of said injury – but when Williams was right, he proved to be a valuable member of the Raiders' offense, particularly in the early portion of 2019.

Throw in the fact that Williams' role – along with the role of every other offensive player on the roster –changed on September 7 when Antonio Brown was released, and it's hard to overstate just how wild of a season it was for the Raiders' wideouts.

While Brown's exodus from the roster did indeed throw a wrench in the offensive game plan, what it also did was provide opportunities for guys still on the roster, and give credit where it's due, as a handful of young guys took advantage, none more than Hunter Renfrow.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the former Clemson Tiger quickly grew to be a favorite of Derek Carr's, and when he was absent for a handful of games dealing with a rib injury, the offense certainly missed his production.

In total, Renfrow appeared in 13 games, hauling in 49 catches for 605 yards and four touchdowns.

Oh, and yes, it felt like 90 percent of those catches came on third down.

Now, aside from Williams and Renfrow, the Raiders' stable of wideouts really did seem to fluctuate week to week, as Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, Marcell Ateman, Trevor Davis, J.J. Nelson, Ryan Grant, and Dwayne Harris all caught passes for the Silver and Black in 2019.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Rico Gafford, who made his presence felt once he made his 2019 debut Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans.

Number to Know:

Two hundred nine.

That's how many receiving yards Hunter Renfrow had over the final two weeks of the regular season, which also coincides with his return from injury. Not only did No. 13 feast in terms of receptions and receiving yardage at the tail end of 2019, he also found the end zone twice in that time frame as well.

Entering 2020…

Marcell Ateman – Under Contract

Keelan Doss – Exclusive Rights Free Agent

Rico Gafford – Under Contract

Dwayne Harris – Unrestricted Free Agent

Zay Jones – Under Contract

Hunter Renfrow – Under Contract

Tyrell Williams – Under Contract

Head Coach Jon Gruden said it, as did General Manager Mike Mayock – the Silver and Black's wide receiving corps has to be better in 2020.

Yes, I know that the sudden exodus of The Wide Receiver Who Shall Not Be Named threw an unexpected wrench in the position group as a whole, but regardless, there were times throughout the season where the Raiders simply just didn't get the overall production from the wide receivers that they would have liked, and definitely lacked that dynamic option out wide – particularly with Williams operating at less than 100 percent.

With an uber-talented group of pass catchers already declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, along with a healthy Tyrell Williams, could that need be filled in short order? Absolutely, but the fact remains, how Gruden and Mayock decide to handle the wide receiver position on the active roster will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout the offseason.

Position Group MVP:

Even though he missed a handful of games, I'm giving the nod to Hunter Renfrow.

"Third and Renfrow" got better week after week, and even though he was a rookie, he quickly became one of Carr's favorite targets; to really show his value, just look at how much the team's offense missed him while he was on the shelf rehabbing injury.

2019 was a great start to Renfrow's career, and I, for one, can't wait to see what the sure-handed wideout has in store for 2020.

Check out part two of the best images taken during the Raiders' 2019 Season.

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